The Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway is set to run on Sunday, and although there isn’t a significant change of rain predicted on race day, NASCAR has still upped the start time for the event by 15 minutes (to 2:32 pm ET). Chicagoland is your typical cookie-cutter 1.5-mile track, and because of that, you’re going to see a lot of references to driver performance on similar tracks in the article below. These races often play out in the same way, and there are very few surprises, which can either be a good thing or bad thing for Fantasy NASCAR players. Expect long, green flag runs for most of the day on Sunday.
NASCAR decided to go with a condensed schedule this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, which means all pre-race on-track activity was on Saturday. There were two practice sessions followed by a very late qualifying, and you can see the two practice speed charts here: Practice #1 – Happy Hour. I’d also recommend reading our in-depth notes for those sessions, as the speed charts themselves are a bit skewed due to teams being in qualifying trim. Also, our notes have the overall average speed rankings from those sessions. The notes can be found here: Practice #1 – Happy Hour. Paul Menard is on the pole for this weekend’s race, and the entire top 10 is a bit surprising (probably thanks, in part, to the schedule). The full starting lineup for Sunday’s Overton’s 400 can be found by clicking here.
NOTE: This post was edited after all of the post-qualifying inspection craziness.
Final Top 25 Rankings for Chicagoland
1. Ryan Blaney – Starts 2nd – DraftKings Price: $8,300 – FanDuel Price: $10,500
**Risk Factor: Medium-to-High Risk**
Ryan Blaney is a boom or bust Fantasy NASCAR option on the 1.5-mile race tracks. His average finish on them this season is 19.0–which is tied for just 17th-best in the series–but his average running position on them is 9.8, which is 5th-best in the series. A big part of this discrepancy is because of the Kansas race, where Blaney was a legitimate contender but had contact with Kyle Larson late and ended up finishing 37th. The main point here, though, is that there is definite speed in this #12 Ford, and that is the case at Chicagoland this weekend once again. Blaney was on top of the speed chart in Practice #1 here on Saturday and then ended up 14th-fastest in Happy Hour with the 9th-best ten-lap average. He also had the best overall average speed in that first session. As far as Chicagoland goes, Ryan finished 4th here in 2016 and then came home 11th last year, both races while driving for the Wood Brothers. It should be fun to see what he can accomplish with ‘upgraded’ equipment this weekend. I will note that when Ryan Blaney starts on the front row, good things tend to happen (a.k.a. laps led), and I have a feeling he has a great car heading into Sunday. Can he hold off the “Big 3,” though? This weekend has already been screwy enough, let’s add in a crazy prediction: I think he will.
2. Kevin Harvick – Starts 13th – DraftKings Price: $11,800 – FanDuel Price: $12,300
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
If you don’t think Kevin Harvick is one of the drivers to beat this weekend, then you must be new to NASCAR. This #4 team has had the 1.5-mile tracks on lockdown all year long, with a win at Atlanta and Las Vegas followed by a 2nd-place finish at Texas, another win at Kansas, and then a wreck at Charlotte. When you take that Charlotte race out of the equation, Harvick has an average finish of 1.3 on this track type this season and an average running position of 3.5–both the best in the series. Here at Chicagoland, Harvick is a two-time winner (2001 and 2002) and has finished 5th or better in seven of the last twelve events here. This weekend, the #4 Ford was 11th-fastest in Practice #1 and then ended up 6th-fastest in Happy Hour with the best ten-lap average. Additionally, Harvick ranked inside the top 3 in overall average speed in both practices on Saturday, and was the only driver to look consistently fast all day. This #4 team probably should have won the last two races (Michigan and Sonoma), so maybe here at Chicagoland they’ll finally (I use that term loosely) get win #6 of 2018.
3. Chase Elliott – Starts 3rd – DraftKings Price: $8,500 – FanDuel Price: $10,600
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
I had Chase Elliott ranked higher than most coming into this race weekend (4th) but I’m sticking with it. Since he’s joined NASCAR’s top series, Chase has been one of those drivers that runs really well at certain tracks, and Chicagoland is on that list; over the last two years here, Elliott has led 117 laps at this track (2nd-most behind Jimmie Johnson’s 118) and has had an average driver rating of 125.6 (2nd-best behind Truex’s 128.1) with an average finish of 2.5 (2nd-best behind Truex’s 1.0). As far as this season goes on the 1.5-mile tracks, Elliott hasn’t been great, but hasn’t been bad, either, with an average result of 15.6 (and an adjusted average finish of 11th when you take out his worst race). What I like most about the #9 Chevrolet this weekend, though, is how this team has been performing recently, as Chase hasn’t had a result worse than 12th since Bristol back in April, and he’s posted three top 5s in the last eight races overall (including last week at Sonoma). Elliott was 4th-fastest in Practice #1 here on Saturday and then had the 2nd-best overall average speed in Happy Hour. I’m not guaranteeing it by any means, but I think Chase could legitimately run top 5 in Sunday’s Overton’s 400.