1. Kevin Harvick Chicagoland Fantasy NASCAR Analysis – Kevin Harvick will be a good fantasy NASCAR pick for the Chicagoland MyAFibStory.com 400. If this team can avoid trouble and have an incident free race I see no reason why he can’t win the first race of the Chase. Nearly all season long he’s been one of the best drivers in the series on this track type. When you combine that with a venue that’s been especially good for him throughout his career the competition definitely better watch out. Atlanta is the last 1.5 mile track visited and he dominated that race. Another factor you have to like about him is that he recently tested here with his Stewart-Haas teammates. If you’re a fan of momentum you also have to like him this weekend because over the last 2 months he’s been one of the most consistent drivers in the series. In Happy Hour he ended the session with a 20 lap run and his lap times looked good. His ten lap average in Happy Hour ranked as the 7th best.
Starting Position – 12th
Track History – Chicagoland has been a special track for Kevin Harvick. In the first two races held at this venue he had back to back wins. He almost made it three straight but fuel mileage bit him after leading 46 laps in 2003. Even when he doesn’t win here he’s been very proficient finishing up front. In 54% percent of his Chicagoland races he’s finished in the top five. That ranks as his highest top five finish percentage among all 23 tracks. His overall average finish is 9.9. Last season Kevin Harvick had a strong performance. He finished 3rd and earned the 7th best driver rating. In 2012 he finished 12th. In 2011 he finished runner-up.
Similar Track Performances – This season on 1.5 mile tracks Kevin Harvick has arguably been the best driver in the series. In four of the six races on tracks of this length he was a serious contender to win. Unfortunately he’s had many races that weren’t incident free. Atlanta is the last 1.5 mile track visited and at that venue he dominated the race and led 195 laps.
Odds To Win – 5/1
Chassis Selection – On Sunday Kevin Harvick will be driving a new chassis he recently tested here with.
Momentum –This team has been very strong over the last few months. In six of the last seven races he’s finished in the top 11. The one race he didn’t finish in the top ten was Atlanta and he dominated that event.
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2. Jimmie Johnson Chicagoland Fantasy NASCAR Analysis – Jimmie Johnson is a driver who you can be confident picking in the Chicagoland MyAFibStory.com 400. Its Chase time and that means the 48 team is pulling out all the stops and will run a near perfect race. Although he’s never won here he’s been pretty close to money in the bank. Also from practice it appears that he likes his car. Towards the end of practice #2 he told Chad Knaus he had a nice car. In Happy Hour his car was very quick and his ten lap average ranked as the 2nd best. This season on 1.5 mile tracks minus Texas Jimmie Johnson has ranked as one of the best drivers in the series.
Starting Position – 7th
Track History – Jimmie Johnson has been very good at Chicagoland but he’s never won in a Sprint Cup car. Minus the two races he’s finished outside the top ten he would have a 4.5 average finish. In 2013 Johnson had a very good car that could’ve potentially been the strongest in the field. Unfortunately his race wasn’t incident free because he had multiple pit road problems. In the race he started in 9th and raced his way up to the lead on lap 34. Then later in the race while he was leading during green flag stops around lap 75 he had about a 20 second pit stop because of confusion with a NASCAR official whether he had all of his lug nuts on or not. That long pit stopped dropped him down to about 6th. He was able to rebound from that and over the next 70 laps he typically ran between 6th and 2nd. Then later in the race on lap 149 during pit stops his jack broke and that cost him about 20 positions. From that point on he had to do some serious rallying up through the field. When the checkered flag waved he finished 5th, had a 7th place average running position, earned the 3rd best driver rating and led 40 laps. In 2012 Johnson was very impressive. In that race he started on the pole, earned the best driver rating, finished 2nd, had a 2nd place average running position and led 172 laps. He nearly had the race won but during the last round of pit stops Keselowski passed him and never looked back. If Johnson would’ve maintained the lead through that pit cycle I think he would’ve won. In 2011 his 10th place finish deserves an asterisk mark. In that race he was a driver who ran out of gas on the final lap. Before he ran out of gas he was running in 3rd. One notable strength of Johnson’s at Chicagoland is leading laps. Only once in his career has he failed to not lead a lap. In six of the last seven races he led at least 39 laps per race.
Similar Track Performances – Auto Club Speedway is a larger track in the Chicagoland mold and at that venue earlier this season Jimmie Johnson dominated the race and looked like a lock to win if his tire didn’t come apart in the closing laps. Performance wise across the board on high-speed intermediate tracks Johnson has been very strong this season. At 1.5 mile tracks minus Texas where he had problems he has a 6.0 average finish, 7.0 average running position, led 222 laps and has scored the most points over those 5 select races.
Odds To Win – 6/1
Chassis Selection – On Sunday Jimmie Johnson will be driving the chassis he drove to a 9th place finish at Michigan in August.
Momentum – Johnson’s bad luck is definitely over. Now he has four straight top ten results. Over this four race stretch he’s scored the 2nd most points, has a 6.3 average finish and is the only driver who’s finished in the top ten every race.
Recommended Reading – Chicagoland Post Practice Predictions (another fantasy take), Chicagoland Starting Lineup, 10 Lap Average Speed Cheat Sheet, Happy Hour Notes, Happy Hour Speeds, Practice #2 Notes, Practice #2 Speeds, PROS Rankings
3. Brad Keselowski Chicagoland Fantasy NASCAR Analysis – Brad Keselowski is starting back in 25th on Sunday. Should you be concerned? Probably, but this is one of the smartest teams in NASCAR. On Friday they were mostly focused on race trim. For whatever reason I think the weather caught them off guard. The main aspect I like about him is how strong he’s been on high-speed intermediate tracks. He’s one of a handful of drivers who have been super elite at these venues this season. Recently at Chicagoland Keselowski has been successful. He won in 2012 and currently has three consecutive top ten finishes. In Happy Hour Keselowski had good long run speed. His ten lap average ranked as the best.
Starting Position – 25th
Track History – Chicagoland has been a good track for Brad Keselowski. Over the last three races he has the 2nd best driver rating, a 4.3 average finish, and a 7.7 average running position. Last season he had a good performance earning the 5th best driver rating and finishing 7th. In 2012 Keselowski had a great car and drove to victory lane. For much of the race he stalked Jimmie Johnson but at the end he pulled ahead following the final round of pit stops and never looked back. In that race he started 13th, led 76 laps, had a third place average running position and earned the second best driver rating. In 2011 at Chicagoland he finished 5th.
Similar Track Performances – In the six combined races on 1.5 mile tracks he’s the only driver with multiple victories, has the best driver rating, second best average running position (6.0), and has led the second most laps (396). Performance wise at these venues he’s been one of the super elite performers this season.
Odds To Win – 5/1
Chassis Selection – On Sunday Brad Keselowski will be driving a new chassis.
Momentum – This team is entering the Chase with momentum fresh off his dominating win at Richmond. In his other recent races he’s also performed well.