Rev your engines and let the playoffs begin.
Playoff format – top 16 will be eligible to win the Monster Energy Cup “Chase for the Championship”. All of the points are made even amongst drivers 11-16. The winner (Martin Truex Jr) gets 15 additional points, 2nd place gets an additional 10, 3rd gets 9, 4th gets 8 etc.. going down to 1 point for the 10thplace driver (Chase Elliott). After three races the field drops down to 12, after the next 3 it goes down to 8, after the next three it goes down to 4 with the final race being the Ford EcoBoost 400.
What: Tales of the Turtles 400
When: September 17th
Where: Chicagoland Speedway
2016 Winner: Martin Truex Jr
Track: Chicagoland Speedway. Opened in 2001, this 1.5M asphalt track has 4 turns with the ends at a 18degree angle, the front being 11 degrees and the back stretch angled at 5 degrees. Tony Stewart holds the most wins (3) here while Jimmie Johnson holds the most poles (2), the record lap is held by Martin Truex Jr and was set 2 years ago. The 267 laps here to inaugurate the playoffs will cease after this year as it moves to Las Vegas next year.
Denny Hamlin. I was very close to picking the reigning champion here (Martin Truex Jr.) but his last few races havent inspired me. Meanwhile Denny is in full form much like last year at this time coming in with top 10 finishes in 5 of his last 6 races and a 6th place finish at Chicagoland last year. I think Denny will be in the top 5 finisher here.
Chase Elliott – while inusually pick the two drivers in tandem, im picking Chase but not Kyle here. Chase finished 3rd here last year and he had a similar 10-20th place finish in the two races entering the playoffs. He has shown ability to turn it on as soon as the playoffs begin and I’m anticipating more of the same here (with my total 4 starts that I have left for him).
Ryan Blaney – Another rookie from last season who finished in the top ten here (4th) after some pedestrian races going into the playoffs. Last year he had a finish in the teens and a 30’s finish going into his 4th place finish and this season he finished 31st and 18th in the two races going into Chicagoland.
Michael McDowell – Sure he finished 37th here last year but over his last 3 races he’s finished 20th, 19th and 16th. I’m trusting in McDowell for a top 20 finish.
Erik Jones. Despite both Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez falling outside the top 16 I think Erik could post a top 10 finish at Chicagoland as he’s done over his last 4 races.
Year to date stats:
A Drivers: Avg Finish 13th (36th percentile)
B Drivers: Avg Finish 15th (41st percentile)
C Drivers: Avg Finish 17th (48th percentile)
Dark Horse Drivers: Avg Finish 19th (53rd percentile)