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NASCAR - Sprint Cup - GEICO 400 Preview

From The Sports Network

DATE: Sunday, September 16th
SITE: Chicagoland Speedway (2001) -- Joliet, Illinois
TRACK: 1.5-mile tri-oval - 2,400 feet (Frontstretch); 1,700 feet (Backstretch)
ANNUAL: 12th
CAPACITY: 69,000 (Grandstand Seating)
ANNOUNCERS: Allen Bestwick, Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree
RADIO: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio
START TIME: 2 p.m. (ET)/Green Flag: 2:16 p.m. (ET)
RUNNER-UP: Kevin Harvick
POLE WINNER: Matt Kenseth (Finished 21st)
LAPS: 267
MILES: 400.5
QUALIFYING RECORD: Jimmie Johnson, 2005 (188.147 m.p.h.)
RACE RECORD: David Reutimann, 2010 (145.138 m.p.h.)
TOTAL PURSE: $5,906,054 (2011 figures)
PAYOUTS: 1st Place - $332,308; 2nd Place - $252,861; 3rd Place - $175,950
2011 Finish
1Tony Stewart266Kurt Busch3
2Kevin Harvick307Clint Bowyer21
3Dale Earnhardt Jr198Ryan Newman4
4Carl Edwards59Mark Martin25
5Brad Keselowski610Jimmie Johnson12
2011 GEICO 400 Facts and Figures
AVERAGE SPEED: 143.306 m.p.h.
TIME OF RACE: 2 hours, 47 minutes, 41 seconds
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.941 second
CAUTION FLAGS: 6 for 25 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 22 among 10 drivers
POLE WINNER: Matt Kenseth (183.243 m.p.h.)
Past GEICO 400 Winners (Starting Position) Car -- Speed
2011 -- Tony Stewart (26th) -- Chevrolet -- 143.306 m.p.h.
2010 -- David Reutimann (7th) -- Toyota -- 145.138 m.p.h. (race record)
2009 -- Mark Martin (14th) -- Chevrolet -- 133.810 m.p.h.
2008 -- Kyle Busch (1st) -- Toyota -- 133.996 m.p.h.
2007 -- Tony Stewart (19th) -- Chevrolet -- 134.258 m.p.h.
2006 -- Jeff Gordon (13th) -- Chevrolet -- 132.077 m.p.h.
2005 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr (25th) -- Chevrolet -- 127.638 m.p.h.
2004 -- Tony Stewart (10th) -- Chevrolet -- 129.507 m.p.h.
2003 -- Ryan Newman (14th) -- Dodge -- 134.059 m.p.h.
2002 -- Kevin Harvick (32nd) -- Chevrolet -- 136.832 m.p.h.
2001 -- Kevin Harvick (6th) -- Chevrolet -- 121.200 m.p.h.
NOTE: Formerly called Tropicana 400 (2001-04), USG Sheetrock 400 (2005-07), 400 (2008-10).
Past GEICO 400 Pole Winners (Finish)
2011 -- Matt Kenseth -- 21st
2010 -- Jamie McMurray -- 5th
2009 -- Brian Vickers -- 7th
2008 -- None -- Weather
2007 -- Casey Mears -- 5th
2006 -- Jeff Burton -- 2nd
2005 -- Jimmie Johnson -- 3rd
2004 -- Jeff Gordon -- 4th
2003 -- Tony Stewart -- 2nd
2002 -- Ryan Newman -- 5th
2001 -- Todd Bodine -- 14th
Last Race Results
RACE: Federated Auto Parts 400 (September 10th)
SITE: Richmond International Raceway -- Richmond, Virginia
MILES: 300
LAPS: 400
WINNER: Clint Bowyer
RUNNER-UP: Jeff Gordon
THIRD: Mark Martin
FOURTH: Tony Stewart
FIFTH: Matt Kenseth
POLE WINNER: Dale Earnhardt Jr (Finished 14th)
TIME OF RACE: 2 hours, 59 minutes, 58 seconds
AVERAGE SPEED: 100.019 m.p.h.
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 1.198 seconds
CAUTION FLAGS: 6 for 41 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 17 among 10 drivers
LAP LEADERS: D. Earnhardt Jr. 1-6; J. Gordon 7-8; D. Earnhardt Jr. 9-47; M.
McDowell 48; D. Earnhardt Jr. 49-58; D. Hamlin 59-84; D.
Earnhardt Jr. 85-93; D. Hamlin 94-155; D. Earnhardt Jr. 156-158;
D. Hamlin 159-231; J. Johnson 232-233; D. Hamlin 234-241; M.
Truex Jr. 242-248; D. Hamlin 249-281; K. Kahne 282-284; T.
Stewart 285-299; R. Newman 300-312; C. Bowyer 313-400.
GEICO 400 Entry List
CarDriver, HometownCar/Name
1Jamie McMurray (Joplin, MO)Chevrolet/McDonald's
2Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hills, MI)Dodge/Miller Lite
5Kasey Kahne (Enumclaw, WA)Chevrolet/Farmers Insurance
9Marcos Ambrose (Launceston, Australia)Ford/Stanley
10Danica Patrick (Roscoe, IL)Chevrolet/
11Denny Hamlin (Chesterfield, VA)Toyota/FedEx Ground
13Casey Mears (Bakersfield, CA)Ford/Geico
14 *Tony Stewart (Columbus, IN)Chevrolet/Mobil 1/Office Depot
15Clint Bowyer (Emporia, KS)Toyota/5-Hour Energy
16Greg Biffle (Vancouver, WA)Ford/Scotch Blue
17Matt Kenseth (Cambridge, WI)Ford/Best Buy
18Kyle Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Toyota/Wrigley
19Mike Bliss (Milwaukie, OR)Toyota/Plinker Tactical
20Joey Logano (Middletown, CT)Toyota/Dollar General
21Trevor Bayne (Knoxville, TN)Ford/Good Sam/Camping World
22Sam Hornish Jr. (Defiance, OH)Dodge/Shell/Pennzoil
23Scott Riggs (Bahama, NC)Chevrolet/North Texas Pipe
24Jeff Gordon (Vallejo, CA)Chevrolet/DuPont
26Josh Wise (Riverside, CA)Ford/MDS Transport
27Paul Menard (Eau Claire, WI)Chevrolet/Menards/Libman
29Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield, CA)Chevrolet/Budweiser
30David Stremme (South Bend, IN)Toyota/Inception Motorsports
31Jeff Burton (South Boston, VA)Chevrolet/Caterpillar
32T.J. Bell (Sparks, NV)Ford/TBA
33Stephen Leicht (Asheville, NC)Chevrolet/
34David Ragan (Unadilla, GA)Ford/
36Dave Blaney (Hartford, OH)Chevrolet/Tommy Baldwin Racing
37J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, AZ)Chevrolet/TBA
38David Gilliland (Riverside, CA)Ford/1800loanmart
39Ryan Newman (South Bend, IN)Chevrolet/Haas Automation
42Juan Pablo Montoya (Bogota, Colombia)Chevrolet/Target
43Aric Almirola (Tampa, FL)Ford/Farmland
47Bobby Labonte (Corpus Christi, TX)Toyota/Bubba Burger
48Jimmie Johnson (El Cajon, CA)Chevrolet/Lowe's/Kobalt Tools
49Jason Leffler (Long Beach, CA)Toyota/TBA
51Kurt Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Chevrolet/
55Mark Martin (Batesville, AR)Toyota/Aaron's Dream Machine
56Martin Truex Jr. (Mayetta, NJ)Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts
78Regan Smith (Cato, NY)Chevrolet/Furniture Row
83Landon Cassill (Cedar Rapids, IA)Toyota/Burger King
87Joe Nemechek (Lakeland, FL)Toyota/AM FM Energy Wood&Pellet
88Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Kannapolis, NC)Chevrolet/AMP Energy/Nat. Guard
91Reed Sorenson (Peachtree City, GA)Toyota/Plinker Tactical
93Travis Kvapil (Janesville, WI)Toyota/Burger King
95Scott Speed (Manteca, CA)Ford/JTS
98Michael McDowell (Glendale, AZ)Ford/Phil Parsons Racing
99Carl Edwards (Columbia, MO)Ford/Fastenal
* - defending champion.
Leading Contenders (Finish the last nine years)
Tony Stewart2ndWon5th32ndWon5th4th9thWon
Kevin Harvick17th10th19th4th4th3rd19th34th2nd
Dale Earnhardt Jr38th22ndWon5th19th16th15th23rd3rd
Carl Edwards------39th20th3rd32nd14th2nd4th
Brad Keselowski------------------32nd18th5th
Clint Bowyer---------9th10th22nd9th4th7th
Ryan NewmanWon34th29th36th8th10th6th22nd8th
Mark Martin14th24th10th18th14th17thWon15th9th
Jimmie Johnson3rd2nd3rd6th37th2nd8th25th10th
Kasey Kahne---36th41st23rd32nd15th3rd6th12th
Joey Logano------------------18th19th16th
Martin Truex Jr---------16th39th9th16th11th18th
Marcos Ambrose------------------11th28th19th
Paul Menard------------42nd26th35th10th20th
Matt Kenseth12th12th2nd22nd2nd7th23rd13th21st
Kyle Busch------24th3rd13thWon33rd17th22nd
Jeff Gordon4th4th33rdWon9th11th2nd3rd24th
Greg Biffle20th20th11th11th11th4th31st35th26th
Denny Hamlin---------14th17th40th5th8th31st
Mover of the Week
Tony Stewart - Started in the 28th position and finished 4th
Sports Network Selections
Pick to Win - Jeff Gordon
Darkhorse - Kyle Busch
Last Week's Pick to Win (Denny Hamlin) - Finished 18th
Last Week's Darkhorse (Regan Smith) - Finished 24th
It's time for the Chase to begin, as NASCAR heads to Chicagoland Speedway. After 26 regular season races and 14 different winners, it comes down to the final 10 events of the season, as the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins this week.

Last year, Tony Stewart started the Chase in impressive fashion, as he posted the first of five Chase wins en route to the Sprint Cup Championship.

Stewart, one of the 12 drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, conserved enough fuel and held off Kevin Harvick during the closing laps to win the rain-delayed GEICO 400 last year. He finished 0.9 seconds ahead of Harvick.

The three-time series champion had struggled during the latter part of the regular season, squeaking his way into the 10-race playoffs with the ninth seed. His most recent win in NASCAR's premier circuit had come in October of 2010 in Fontana, CA -- a Chase race at the time.

This time around, Stewart is tied for the second spot, just three points behind Denny Hamlin. Hamlin has had an impressive season thus far, posting four wins and 13 top-10 finishes in 26 starts. In the eight previous seasons, the top seed has captured the Chase just twice (Tony Stewart in 2005 and Jimmie Johnson in 2007). The remaining breadown has the number two and three seeds winning twice each, the number seven seed winning once (2004) and the ninth seed once.

After failing to crack the top-10 in four previous trips at Chicagoland, David Reutimann won for the second time in his career, as he defeated Carl Edwards by 0.727 seconds in 2010.

Reutimann drove past Jeff Gordon for the lead with 54 laps remaining, and then after reclaiming the top spot following a late-race round of green-flag pit stops, held off Edwards in the closing laps for his first win in a Sprint Cup race that went the scheduled distance. His maiden victory in NASCAR's top circuit came at Charlotte, where the May 2009 event was cut 173 laps short of its 400-lap distance due to rain. Reutimann led 52 of the final 67 laps.

Mark Martin gave his boss, Rick Hendrick, a huge birthday present in 2009, after he held off teammate Jeff Gordon in a double-file restart with two laps to go to win the then 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Martin set a track record for leading the most laps at Chicagoland with 195, but gave up the lead to his other teammate, Jimmie Johnson, after a restart with less than 40 laps remaining. Denny Hamlin pushed Johnson out of position on the following restart. Hamlin and pole sitter Brian Vickers then got together and slowed each other down, allowing 50-year-old Martin to pass underneath the two to reclaim the lead with 16 laps to go.

An incident involving Kyle Busch in the closing laps set up the final restart. Martin pulled away from Gordon and went on to capture his fourth of five wins that year and the 39th of his career.

As he did on the Nationwide circuit in 2008 at Chicagoland, Kyle Busch dominated the Sprint Cup race, as he led 165 of the 267 laps en route to the 11th of his 24 career titles. Busch started on the pole and clipped Jimmie Johnson by 0.159 of a second.

Starting from the 19th position in 2007, Tony Stewart slowly moved into contention and then grabbed the lead for the first time on lap 110. After trading the top spot with several drivers, Stewart regained the advantage for the sixth and final time on lap 232 and held on the rest of the way to edge Matt Kenseth for his 30th career Sprint Cup title. Stewart, who now totals 47 career wins, led for a race-high 108 laps. Pole sitter Casey Mears led the first five laps, and finished fifth. Stewart's margin of victory was 1.727 seconds.

Chevrolet, Stewart and Kevin Harvick have dominated at Chicagoland. Chevy has won this race eight of the 11 years, while Stewart (3 wins) and Harvick (2) are the only multiple champions of this race.

In 2006, Jeff Gordon knocked Matt Kenseth out of the way late in the race and captured the then USG Sheetrock 400. The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet crossed the finish line 0.461 of a second ahead of Jeff Burton. The victory was Gordon's second of the 2006 season and 75th of his Sprint Cup career. Gordon, who now stands third on the all-time list with 86 victories, reclaimed the lead with only seven laps remaining to clip pole sitter Burton. Kenseth dominated the race leading four times for a total of 112 laps, however he faded down the stretch and placed 22nd.

Dale Earnhardt Jr defeated Kenseth in 2005 by less than a second for his 16th career Sprint Cup title and the first of that season. Kenseth dominated the race, leading a whopping 176 laps, but it was Earnhardt Jr who took the lead on lap 257 and held on the rest of the way for the win. Jimmie Johnson, who started on the pole, finished third. Earnhardt Jr started from the 25th position.

The furthest a driver has come from to capture the race was 32nd in 2002 by Kevin Harvick. This race has been won from the top five only once (2008) and just four times from the top-10

Although Jimmie Johnson has seven top-10 finishes in ten trips around Chicagoland, he is winless at the track (0-for-10). Chicagoland is one of just five Sprint Cup tracks that Johnson is winless at. Watkins Glen, Michigan, Kentucky and Homestead are the others.

The construction of Chicagoland Speedway began in August of 1999, with the first race, a Nationwide event being staged July 14, 2001. The following day, the Sprint Cup Series debuted at the track. 11 drivers have competed in all 10 races at Chicagoland. Tony Stewart (8.7), Jeff Gordon (10.0) and Jimmie Johnson (10.0) are active drivers who average a top-10 finish at Chicago. Six of the last seven races have ended with a margin of victory under one second. The closest margin of victory at Chicago was 0.159 seconds in 2008.

The Chase for the Sprint Cup championship continues with the September 23 Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Tony Stewart is the defending race winner.

09/11 17:34:45 ET

As of September 11, 2012, at 05:35 PM ET