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Chicagoland Viewer's Guide
Who to WatchAt some tracks, you have a pretty good idea of who is going to be good. Typically, the cream rise to the top, but the Nextel Cup Series has only been racing on this track since 2001. Usually, I like to factor in a combination of recent success with past history at a track, but it's a challenge because there have only been six races.
What to Watch
Pit PerspectiveCovering Stewart for DirecTV's HotPass last week at Daytona, he was so frustrated when Darrell Waltrip and I started talking to him after his wreck with Hamlin. Teams have to put Daytona in the rear view mirror. Both of those guys had great cars so it was very disappointing. Stewart was really sick about it because he knew it was a good car, and drivers don't have an opportunity to win every single week. But they have to shake it off. Should they have been racing that hard? I'm not pointing fingers. But they have to put it behind them and look ahead. If they dwell on it, it'll breed nothing but hardship.
|Speed Mail Steve|
Some drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch are leaving their teams, and it's a tenuous situation. Busch felt like Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon didn't help him at Daytona. If things go bad on the track, it strains those relationships even further. As professional as these drivers are, if things start going bad, they go bad in a hurry. It's worth keeping an eye on. Busch is already feeling the pressure, and Jeff Gordon said it's up to Kyle how the rest of the season goes. Daytona is an emotional race, but if you know your teammate is in it for the long haul, you can weather the hard times.
Finish LineAll 1 1/2-mile tracks aren't the same. Chicagoland Speedway is a difficult racetrack with only one repeat winner, Kevin Harvick. Ryan Newman, who won this race in 2003, said the track is like a big circle, and pole-sitter Casey Mears made it all the way around without lifting. It also doesn't have the banking that other 1 1/2-mile tracks like Lowe's Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway have. On one hand, teams have to be patient, but on the other hand, it's only a 267-lap/400-mile race.
NASCAR on FOX and SPEED host and reporter Steve Byrnes has covered racing for more than 20 years.