Chicagoland Speedway is the site of the Tales of the Turtles 400, the first race of the inaugural Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. This 1.5 mile tri-oval track has a similar layout to Charlotte Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. Drivers who excelled at those tracks and other 1.5 mile tracks this season are the best options for lineups this week.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,700 on DraftKings) has led 1,646 Laps this season, making him one of only two drivers to have led more than 1,000 Laps. In 11 starts at Chicago, Truex has one win and three Top 10 finishes. He has the fourth-most Fastest Laps at 160, the seventh-most Laps in the Top 15 at 1,962, and the ninth-best Driver Rating of 91.3. Truex starts third, was fourth in first practice, and was first in final practice. His series leading 17 Top 10 finishes only continue to prove that Truex is the driver to beat this season. Anticipate another strong run from Truex, especially since 1.5 mile tracks like Chicagoland are where he performs best.
Kyle Busch ($10,600) is on a hot streak, collecting his sixth consecutive and 16th overall Top 10 finish of 2017 at Richmond. In 12 starts at Chicagoland, Kyle Busch has one win, seven Top 10 finishes, and 429 Laps Led, which is third of active drivers. He has the third best Average Running Position of 8.9, the second-most Laps in the Top 15 at 2,578, and the third-best DR at 106.0. Kyle Busch was the fastest of first practice, starts first, and had the sixth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in second practice. He has looked very fast in practices and has good history at Chicago. Watch for Kyle Busch to compete for the win.
Kyle Larson ($10,400) showed why he is considered a favorite for the title with his win at Richmond last week. In three starts at Chicagoland, Larson has two Top 10 finishes and finished no worse than 18th. Larson has the third-best Average Finishing Position of 9.3, the 10th most Fastest Laps at 53, and the seventh-best DR of 94.9. He starts sixth and was sixth in first practice. He will finish around his starting position based on his speed in first practice.
Kevin Harvick ($10,100) is one of only two active drivers to have won at Chicagoland twice. He has not won at the site since 2002, but has nine Top 10 finishes in 16 starts. Since 2005, Harvick has led the fourth-most Laps at 185, the sixth-most Quality Passes (Passes of cars in the Top 15 under green flag conditions) at 360, the eighth-best ARP of 12.8, and the sixth-best DR of 96.9. Harvick starts fourth, was fifth in first practice, and had the eighth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in second practice. Watch for Harvick to finish behind his starting position as indicated by his practice speeds.
Chase Elliott ($9,900) will make his second start at Chicagoland. In his only start, Elliott started 14th and finished third while leading 75 laps. In the last six races this season, Elliott has three Top 10 finishes while finishing no worse than 18th. Elliott starts eighth, was seventh in first practice, and third in second practice. Elliott was fast throughout practices. He will compete for a Top 5 finish.
Denny Hamlin ($9,700) scored his fifth Top 5 finish in the last 6 races in 2017 in last week’s race. In 11 starts at Chicagoland, Hamlin has one win and five Top 10 finishes, which include three Top 10 finishes in his last three starts at the site. He has the eighth-most Laps in the Top 15 at 1,916, the ninth-most QPs at 340, and ranks 13th in DR at 87.6. Hamlin starts second and was third in first practice. Hamlin’s momentum in recent weeks makes him worth considering alone, but he looked good in first practice as well.
Nobody has been more consistent at Chicagoland in recent seasons than Brad Keselowski ($9,400). In eight starts at the site, Keselowski has six Top 10 finishes and two victories, both of which he earned in his last six starts at Chicagoland. He ranks fifth in ARP at 10.6, Fastest Laps at 144, and DR at 99.7. Keselowski was fourth in second practice and starts fifth. His history at Chicagoland and speed in second practice make him a very good choice.
MID-RANGE PRICED PICKS
Ryan Blaney ($8,700) has only two Top 10 finishes in the last five races, but expect him to recover in a big way this week. In his only start at Chicagoland, Blaney started 22nd and finished fourth. He will start 12th, was ninth in first practice, and second in second practice. Blaney has been fast throughout practices and will compete for a Top 5 finish.
Erik Jones ($8,400) will start 24th in this week’s race, making him a great choice for lineups based on the high amount of Place Differential points he can obtain. He currently has six consecutive Top 10 finishes and will be making his Cup Series debut at Chicagoland. Jones was 13th in first practice and 12th in second practice. Expect Jones to finish around the Top 10, much better than his starting position.
Kasey Kahne ($7,700) starts the furthest back of all drivers in the playoffs at 25th. In 13 starts at Chicagoland, Kahne has four Top 10 finishes, which includes a seventh-place finish in last year’s race. Kahne was seventh in second practice and has a high chance of gaining points from PD. Kahne will finish in the Top 15 based on his second practice speed and is a decent play.
Ryan Newman ($7,500) is a former Chicagoland winner who has quietly been consistent in the last few weeks with four consecutive finishes of seventh or better. In 15 starts at Chicago, Newman has one win and nine Top 10 finishes. Newman starts 16th, was 12th in first practice, and fifth in final practice. He will sneak into the Top 10 once again based on his practice speeds.
A.J. Allmendinger ($6,500) starts 29th, but will be an adequate bargain for owners looking to pick up a few points from PD. In eight starts at Chicagoland, Allmendinger has four Top 20 finishes, which includes a 17th place finish in last year’s race. Allmendinger was 27th in first practice and 21st in second practice. Based on practice speeds, Allmendinger will finish ahead of his starting position around the Top 25.
Aric Almirola ($6,000) has three Top 20 finishes in five starts at Chicagoland. In the last four races in 2017, Almirola has three Top 20 finishes. In second practice, Almirola was sixth and had the 10th best 10 Consecutive Lap Average. Almirola is a solid bargain who will finish around the Top 15 as indicated by his second practice speed.
Michael McDowell‘s ($5,800) best finish at Chicagoland is 32nd, but expect a much better result for 2017. He is in one of the best stretches of his career in the Cup Series, finishing in the Top 20 in all but one of the last seven races. He was 24th in first practice and 25th in second practice. Since McDowell starts 30th, do not be surprised if he finishes in the Top 25, ahead of his starting position. This makes him one of the better bargain values.