Friday, July 9, 2010

Sprint Cup 2010: Race 19 -- Time to get down to Business

This weekend’s 400 in Jolliet, Illinois, it's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses, nevertheless, it’s still called Chicagoland Speedway, and the Sprint Cup field hopes their cars won’t be blues mobiles in competition. This is one of those go to work and get it done kind of races. Just more than one third of the Sprint Cup season is on 1 ½ mile tracks. The good teams don’t have bad tracks on the 1 ½ format. After last week’s wrecking scene in Daytona eliminating half the field, it’s time for teams that want to chase in the fall to show up, do their jobs, and get in the top ten. Poor performance at this track could be especially costly for some teams as the summer countdown is on with eight races to go before the field is locked in for the Championship chase. With a 1 ½ track and then a week off, the trip to Chicago affords teams a chance to regroup pull things together before another one of the year’s most publicized races follows in two weeks, the Brickyard 400.

Here’s the top 15 qualifiers.

1. Jamie McMurray, Chevy, #1
2. Jimmie Johnson, Chevy, #48
3. Tony Stewart, Chevy, #14
4. Greg Biffle, Ford, #16
5. Sam Hornish, Jr., Dodge, #77
6. Jeff Gordon, Chevy, #24
7. David Reutimann, Toyota, #00
8. Paul Menard, Ford, #98
9. Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, #56
10. Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevy, #42
11. Carl Edwards, Ford, #99
12. Kasey Kahne, Ford, #9
13. A.J. Allmendinger, Ford, #43
14. Jeff Burton, Chevy, #31
15. Clint Bowyer, Chevy, #33

Last year’s winner, Mark Martin starts in 21st in the #6 Chevy. Points leader, Kevin Harvick, starts 27th, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. trying to build on his momentum from Daytona which pulled him into the top 12 starts 25th.

This lineup represents one of the best qualifying fields for Ford yet this year evidence that the FR9 engine must be starting to pay results. Two Roush and two Petty cars are in the top 12.

Perhaps the driver to keep an eye on is Tony Stewart from nearby Indiana. His third place qualifying and record of having two wins at the track could help him build some constructive momentum for his season.

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