Cup Series preview: Chicagoland

This afternoon, the Camping World 400 from Chicagoland Speedway will take place barring any weather delays as there has been forecasted. This is the 19th Cup Series event that the facility will host. The stages lengths are 80-80-107. The 1.5-mile circuit will feature the divisive aero package that has shown its peak performance at other 1.5-mile tracks such as Kansas and Charlotte. With those races, both tracks were run at night. Kansas had cool temperatures for the entire race to make it easier for drivers to have the grip to run full throttle in the corners. Charlotte had a slicker surface but the high banking and narrowness of the turns allowed for less off-throttle time. The weather will determine if Chicagoland is an action-packed race like the other two or an uneventful race like the ones at Auto Club or Michigan. If the track gets cloud cover and some rain, that will help cool the track down and create more grip. If the track stays sunny, then the surface will be slick to create more off-throttle time, thus, spreading out the field.

Austin Dillon is on the pole for the second time this season which will more than likely not play into his favor as his car usually does not show the speed in race trim like it does in qualifying trim. Both Richard Childress cars are starting in the top three but the team has not shown the in-race competitiveness that they tease in qualifying. Expect the RCR products to run in-between 10th and 20th for a majority of the race. Kevin Harvick is starting second and is in prime position to nab his first win of the 2019 season. While he has the points to cruise into the postseason, he needs the wins to secure enough playoff points to be on par with Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Brad Keselowski. Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson are two drivers on my radar who could get their first wins of the season. Bowman recently had a three-race streak of second-place finishes with his peak performance coming at Kansas. Bowman is starting inside the top ten and will be a threat all race long. Larson starts in the mid-pack but will run the top line like he did here last year and almost beat Kyle Busch in one of the most epic finishes in NASCAR’s history.

Regardless of how the weather plays out, I am going to pick Alex Bowman to get his first win of the season. I think it is his time to break out after the tease earlier in the season. Kurt Busch will be my dark horse because he has not won a race this season so he qualifies as a dark horse. The race is on NBC Sports Network at 3:00 p.m. ET.



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