The Nationwide Series heads into the Windy City this weekend. Many drivers would like to continue a trend at Chicagoland Speedway notching their first career victories.
Three-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson scored his first and only Nationwide win at Chicagoland in 2001. Casey Mears also won his first career Nationwide race here at Chicagoland. Nationwide drivers Johnny Sauter and Justin Labonte both won their first career Nationwide wins at the Illinois track.
Rookie Justin Allgaier will be making his first career start at Chicagoland. Allgaier, from Riverton, Ill., leads the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings and currently sits sixth in the series standings.
Jeff Burton has sucess at this track. He has an average finish of 4.7 and average driver rating of 117.6 at the track. Burton leads the series in many of the statistics at the track.
Burton—who has run three of the four races at Chicago tracks—is second fastest late in a run and quickest on the restarts. This will be key at Chicagoland, where long green flag runs do occur.
Expect Burton, who will be driving the No. 29 Holiday Inn Express this weekend, to be up front. One statistic that Burton does not lead is wins. He hopes to change that this weekend.
You can’t talk about Nationwide without talking about Kyle Busch. Busch, who has a series high five victories in 2009, comes in as the race champion.
Busch is a favorite coming into the race. Busch has led nearly 20 percent of the laps at the Chicago track this year. He is the second fastest on restarts and should be the safe pick this weekend; Busch is hoping to become the first driver to notch back-to-back victories at the Chicago track.
One of the most consistent Nationwide drivers coming into this week is JR Motorsports' Brad Keselowski.
Keselowski has finished in the top six since his win at Dover in June. Leading the non-cup drivers in third in the standings, Keselowski looks to continue his streak and his strong performances this weekend.
Keselowski finished third in last year’s race and would like to score victory number two of 2009 and his first victory in Chicago. With an average finish of 8.5 in two races at the track, look for Keselowski to be up front.
If you are looking for another series regular looking to notch another win this season, Mike Bliss could be your guy. In the last four races at Chicagoland, Bliss has an average finish of 11 and a driver rating of 88.3.
Bliss won at Charlotte in May and is looking to collect his second win this weekend. Bliss has found success this season on the mile and a half tracks and looks to continue that this weekend.
Kevin Harvick should be glad to see Chicagoland as he is the only driver to win more than once at the Chicago track, 2005 and 2007. Harvick average finish is eighth, but he knows his way around this track.
Harvick has ran over 80 percent of the laps in the top 15. Out of 800 laps run in the last four races, he has ran in the top 15 for 644 of them.
Chicago can have long green runs, so keeping in touch with the leaders is key. Staying on the lead lap is also key if you want a shot at winning this race.
With those long green flag runs comes green flag pits stops, and not making any mistakes entering or exiting pit road, will be crucial.
For every driver who will take the green flag on Friday night, they just want to be first at the checkered.