The 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup has now started, and what better track to start it at than at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. Who out of the 16 Chase grid drivers will win this race and automatically advance into the next round of the Chase? Well we will just have to wait and find out as I finally recap and review this race from last Sunday. Let's have a look at the starting lineup for this race.
1. Kyle Busch: #18 Toyota
2. Brad Keselowski: #2 Ford
3. Denny Hamlin: #11 Toyota
4. Carl Edwards: #19 Toyota
5. Martin Truex Jr: #78 Toyota
6. Matt Kenseth: #20 Toyota
7. Jimmie Johnson: #48 Chevrolet
8. Joey Logano: #22 Ford
9. Tony Stewart: #14 Chevrolet
10. Kurt Busch: #41 Chevrolet
11. Chris Buescher (R): #34 Ford
12. Chase Elliott (R): #24 Chevrolet
13. Austin Dillon: #3 Chevrolet
14. Jamie McMurray: #1 Chevrolet
15. Alex Bowman (R): #88 Chevrolet
16. Ryan Newman: #31 Chevrolet
17. Kasey Kahne: #5 Chevrolet
18. Trevor Bayne: #6 Ford
19. A.J. Allmendinger: #47 Chevrolet
20. Ryan Blaney (R): #21 Ford
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr: #17 Ford
22. Greg Biffle: #16 Ford
23. Danica Patrick: #10 Chevrolet
24. Paul Menard: #27 Chevrolet
25. Aric Almirola: #43 Ford
26. Clint Bowyer: #15 Chevrolet
27. Casey Mears: #13 Chevrolet
28. Michael McDowell: #95 Chevrolet
29. Landon Cassill: #38 Ford
30. David Regan: #23 Toyota
31. Regan Smith: #7 Chevrolet
32. Brian Scott (R): #44 Ford
33. Matt DiBenedetto: #83 Toyota
34. Cole Whitt: #98 Chevrolet
35. Michael Annett: #46 Chevrolet
36. Joey Gase (R): #32 Ford
37. Reed Sorenson: #55 Chevrolet
38. Kevin Harvick: #4 Chevrolet
39. Josh Wise: #40 Chevrolet
40. Kyle Larson: #42 Chevrolet
Who I picked to win this race: Jimmie Johnson
Lap 1: The green flag is out and the race in Chicagoland is on. Pole sitter Kyle Busch leads the opening lap.
Lap 3: Denny Hamlin passes Brad Keselowski for 2nd.
Lap 8: Martin Truex Jr tries to pass Brad Keselowski on the front straightaway for 3rd, but Martin can't complete the pass.
Lap 11: Brad Keselowski passes Denny Hamlin for 2nd on the front straightaway.
Lap 21: Kevin Harvick, who started in 38th, is now in the top 10 as he passes Ryan Newman for 10th on the front straightaway.
Lap 22: Martin Truex Jr is now the new race leader as he passes Kyle Busch on the back straightaway.
Lap 49: The first caution is out as there is a loose tire on pit road. Most of the drivers made pit stops during this caution period.
Lap 56: The green flag is back out with Jimmie Johnson as the race leader. Kyle Busch is in 2nd.
Lap 59: Denny Hamlin is starting to drop back as both Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne pass him for 7th and 8th respectively.
Lap 70: 2nd place Martin Truex Jr has to make an unscheduled pit stop as he had a flat right rear tire. He is now in 21st place 1 lap down. Kyle Busch is now back in 2nd and Brad Keselowski is in 3rd.
Lap 76: Brad Keselowski passes Kyle Busch for 2nd on the back straightaway.
Lap 80: Chase Elliott passes Kyle Busch for 3rd in turn 1.
Lap 102: The first cycle of green flag pit stops start as Kyle Larson makes a pit stop along with Kurt Busch.
Lap 104: Race leader Jimmie Johnson makes a pit stop. Brad Keselowski is the new race leader.
Lap 108: The cycle of green flag pit stops is over and Jimmie Johnson is the race leader.
Lap 119: The 2nd caution is out as Brian Scott has spun his car out in turn 4. Some drivers made pit stops during this caution period. Matt Kenseth has been penalized and will restart from the rear of the field due to speeding on pit road.
Lap 126: The green flag is back out with Jimmie Johnson as the race leader. Chase Elliott is in 2nd.
Lap 133: we have reached the halfway point of this 267 lap race. Here is how the top 5 looks.
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Chase Elliott
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Kyle Busch
5. Joey Logano
Lap 170: The 2nd cycle of green flag pit stops start as Alex Bowman makes a pit stop.
Lap 172: Race leader Jimmie Johnson and 2nd place Chase Elliott make pit stops. Brad Keselowski is now the new race leader.
Lap 174: Race leader Brad Keselowski makes a pit stop. Kyle Busch will be penalized for driving too fast entering pit road.
Lap 177: The cycle of green flag pit stops is over and Jimmie Johnson is the race leader.
Lap 182: Chase Elliott passes Jimmie Johnson for the race lead on the front straightaway.
Lap 193: The 3rd caution is out due to debris on the back straightaway. Most of the drivers make pit stops during this caution period.
Lap 199: The green flag is back out with Chase Elliott as the race leader. Jimmie Johnson is in 2nd.
Lap 220: Ryan Blaney tries to pass Matt Kenseth for 10th on the the front straightaway. But he can't complete the pass.
Lap 236: The cycle of green flag pit stops start as race leader Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson make pit stops. Jimmie will be penalized for going too fast exiting pit road.
Lap 238: Denny Hamlin makes a pit stop. It's expected to be his last pit stop of the race.
Lap 250: Alex Bowman finally makes a pit stop and hands the lead over to Chase Elliott, and now Martin Truex Jr is in 2nd.
Lap 263: The 4th caution comes out with just 5 laps to go due to debris from Michael McDowell's car being on the racetrack. Most of the drivers make pit stops during this caution period. Ryan Blaney stays out and will be the race leader. The race will now go into overtime or a Green-White-Checkered finish.
Lap 269: The green flag is back out with just 2 laps to go. Ryan Blaney is the race leader. But Martin Truex Jr passes Blaney around the outside on the back straightaway for the lead.
Lap 270: The white flag is out for the final lap of the race. Joey Logano passes Ryan Blaney for 2nd, and Martin Truex Jr will hold on and wins at Chicagoland. Joey will finish in 2nd and Chase Elliott will finish in 3rd.
Thoughts on this race: I will say that while this was not the most exciting race I have ever seen, it was not the most boring or least interesting. It was just in the middle type of race that saw a really good finish to this race. And, at least to me, had a surprising winner in Martin Truex Jr. I honestly did not see him winning this race. Mainly because Truex Jr in his career has only won 3 races before this season. He has never been able to win more than 1 race in a single season. But by winning at Darlington a few weeks ago, he finally was able to accomplish being able to win at least 2 races in one season. But now he has done something that I am sure nobody thought he could do, and that is get his 3rd victory of this season and win at Chicagoland. I did not think he could win this race, especially considering the fact that he had to make an unscheduled pit stop early in the race for a flat tire and went 1 lap down. But Truex ad his team did not panic in that situation and Martin was eventually able to get his lap back and climb through the field, take the lead, and then win the race. If Truex Jr and his team can have those types of performances like that for the rest of this season, then Martin and his team could definitely be Championship contenders by the end of this season at Homested. Now there is one driver that you have to feel at least a little sorry for and that's Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie Johnson is who I picked to win this race, and it looked like I had made the right choice or prediction. He led the most laps in this race and it looked like he was finally going to win at Chicago and get his 3rd win of the season. But late in the race he was forced to serve a penalty for going too fast on pit road. With the penalty being late in the race, he was not able to fully recover and did not win this race. He had to settle for a disappointing 12th place finish. In my opinion, if he did not have to serve that penalty, he probably would have won this race. Because besides his team-mate Chase Elliott, Johnson was the car to beat in this race. He was very quick and the class of the 40 car field. To me he was well n his way to victory, but he screwed himself over by getting a speeding penalty. If Johnson wants to win races and contend for a Championship, he can't afford getting penalties like these and has to be more consistent. So with all of that being said, this was an alright race to watch with a really good and exciting finish. And this was a pretty good way to kickoff the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Before I go, here are the full official results of this race.
1. Martin Truex Jr: #78 Toyota
2. Joey Logano: #22 Ford
3. Chase Elliott (R): #24 Chevrolet
4. Ryan Blaney (R): #21 Ford
5. Brad Keselowski: #2 Ford
6. Denny Hamlin: #11 Toyota
7. Kasey Kahne: #5 Chevrolet
8. Kyle Busch: #18 Toyota
9. Matt Kenseth: #20 Toyota
10. Alex Bowman (R): #88 Chevrolet
11. Jamie McMurray: #1 Chevrolet
12. Jimmie Johnson: #48 Chevrolet
13. Kurt Busch: #41 Chevrolet
14. Austin Dillon: #3 Chevrolet
15. Carl Edwards: #19 Toyota
16. Tony Stewart: #14 Chevrolet
17. A.J. Allmendinger: #47 Chevrolet
18. Kyle Larson: #42 Chevrolet
19. Ryan Newman: #31 Chevrolet
20. Kevin Harvick: #4 Chevrolet
21. Paul Menard: #27 Chevrolet
22. Clint Bowyer: #15 Chevrolet
23. Trevor Bayne: #6 Ford
24. Danica Patrick: #10 Chevrolet
25. Ricky Stenhouse Jr: #17 Ford
26. Greg Biffle: #16 Ford
27. Ty Dillon (R): #7 Chevrolet
28. Chris Buescher (R): #34 Ford
29. Landon Cassill: #38 Ford
30. Matt DiBenedetto: #83 Toyota
31. Brian Scott (R): #44 Ford
32. Aric Almirola: #43 Ford
33. Michael Annett: #46 Chevrolet
34. Casey Mears: #13 Chevrolet
35. David Regan: #23 Toyota
36. Cole Whitt: #98 Chevrolet
37. Michael McDowell: #95 Chevrolet
38. Josh Wise: #30 Chevrolet
39. Reed Sorenson: #55 Chevrolet
40. Joey Gase (R): #32 Ford
Next Race: Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire
By: Andrew Harrington