Chicagoland Speedway Advance Notes
Race: Geico 400 on Sunday, Sept. 18
Track: Chicagoland Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Location: Joliet, Ill.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
Jamie McMurray. and No. 1 McDonald’s Team
Chicagoland History: This weekend’s race at Chicagoland Speedway will be McMurray’s ninth career start at the track in Joliet. In his previous eight races, he has racked up one top-five, two top-10’s, completed 2,083 of the 2,139 laps run (97.4%) and led 73 of them (3.4%). McMurray has been running at the finish of every race he has started in the “Prairie State”. Last season, he qualified on the pole at Chicagoland, his first at the track.
Keep On Runnin’: Including Chicagoland Speedway, there are seven tracks on the current Sprint Cup Series schedule at which McMurray does not have any career DNFs. The only other remaining track that falls in this category is Dover International Speedway. Outside of those two “Chase” races, McMurray has also finished every race at Auto Club Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Ganassi Power: McMurray has made four starts in Joliet while driving for team owner Chip Ganassi. In those races, he has picked up his only career top-five, both of his career top-10s and led all 73 of his career laps led. He has also never finished off of the lead lap in a Ganassi car and got both his best career start (pole) and finish (fifth) in 2010, his first year back with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
Going “Green”: In the last six races at Chicagoland Speedway, McMurray ranks fourth among all Sprint Cup Series drivers in the statistical category of “Green Flag Passes” with 346. He is only 48 behind Greg Biffle, who currently has the most with 394 passes since 2005.
“Chase Me”: While McMurray has never been a part of the “Chase for the Sprint Cup” field; he is one of only two drivers to have won “Chase” races in multiple seasons while not racing for the series championship. He has two victories during NASCAR’s postseason, one in 2009 (Talladega) and the other in 2010 (Charlotte). The only other driver to win “Chase” races after not qualifying for it is Greg Biffle with three wins in three years (Homestead-2004, 2006 and Kansas-2007)
Richmond Recap: McMurray and the No. 1 team took advantage of a strong qualifying effort by pacing the field for several laps in the early going of the caution filled race. By the end of the night, the pace was slowed a record-tying 15 times. The No.1 team made adjustments on the handling of the Bass Pro Shops car as track conditions changed throughout the race. McMurray was caught two laps down when the caution flag came out on lap 247, just after green flag pit stops. However, the team would battle back onto the lead lap and finish in 14th position.
In The Points: With McMurray’s 14th-place effort at Richmond, he remains 25th in the NSCS point standings with 610 points. He is now 121 points behind 13th-place, the highest points position following the “Chase”-qualified drivers.
Visit the Local McDonald’s: While attending the race weekend at Chicagoland Speedway stop at one of the two local McDonald’s to curve your breakfast, lunch or dinner tastes. The two locations are within five miles of the speedway and can be found at 508 East Cass Streeat, Joliet, IL 60432 and 1515 West Jefferson Street, Joliet, IL 60435.
Juan Pablo Montoya and No. 42 Target Team
Chicagoland History: Montoya will be making his fifth start at Chicagoland Speedway this weekend. In four previous starts, Montoya has tallied one top-10, completed every lap of competition (1,068 of 1,068) and been running at the finish of every race. His average finish in Joliet is 14.75 and he got his best finish in the 2009 event at the track when he came home 10th. His best start in Illinois came last season when he took the green flag from the 10th position.
Shortening the List: Last season at Chicagoland, Montoya led his first laps at the track, in only his fourth career start there. He has now led laps at 20 of the 23 tracks that are currently on the Sprint Cup Series Schedule. The only tracks that Montoya has yet to lead a lap at are Michigan International Speedway (10 starts), Darlington Raceway (five) and Kentucky Speedway (one).
Stats This Season: At this point of the 2011 season, Montoya has the highest number of laps run this season with 7,441 (out of a possible 7,476). He has run 18 more laps this season than second-place Ryan Newman with 7,423. Following Richmond last weekend, Montoya has also made 1,139 quality passes (Green flag passes of cars inside the top-15), run 3,321 laps inside the top-15 and has an average running position of 16.2 (third best among non-chasers).
Last Weekend: As the green flag flew, Montoya started in the 10th position. After moving through the field, he found himself in the top-five by lap 50 and advanced up to second before the halfway point of the race. Just before lap 200, the Target Chevrolet was caught in an on-track incident and received minor right front fender damage. Repairs were made on pit road and Montoya drove the No. 42 from the 28th position back up into the top-15 within 30 laps. Concerns over the car’s brakes soon presented themselves during the closing laps, but Montoya would conserve his equipment, hold his position and cross the finish line in 15th.
In the Points: With their 15th-place finish, Montoya and the No. 42 team moved up four positions in points to 18th with 679 points. They are now only 52 points behind 13th, the highest position in points following the drivers who have qualified for the “Chase for the Sprint Cup”.
Target Fun Fact: Did you know that Target, primary sponsor of the No. 42 Chevrolet, employs 355,000 people across 49 states at their 1,750 locations? In order to accommodate all of the company’s employees, the Chicagoland Speedway would have to add almost four times their current number of seats (75,000).
No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet (NSCS): Chassis #1112. Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion has elected to bring chassis #1112 to Chicagoland Speedway this weekend. This is the second race of 2011 for this chassis after it ran at Indianapolis in July, coming home with a fourth-place finish.
No. 42 Target Chevrolet (NSCS): Chassis #1105. Crew Chief Jim Pohlman and the No. 42 team are bringing chassis #1105 to Chicagoland this weekend, marking the seventh race of the season for this chassis. Montoya previously ran this car at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Texas Motor Speedway, and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.