Editor’s Note: Matt McLaughlin had started writing these handicaps before the untimely death of his mother. Where he’d fallen short, Kim DeHaven chipped in to finish these handicaps off for Chicagoland. We expect Matt back to do the handicaps for Indianapolis in two weeks.
Thanks for your patience, and keep the McLaughlin family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon won this race last year and has top-five finishes in four of his six starts at Chicagoland. With a 10th-place average finish, Gordon doesn’t beat around the “Busch,” although some days, we are sure he’d like to.
Denny Hamlin – Hamlin finished 14th here last year in both the Busch and Cup races.
Matt Kenseth – Kenseth finished second here in 2005 and is averaging a 12th-place finish in six Chicagoland starts.
Jimmie Johnson – Johnson has finished sixth or better in all five of his Cup starts at this track, with his best result coming back in 2004, when he placed second. Chicagoland was also the site of Johnson’s only Busch Series victory to date – a win that made a lot of pundits finally think Rick Hendrick hadn’t flipped his lid after all when he chose Johnson for a Cup ride.
Jeff Burton – Burton won the pole last year and led 60 laps en route to a second-place finish, the only top five he has recorded here throughout his career.
Tony Stewart – Stewart won here in 2004 and has top-five finishes in four of his six starts at Chicagoland.
Carl Edwards – Whoops… Edwards may have momentum, but this is not the house for him. He’s averaging a 30th-place finish here after his first two Cup starts at the track. He did finish second in last year’s Busch Series race, also.
Kevin Harvick – Harvick is the only repeat winner at Chicagoland, taking the checkers in 2001 and 2002. After avoiding the giant bouncing inflatable fruit debacle and not taking sides in Muppet Madness, he has posted top-10 finishes in four of his six Joliet starts.
Kyle Busch – Busch finished third here last year and was never endangered by any giant rolling inflatable pieces of drywall.
Martin Truex Jr. – Truex finished 16th here last year in his only Joliet start. We think he’ll do much better than that this year.
Clint Bowyer – Bowyer finished ninth here last year in his only Chicagoland Cup start.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Earnhardt won here in 2005 and finished fifth here last year. His 15th-place average finish in six starts at Chicagoland is just average, at best; but the fans love him for it anyway.
Ryan Newman – Newman won here in 2003 but hasn’t finished better than 29th in the three Joliet Cup races run since.
Jamie McMurray – McMurray is averaging a 21st-place finish after four Cup starts at Chicagoland, but now has momentum from his Daytona victory on his side. His best finish came in his first start at the track in 2003, when he placed eighth.
Kurt Busch – After six Joliet Cup starts, Busch has finished eighth three times and sixth once. It is the other two finishes of 35th and 39th that drag his average down to 17th.
Greg Biffle – Biffle has four Cup starts at Chicagoland, scoring a pair of 11th-place finishes in 2005 and 2006. He also recorded a couple of 20th-place results in 2003 and 2004. Unfortunately, they don’t hand out trophies for consistency.
JJ Yeley – Yeley started and finished 10th last year in his only Cup start at Chicagoland. Didn’t we already tell you that they don’t hand out trophies for consistency?
Mark Martin – We find it hard to believe, too, but Martin has never scored a top five at Chicagoland. In six starts, he has recorded three top 10s and an average finishing position of 14th; when the checkered flag flies, he’s never finished worse than 24th.
Casey Mears – Mears’s performance has been all over the board in Joliet. He has one top-10 finish and one DNF here for a 21st place average. Luckily for him, they don’t hand out a trophy for consistency.
Bobby Labonte – In six Chicagoland starts, Labonte has never finished better than 12th and has two DNFs in his last two starts here.
Others to Watch
Kasey Kahne – Despite Kahne’s reputation for being a mile-and-a-half track ace, he has never finished better than 23rd at Chicagoland.
Reed Sorenson – Sorenson has an impressive average finish of seventh at Chicagoland, until you realize that it is based on his one and only start at the track.
Juan Pablo Montoya – Montoya will be making his first Chicagoland start this weekend. Besides, do we really need a statistical reason to watch the Colombian rookie?