By Sarah Tonsmeire
The first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, held last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, produced some great on track action. Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick displayed a fierce battle for the lead towards the end of the race, only to be shown up by Brad Keselowski. Keselowski went three wide and drove up the middle between Harvick and Larson to take the lead and eventually capture the victory. This was Keselowski’s fifth win this season, and it automatically advanced him to the next elimination round in the Chase. After Sunday’s race, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Aric Almirola, and AJ Allmendinger are the four drivers in jeopardy of being eliminated after two more races. Although Almirola has been named an underdog in the competition, he made an impressive run at Chicagoland, only to be taken out of the race by a blown engine.
Silly Season is almost in full effect, with teams and sponsors announcing plans for the 2015 season. This week, it was announced that Marcos Ambrose will not return to Petty Motorsports next year, but will return home to Australia and race Super V-8 cars for Penske. With that change came the move of Ambrose’s sponsors, Stanley and Dewalt moving to Joe Gibbs Racing next season.
In other NASCAR news this week, the District Attorney in Ontario County confirmed this week that all evidence in the Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward Jr. case will be presented to a grand jury for review. It is the jury’s duty to decide whether or not to bring charges against Tony Stewart. There is no set date for that decision to be completed.
NASCAR heads north to the land of lobster for the second race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. New Hampshire Motor Speedway, located in Loudon, New Hampshire, sits just over a mile long with twelve degree banking in the turns. Drivers will complete 300 laps to make up the Sylvania 300 on Sunday. Often referred to as Loudon, the speedway boasts the title of being the largest sporting facility in New England. Competitors also race for one of NASCAR’S most unique trophies, a large live lobster.
This week’s Fast Five is based on drivers’ past performances at Loudon, including the earlier race in July, along with drivers who show the most potential and momentum at this time. The Fast Five for Loudon includes: Brad Keselowski, who is an obvious pick considering the hot streak he is on and he is an excellent contender at one mile tracks; Denny Hamlin, who holds the best average finishing position at Loudon and posted a top ten finish at the race in July; Jeff Gordon, who is currently the only driver set to run in every single Loudon race and has the most runner-up finishes there; Kyle Busch, who had a strong run last week at Chicagoland and finished second in the July Loudon race; and Kyle Larson, who has consistently increased his ability to have strong run, was in contention for a win last weekend at Chicagoland, and finished third in the July Loudon race.
Tune into the race on Sunday at 2:00 on ESPN.