5 Questions Before ... LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway

Hey Skirts and Scuffs readers! Miss me? It’s been a while since I’ve done this column. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with it more consistently in the near future. Thanks for reading!

It’s to the “Windy City” for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this weekend, as all 43+ teams head to Chicagoland Speedway for the LifeLock.com 400 for the second Saturday night race in a row! Kevin Harvick will be gunning for two in a row at the 1.5-mile racetrack while Jimmie Johnson is looking for his third win in the past four races. This will be Chicagoland’s third race under the lights, so it’s a guarantee that sparks will be flying throughout the entire 400 mile race.

Here are some questions I have heading into the weekend…

How much talk will we hear about Jimmie Johnson’s new baby? … If you didn’t see the story already here on Skirts and Scuffs, Jimmie and wife Chandra welcomed a little baby girl into the world on Wednesday. If you remember how Jeff Gordon faired after the birth of his daughter, Ella Sofia Gordon, the media blamed any and all struggles he had on little Ella. If Johnson struggles at all in Chicagoland or at any other track afterwards, you can bet that a lot of people will be wondering if it’s due to the newest addition to the Johnson family.

Jeff Gordon has how many starts? … This weekend, Jeff Gordon will make his 600th consecutive start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Gordon made his very first start at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1992 in the Hooters 500. He finished 31st that day after a crash. 371 top 10s, 68 poles, and 82 wins later, Gordon has enjoyed a career that many others will only ever dream of. And he’s not finished yet! Though Gordon’s last win came in the Texas spring race in 2009, he has come close on many occasions thus far in 2010. How neat would it be for Gordon to win his 83rd career race in his 600th consecutive start?

Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. continue his recent surge? … Earnhardt has been on a hot streak in the Cup Series as of late, finishing in the top 11 in the last four races. Before Michigan, Earnhardt had an average finish of 17th. Since then, he has averaged an 8th place finish. Add a Nationwide Series win at Daytona last weekend and NASCAR’s most popular driver has quite a bit of momentum on his side! Earnhardt’s Chicago statistics have been all over the board for Earnhardt, with a win back in 2005. His average finish is 15th, with an average finish of 16th in the last three races. Flip a coin and decide whether or not you’ll put Earnhardt in your fantasy lineup for this weekend because your guess is as good as mine!

How much has changed in a year? … We’re (already!) halfway through the season and many changes have already been noted: the resurgence of Richard Childress Racing, the downfall of Roush Fenway Racing, and, oh yeah, “new” Kyle Busch. One surprising disappearance from competition, though, has been Mark Martin. Martin, the defending champion here at Chicagoland Speedway, had three wins at this point last season. This year, Martin has yet to break into Victory Lane and hasn’t finished higher than 4th. While Martin’s statistics this season might be respectable to a lesser driver, they pale in comparison to last year’s triumphs and in Martin’s career statistics as a whole.

How does the top 12 in points fare at Chicagoland? … Among the current top 12 drivers, they have a combined seven wins: Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart have two apiece while Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. each have one. There have only been nine races total at this racetrack. Harvick, Gordon, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, Stewart, and Earnhardt Jr. have been in all of them. The top 12 drivers have a combined average finish of 14.1. Jimmie Johnson has the best (shocker!) at 8.1.

Bonus questions: Can Kasey Kahne get the monkey off his back? … Can someone teach Kyle Busch how to take a deep breath and count to 10? … Who will fall out of (or move into) the top 12 in points after Chicago?

Photo courtesy of NASCAR Media. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
5 Questions Before ... LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway 5 Questions Before ... LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway Reviewed by Summer Dreyer on Thursday, July 08, 2010 Rating: 5