Who to watch at Chicagoland

Daytona Beach, FL - Feb 5, 2010: Ryan Newman waits by the No. 39 US Army Chevrolet before practice began for the Daytona 500.

I hope everyone took my advise and stayed away from Jamie McMurray last week. Didn’t I tell you those RCR cars were going to be tough?

I can’t help but think that Kevin Harvick could win back to back races. After all he has won 2 times at Chicagoland in 9 starts and has finished in the top-10 on 6 other occasions.

Of course Harvick isn’t the only Chevy driver to watch. Tony Stewart also has 2 wins and 7 top-10’s in 9 starts and his teammate Ryan Newman has a win of his own and five top-10’s in 8 starts.

Then again there’s still Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt to think about, both of which have wins at the track. Gordon had yet another nice finish last Saturday night at Daytona and the role that Earnhardt Jr is on is unmatched considering he’s finished three of the last four events in the top 10 and finished 11th in the other.

Then there is car 48. Can you believe Jimmie Johnson has never won at Chicagoland? He has finished in the top-10 in 7 of his 8 starts there so you can’t help but sense a win is coming.

Kyle Busch remains a solid bet as does his brother Kurt. Considering his recent luck Kyle may be flying a little under the radar right now.

I’m on the fence about Denny Hamlin. While he has just one top-10 finished to his credit it did come last year and if you take out his 40th place finish in 2008 then he’s averaging a 12th place finish at the event. Only 6 active drivers (and Brian Vickers) rank higher then him and one of this is Marcos Ambrose who made his first start at the track last year.

Martin Truex has made four starts at the track, but if you take out his engine failure from 2007 (a race he led 12 laps and started second) then he had an average of 13.6 finishing spot.

With the exception of Matt Kenseth there hasn’t been much success out of the Ford camp in Joliet. And considering the way he’s ran of late it’s best to just steer clear of anything with a blue oval. Carl Edwards has never been any good, even in the races he’s finished, and Greg Biffle will get you nothing more then a 15th-20th place finish.

If you are looking for lighting in a bottle maybe Jeff Burton is the best bet. While he’s been hit or miss the races he’s actually stayed out of trouble by my count five out of nine has resulted an average of 10.4 on the finish. Of course he’s also had his share of misfortunes at the track. Considering how well Burton has ran of late you have to think that he will get the Caterpillar Chevy in victory lane at some point this year.

Needless to say Mark Martin is not a good idea this weekend. Despite a win and 4 top-10’s to his credit he’s in a bad slump right now. He’s finished 20th or worse in 3 of the last 5 races and his best finish during that time is actually a 14th at Sonoma.

Anyone not mentioned above is to be stayed away from. Yes I am talking about Kasey Kahne as well.

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