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Nascar at Chicago: Sprint Cup Saturday Night Excitement – the Lifelock 400

The Chicagoland Speedway near the “Windy City” is the place for this week’s Nascar Sprint Cup race and, from this Fan’s View, it will be a real test of speed, fuel mileage and tire management. While we’re at it, let’s not forget the race strategies that may play an even larger part in who actually goes to Victory Lane.

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I’m not saying this will be a fuel management race, but it could go that way depending on how the race progresses as the drop of the checkered flag approaches near the end of the race. The other possible determining factor could be how the tires hold up during a run. With the COT it is hard to tell just how much the tires will impact the finish of the race. Personally, I think we will know more after the race starts and have a chance to observe how much the times fall off on extended green flag runs.

One thing about Chicagoland is certain; the speeds WILL be fast and the tires WILL determine just how fast every competitor will be. If the speeds stay relatively consistent throughout a run, this could be a breakaway of just a few cars while the others just try to keep up.

Just one more quick observation from this Fan’s View; Since speed is going to determine the outcome of the race so much, it would probably be wise to check out the teams with the faster consistent times during practices and consider them as possible winners of the Lifelock 400 more than others.

Although I do believe qualifying nearer the front will have some impact on the outcome, I do not expect it to be as much of a determining factor as last week with Tony Stewart’s victory at Daytona. The Red Bull teams of Bryan Vickers and Scott Speed qualified on the front row but I am not sure they will be out front at the end. Vickers has been showing a lot of consistency and strength this year but he just hasn’t been there at the end. Scott Speed … well … we’ll see.

The Chevys and Toyotas look to be strong contenders tonight. Even the Dodges could pull off a surprise, but the Fords just don’t look to have it yet. Carl Edwards is probably the most likely Ford with obvious potential for taking the checkered flag, but Chicago hasn’t been a good place for the Roush Fords so far.

I do think if it is a Ford tonight, not only will it be a surprise but it will be Carl Edwards doing a back flip celebrating his first victory of the year and Roush’s first cup victory at Chicagoland. (Uh, like I said, I will be surprised if a Ford wins tonight, but it very well could happen.)

So once again that brings me to the part I look forward to every week. It’s where this fan likes to see if he can actually pick the winner for the race tonight. There are a lot variables for tonight’s race but it isn’t much different than most weeks in Nascar Cup racing.

I think the race will have a decidedly different outcome if there is a caution somewhere in the last ten laps of the race as opposed to earlier. That’s where I see the problem with actually picking the winner for tonight. If it is a long green flag run to the finish, it could be a fuel mileage and tire management race. If it comes down to a double-file restart inside the last ten, it could look a lot like a restrictor plate “Big One”.

Depending on how the tires hold up, it could be a “gas and go” with no tires and track position being the key. I just don’t know, that new double-file restart thing could totally change the normally expected outcome. At any rate I do expect it to be exciting if that does happen.

In making my final choice for the winner, I find it hard to overlook the Hendrick teams and equipment with the way they have been running this year and I do think one of them will finish out front. I also have to admit the obvious strength of The Toyota teams of Joe Gibbs, Michael Waltrip and Red Bull. The longer shots as I see it are the Dodges and Fords.

When it comes right down to making a choice, my best guesses would be Mark Martin, Jimmy Johnson or Jeff Gordon. Kyle Bush, Bryan Vickers or even David Reutimann could do it for the Toyotas. It is even possible that Clint Boyer or Jeff Burton could be a surprise from the Chevy camps or even one of the Penske Dodges could make a showing. Any way you look at it, it is a tough call given the possibilities and individual strengths of all the teams.

So, who do I actually pick to win? Any of the the above mentioned ones could win but I think I will go with Jimmy Johnson. I think he and Chad Knaus have something to prove tonight. It will be a close finish but the 48 team is going to win. I also think all of the Hendrick teams are going to finish in the top twelve tonight… Is that sticking my neck out or what???

See ya next time …

Rusty

(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© July 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman

By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.