Chicagoland: In the loop

Kenseth Aims For Elusive Chicagoland Victory DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 11, 2007) -- Matt Kenseth says he enjoys racing at Chicagoland Speedway. But the relationship -- and his patience -- have been tested over the past two years. Kenseth ...

Kenseth Aims For Elusive Chicagoland Victory

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 11, 2007) -- Matt Kenseth says he enjoys racing at Chicagoland Speedway. But the relationship -- and his patience -- have been tested over the past two years.

Kenseth endured terrible luck in each of the Chicagoland races in 2005 and 2006. In 2005, he led a race-high 176 laps, but crafty pit strategy gave Dale Earnhardt Jr. the win. Kenseth finished second.

Then, last year, Jeff Gordon got into the back of Kenseth's car while he was leading. Kenseth settled for a 22nd place finish, though he again led the most laps (112).

Still, Kenseth holds no ill-will towards the 1.5-mile track, the site of this Sunday's USG Sheetrock 400.

"We've had a car capable of winning the past two years but for one reason or another, that just hasn't happened," Kenseth said. "Some might think that it's really frustrating, and it is, but I also think we should be proud that we've had a car capable of putting us in position to win."

Despite an average finish of 12.0 over the past two Chicagoland races, Kenseth still has the best stats. He heads the field in Driver Rating (130.0), Average Running Position (3.4), Fastest Laps Run (128), Laps Led (288) and Laps in the Top 15 (529).

Kenseth also owns some of the single-race records at Chicagoland since Loop Data's inception in 2005.

The defending champion of this event, Jeff Gordon, has not enjoyed the same two-year success. Actually, Gordon's win last season -- the first Chicagoland win of his career -- was a bit of a surprise. Considering how poorly Gordon ran in 2005, the 2006 win was unforeseen. Below is a comparison between Gordon in 2005 at Chicagoland and Gordon in 2006.

Jeff Gordon, Chicagoland 2005
Finish: 33rd
Driver Rating: 48.1
Average Running Position: 24.6
Laps Led: 0
Fastest Laps Run: 0
Laps in the Top 15: 22

Jeff Gordon, Chicagoland 2006
Finish: 1st
Driver Rating: 131.7
Average Running Position: 3.6
Laps Led: 20
Fastest Laps Run: 52
Laps in the Top 15: 270

The Race to the Chase -- the final 10 races prior to the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup -- continues, as drivers outside the top 12 have eight more races to make a move.

Going into Sunday's race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- in 12th place -- could add some distance between himself and 13th-place driver Jamie McMurray.

Earnhardt has the best stats of the "bubble" drivers at Chicagoland: Driver Rating of 106.8 (third-best), Average Running Position of 9.56 (seventh-best), 37 Fastest Laps Run (third-best), 473 Laps in the Top 15 (third-best). He won there in 2005.

McMurray, who is coming off his thrilling Daytona win, has the 40th-best Driver Rating (47.1) at Chicagoland to go along with an Average Running Position of 29.9.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Jamie McMurray