BUSCH: Chicagoland: Round 20 preview

* Second City Track Breeds First-Time Series Winners * Loop Data: Mears, Newman, Edwards, Harvick Top Chicago Stats Chicagoland Synonymous With First-Time Series Winners Including Mears DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 10, 2007) -- Chicago may be ...

* Second City Track Breeds First-Time Series Winners
* Loop Data: Mears, Newman, Edwards, Harvick Top Chicago Stats

Chicagoland Synonymous With First-Time Series Winners Including Mears

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 10, 2007) -- Chicago may be known as the "Second City," but its 1.5-mile speedway is quickly gaining a reputation as a "first-timer" track.

The six previous races at Chicagoland Speedway have resulted in four drivers securing their first career NASCAR Busch Series win.

Casey Mears (No. 24 National Guard -- 33rd Infantry Brigade Chevrolet) is the most recent member of the group; he's the defending winner of the race, capturing his first NASCAR national series victory at Chicago one year ago.

Justin Labonte won his first -- and to date only -- NASCAR Busch Series race at Chicago in 2004 when he took advantage of Mike Wallace (No. 7 GEICO Chevrolet) running out of fuel on the final lap.

In 2002, Johnny Sauter (No. 28 U.S. Border Patrol Chevrolet) held off late charges from Todd Bodine and Jeff Burton (No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet) to win his first NASCAR Busch Series race.

The inaugural race at Chicago in 2001 was won by Jimmie Johnson, a victory that still stands as his lone NASCAR Busch Series win in 85 career starts.

Mears and Sauter are entered in Saturday's race, as are former winners Bobby Hamilton Jr. (No. 35 McDonald's Ford -- 2003) and reigning series champion Kevin Harvick (No. 21 AutoZone Chevrolet -- 2005) who also won the first two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events at Chicagoland.

Those four drivers also will try to become the first two-time winner at Chicago in NASCAR Busch Series competition.

Sherman Hopes Chicago Homecoming Results In Second-Half Resurgence

Since homecomings bring back familiarity, Brent Sherman (No. 36 Big Lots Chevrolet) is banking that Saturday's visit to Chicagoland Speedway can help return him to his first-half performance this season.

Sherman, a resident of Wauconda, Ill. -- a tick under 50 miles from Chicago -- began the year in surprising fashion. He was 10th in the standings after three races, and 19th after seven events. Included in that span was his season-best finish to date, 15th at Mexico City.

Since a 16th-place at Talladega Superspeedway last April, Sherman has struggled to find early-season consistency. His average finish in that span has been 33rd, although he has registered three finishes of 24th or better in his last five races.

Sherman has one other NASCAR Busch Series start at his home track, in 2005 with owner Ketih Barnwell. He finished 24th.

In The Loop: First To Claim Second? Defending Race Winner Mears Among Chiacgo Repeat Favorites

Casey Mears will try to make it two in a row Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway -- a lofty feat considering consecutive wins haven't been posted since the NASCAR Busch Series started racing there in 2001.

Mears impressed last season in his first NASCAR Busch Series race at Chicago since 2003, leading 47 laps and racking up solid statistics. He had a Driver Rating of 127.3, an Average Running Position of 5.9, 24 Fastest Laps Run and spent 193 of the 200 laps in the top 15.

But the competition is strong again this weekend, with a number of double-duty drivers competing in the USG Durock 300.

One driver pulling double duty is Ryan Newman (No. 12 Kodak Dodge) who, in two starts (2001, '05), has two Busch Poles. In 2005, Newman finished third, earning a Driver Rating of 135.4. In that race, he also had an Average Running Position of 3.3, 40 Fastest Laps Run and spent all but four of the 200 laps in the top 15.

As usual, series leader Carl Edwards (No. 60 Sharp Ford) should run up front at Chicago. In his only two starts at the Joliet track, Edwards has two top-five finishes. In 2005, he finished fourth and last year, he was second to Mears. Combined, Edwards has a Driver Rating of 120.8, an Average Running Position of 6.6, 66 Fastest Laps Run (which is more than any other driver) and 361 Laps in the Top 15.

Reigning series champion Kevin Harvick will run his third consecutive race this weekend and there's no reason to think his success won't continue. Harvick has a win and a runner-up finish over his last two NASCAR Busch Series races this season and has finishes of first and fourth in his last two Chicago races.

He has a Chicago Driver Rating of 120.2, an Average Running Position of 5.6, 13 Fastest Laps Run and 386 Laps in the Top 15 -- which is more than any other driver.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jeff Burton , Todd Bodine , Kevin Harvick , Mike Wallace , Ryan Newman , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Justin Labonte , Johnny Sauter , Brent Sherman , Carl Edwards