Push for playoffs is upon us
This week’s NASCAR action saw all three top series travel to the Windy City, Chicago, illinois, and the Chicagoland Speedway. This 1 1/2-mile track is one of the more challenging because it has a lot of lower banking in the turns and handling plays a large role in a successful race.
On Friday evening the Camping World Truck series ran their final race of the regular season, TheHouse.com 225, and set the eight-truck field to battle it out to the Championship four at the end of the knock-out playoffs.
Ryan Truex showed the way early and had a very strong truck, grabbing the first stage win. The second stage saw Christopher Bell take the win. When the final checkered flag waved it was Johnny Sauter claiming the race win.
Johnny held off a hard-charging Chase Briscoe in second. Christopher Bell and Ryan Truex finished third and fourth, respectively. Grant Enfinger finished fifth. The eight drivers that will fight it out for the championship are Christopher Bell, Johnny Sauter, John Hunter Nemechek, Matt Crafton, Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Ben Rhodes and Daytona rookie winner Kaz Grala.
On Saturday afternoon, the Xfinity teams and drivers also took to the track in TheHouse.Com 300. This would also be the final race of the regular season for them. Twelve cars advance to the playoffs.
When the green flag waved Cup rookie Erik Jones lead and won stages one and two. As the final stage and the race moved on, Justin Allgaier took the lead and held on for the race win over Kyle Larson. Elliott Sadler finished third. Daniel Hemric and Austin Dillon rounded out the top five.
The 12 drivers advancing to the playoffs are William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Elliot Sadler, Daniel Hemric, Brennan Poole, Ryan Reed, Jeremy Clements, Blake Koch, Cole Custer, Matt Tifft, Brendan Gaughan, and Michael Annette. It will be interesting to see who will be able to make their way to the final four at Homestead-Miami Speedway and race it out for the Championship.
On Sunday it was the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series’ turn at Chicagoland. Nickelodeon Network presented the Tales of the Turtles 400 race. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were out in full force to the delight of all the younger fans!
Kyle Busch took the pole position. He was almost two-tenths of a second faster than the next car. It appeared that he would dominate and he won the first stage.
Chase Elliott broke up the domination by capturing the second stage. In the final stage and run to the finish Martin Truex Jr. became the car to beat and he drove away to the victory. This was the first race of the 2017 Championship Playoffs. His win locks him into the next round of eliminations and lets everyone know he is going to be a real threat to grab the Cup at Homestead.
Chase Elliott finished second but was unable to catch Martin at the end of the race. Kevin Harvick’s team worked on his car every pit stop and it was better handling at the end of the race. He stated after the race that he just didn’t have anything for Martin and Chase. He brought his Jimmy Johns Sandwich Ford home third.
There was talk of Toyota domination all week from several drivers. Brad Keselowski was the most outspoken one. Yes, they were strong and won the race. However, in the final rundown it was a Toyota followed by a Chevrolet and a Ford. Denny Hamlin finished fourth in his JGR Toyota and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five in his Ganassi Chevrolet.
This coming weekend the playoffs move to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the ISM Connect 300 for the Cup series Sunday. The focus will be on the four drivers that are 13th through 16th in the points standings. These drivers will be eliminated in just a few races. They are Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman. All of these drivers had bad runs at Chicagoland and need to get back on track to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Camping World Truck series will begin their playoff races on Saturday also at New Hampshire in the UNOH 175. The Xfinity drivers and teams will race at Kentucky Speedway in their first playoff race Saturday evening in the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300.
The next few weeks will determine who moves forward in the playoffs and will race for the Championship at Homestead- Miami Speedway in November.
Lots of great racing is coming up and don’t forget the Elkins Raceway Awards Banquet for 2017 is coming up on Nov. 11 at the Beverly Fire Hall in Beverly. Be sure and contact the track for tickets. There will be no tickets sold at the door.
There are some great ticket deals out there for these final NASCAR playoff races and plenty of great seats available. If you have never been to a top series NASCAR event live, plan a trip to see one of these playoff races. Martinsville is coming up in a few weeks and it’s a beautiful fall drive through our wonderful mountains to see the best drivers in the world rub and race their way toward a championship.
Remember at the end of the straightaway there’s Another Left Turn!