The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series makes its one and only stop at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois this week for the Camping World 400. This is the 17th race of the regular season and a return to normalcy for a lot of drivers with a 1.5-mile track for the first time in over a month. Fans have been clamoring for more short-track racing, but the drivers, some of them anyway, have to be excited to be back where they feel most comfortable.
Odds for the Camping World 400 are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and down below the comment box for mobile viewers as we take a look at this weekend’s festivities.
Martin Truex Jr. won last week at Sonoma to secure his fourth win of the season. That makes 10 now for Toyota and three of the last four. For a while, it looked like Ford had closed the gap, but Joe Gibbs Racing is back to dominating in the winner’s circle. Ford won two of the first three races and three of the first six, but Toyota has seven of the last 10 full-length races.
That being said, Joey Logano, a Ford driver for the Penske team, still leads in points and Kevin Harvick is third, but Harvick remains winless. Logano won at Michigan two weeks ago for his first win since Las Vegas in March. Kyle Busch finished second last week and cut the deficit in the standings down to one point behind Logano, who was 23rd.
Brad Keselowski marks a third Ford driver in the top five, but Toyota is really racking up the wins. The points and the standings matter from a playoff standpoint, but the wins are what really, truly counts in this sport and really in any sport. Keselowski does have three of those.
This is the earliest date for the race at Chicagoland Speedway. Last year’s race was July 1, which was previously the earliest race by eight days. Therefore, this is the first time the race has been in June. This race was in September from 2011 to 2017, so there were some changes last year for the pit crews with regards to tire wear on the warmer track. We could see that once again this year.
This is a unique part of the schedule. From now until the last three races of the season, the drivers will run on tracks of a different length each week. This is 1.5 miles. Next week at Daytona is 2.5. The following week at Kentucky is 1.5, with New Hampshire at 1.058, Pocono at 2.5, Watkins Glen at 2.45, and so on from there. It doesn’t matter a ton, as these are world-class drivers and crews, but it is interesting, especially with the glut of 1.5-mile tracks early in the year.
Toyota Takeover Cont.
Toyota is taking over the 2019 season, but Toyota has already taken over at Chicagoland Speedway. Five of the last six installments of this race have been won by Toyota drivers. Matt Kenseth won in 2013, with Denny Hamlin in 2015, Truex in 2016 and 2017, and Busch in 2018. Even David Reutimann has a win here for Toyota back in 2010. In all, of the 18 years this race has been run, Toyota has seven wins, all of them since 2008. Chevy leads with eight wins, but six of them came before 2008.
Toyota didn’t join the then Sprint Cup Series until 2007 and added Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008, so take Chevy’s early dominance with an entire shaker of salt. Since Toyota came to the neighborhood, it has been a different story.
Kyle Busch is your +330 favorite, with Harvick at +495, Truex +660, Keselowski and Logano +880, and everybody else 11/1 or longer. Harvick has regularly been the second favorite this season and still hasn’t come up with a victory. In fact, he only has one stage win since the third race of the season. That was at Kansas where he led the most laps.
Busch won last year’s race, so he’s a deserving favorite. Prior to that, he hadn’t finished in the top five since 2013, though he did lead the most laps in 2015. Truex, a back-to-back winner here with his Furniture Row Racing team, was fourth last year. Prior to his win in 2016, he hadn’t finished better than ninth. Times have changed.
It will take a big effort from the Ford boys to knock off a Toyota. Logano’s best finish here was second back in 2017. He was fourth in 2014. Keselowski is a two-time winner here, but has finished outside the top four each of the last four years.
It’s tough to like anybody else. Kyle Larson’s price is down to 11/1, so we had our value shots on him and he fell short. This is a 1.5-mile track and the best of the best tend to shine there.
I do think that there is a Toyota driver well down the board that is worthy of some consideration. That is Erik Jones. Jones was fourth at Texas and third at Kansas in 1.5-mile races earlier this year. You could do a lot worse than a Toyota car at +2200 in this race. He was sixth here last year the week before his first career Cup Series victory at Daytona.
Aside from throwing a dart at Jones, who did win here in the Xfinity Series in both 2015 and 2016 (!!) (and led the most laps in 2017), Truex is the best bet in the +660 range among the favorites. His team is firing on all cylinders right now and he’s had a lot of good runs here in recent years.
Jones and Truex are it for me this week. I don’t think there are any potential surprises outside of Jones, so this is a week to keep it simple.