CHEVY’S ELITE EIGHT HEAD TO CHICAGO TO START THE CHASE
· Chevrolet is the most successful manufacturer at Chicagoland with eight wins
· Heading into the first race of the Chase, Team Chevy has eight representatives vying for the championship, more than any other brand
· A Chevy driver or team has won one out of the last five races at Chicagoland
DETROIT – (September 13, 2016) – The Chase field has been decided. Chevrolet heads into the first event of the 10-race playoff with eight representatives ready to compete for a championship title. Chevy’s chasers consist of four former champions, one veteran driver and three first timers to the championship hunt. The most successful manufacturer in the history of the Sprint Cup Series enters the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway looking to begin their quest for a 31st driver’s title and 40th Manufacturer’s championship.
The road to Homestead is long. Ten races, four elimination rounds and one champion will be decided. The first bracket of races consists of three distinctly unique tracks. The first comes this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway a 1.5-mile, tri-oval. For Team Chevy this season, beginning with a 1.5-mile track couldn’t be better, of Chevrolet’s seven wins thus far in 2016, four of them have come on tracks 1.5-mile or longer in length.
The statistics at Chicagoland Speedway are in the Team Chevy Chase driver’s favor. In his final year of competition as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, Tony Stewart and his No. 14 Chevy SS team made the Chase. Stewart has three wins at Chicagoland Speedway on his resume, more than any other driver. Stewart and his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Kevin Harvick share the record for most top five’s at the Joliet track with eight each.
Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and 2016 Chase contender, Jimmie Johnson holds the record for most poles at Chicago with two and most laps led, pacing the field for 577 of the 4,088 laps completed over the 15 races held at the venue to date. However, it is first-time championship hopeful Kyle Larson, who has the best average finish at Chicagoland of fifth.
Starting off the Chase with a solid finish at Chicagoland only sets the tone for the remaining nine races. Team Chevy looks to come out of the gate strong and click off a victory securing at least one of the elite eight drivers into the next round of the playoffs. Which driver will give the Bowtie Brand victory number nine at Chicago? Will it be a Chase contender or a driver outside of Chase contention hungry to get a win and turn their season around?
The first race of the Chase from Chicagoland Speedway is scheduled to begin Sunday, September 18 at 2:30 p.m. Live coverage of the 267-lap/400.5-mile contest will be available on NBCSN, MRN, Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and NASCAR.com.
TEAM CHEVY IN NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES (NSCS) COMPETITION:
· Chevrolet has won 39 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturer Championships
· Team Chevy drivers have scored 760 wins and 684 poles in NSCS competition
CHEVROLET ON THE TRACK—CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY:
Chevrolet drivers have won eight of 15 races at Chicagoland Speedway. Victories by current Team Chevy drivers are:
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, has three victories at Chicagoland Speedway (’04, ’07 & ’11)
Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, has two wins at Chicagoland Speedway (’01 & ‘02)
Ryan Newman, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS, has one trophy from Chicagoland Speedway (’03)
A Chevrolet driver has won one of the last five races at Chicagoland Speedway
A Chevrolet driver has sat on the pole at Chicagoland Speedway eight times
Team Chevy drivers have scored 45 top-five and 78 top-10 finishes at Chicagoland Speedway
A Chevrolet has led 2,248 laps (56.1% of possible 4,008 laps) at Chicagoland Speedway
ENGINEER EXPERTISE FROM THE GARAGE AREA – ALBA COLON, CHEVROLET RACING – PROGRAM MANAGER – NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES:
“Congratulations to our eight Chevrolet drivers who made the Chase for the Sprint Cup! We love our representation and our odds, along with the fact that our main four teams/organizations are included. This speaks high volumes of our team depth and the engineering support behind each one of them. Team Chevy is looking forward to the next 10 weeks of competition.
“This weekend, Team Chevy heads to Chicagoland Speedway for first race in the ‘Round of 16’. Interestingly enough, we visit this track once a year, but our teams had an opportunity to have an open team test the last month and were able to get some valuable data for this weekend’s race.
“Every team is very aware of what is at stake at this race. To finish well is very important. But, a win will guarantee that specific driver advancement into the next ‘Round of 12’, which begins at Charlotte Motor Speedway next month. A win also enables experimentation of set-ups during the following two races after Chicago. Our teams have been working relentlessly in the wind tunnel and simulator; and utilizing the many other tools they have at their disposal.
“We can’t wait for the Chase to begin and for the next 10-week playoff. It is sure to be filled with some great racing and a lot of excitement. Let the fun begin! We are ready!”
TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT:
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET SS – 4TH IN STANDINGS
“I think every track has its way of being able to get the best of you. A lot of those are just circumstances that – whether your car is just not cooperating that weekend or you can’t get a grasp of what you need for your driving style or whatever the case may be – you just have to adjust to. Every team in the garage has a situation or a weak spot that they feel like they need to maximize. Really the weekends that aren’t going well or the weekends that you have to overcome – those are the weekends that really make the championship within reach when you’re able to turn those weekends around and can make something out of it. The easy weekends are when you have a good car and go out and you win the race – those are the weekends that are the easiest. The hard weekends are when things are bad and you have to turn that around and get a good finish and move on the next week.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – 8TH IN STANDINGS
“Chicago is a great place to start off the Chase. It’s a great market and a good track where we’ve run pretty well. I’ve wanted to win there so bad for Chad since it’s his hometown track. We’ve been close at Chicago a few times but ended up giving them away. For the next ten weeks, we are in championship focus and we learned a lot last year from this format and we need to be there at the cutoffs and also to be there at the end at Homestead. We need to run well every week. There is a lot of effort going on to make this chase for our seventh championship.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 COKE CHEVROLET SS – 10TH IN STANDINGS
“Our Target team is really clicking right now, and it’s been fun to see all the hard work we’ve put in show off at the track. Richmond definitely hasn’t been one of my stronger tracks, so to come away with a runner-up finish last weekend felt really good and goes to show how strong our cars are right now. Our finishes the past three races are the best ever over a three race span for CGR, so we’re looking to continue the momentum as the Chase starts. We’ll be in a Coke Chevy to kick off the Chase and in addition to savoring the moment of that first race, we’ll be looking for a strong run. We’ve had some really good races the past two seasons at Chicagoland, so it’s definitely a good place for us to start. We’ll continue to be aggressive and race smart as we look to advance out of the first round.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 RUSH TRUCK CENTERS/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET SS – 11TH IN STANDINGS
“I don’t think it’s that critical. It’s what you want to do and all the teams will strive to do. But, if you have a bad race at Chicago, or it doesn’t go exactly as you want, I don’t think it is the end of the world. The main thing each time is to advance to the next round. You have to outperform four other guys. Do you have to win or have a top-five at Chicago to start it off right? I don’t think so. But the last thing you want is to have a bad race that puts you in a hole right after Chicago.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 41 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS – 12TH IN STANDINGS
“Chicago is a fast, mile-and-a-half track I have always enjoyed racing since I started racing there in my rookie season. The track isn’t as smooth as it used to be – it has some bumps in it – but it’s a place I like. It’s another one of those tracks, though, where I just haven’t had the best of luck. An example is the 2002 race. We had a really fast car for that race but, for some reason after the last pit stop, the car just wasn’t handling the same as it had been. We were just way too tight and really couldn’t figure out why. When we got back to the shop and started going over the car, we realized that the radiator pan had come off and that’s like 100 pounds of front downforce. We were going so fast that the car bottomed out and dragged the radiator pan out. It’s just weird stuff like that.”
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET SS – 14TH IN STANDINGS
“It is definitely exciting. It is a heck of an opportunity. I’m very happy that we were able to squeak through. Getting in is the first very small step of these last 10 races. Obviously, you would rather have won your way in and have a win at this point, but I would much rather win in these last 10 races if I had a choice. We will take it a week at a time. I think we have to have the mentality that we could go to Homestead and give ourselves a chance. I think if we don’t have that mentality as a team and as a group and as an organization then we should have just let the guy behind us get in. We are going to give it our best effort and we are going to fight as hard as we can and give it the best shot we can.”
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 DOW CHEVROLET SS – 15TH IN STANDINGS
“Chicagoland Speedway is one of my favorite tracks and we are going there to win. That is all we are doing. We are going there to win and see what happens after that.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET SS – 16TH IN STANDINGS
“I’m looking forward to making my way to Chicago this weekend. Both of our teams are running really well right now and I feel that we are in a better place than we were at this time last year. We tested in Chicago a couple of weeks ago and I feel we should have good cars this weekend. Being able to make the Chase for the second year in a row is a great accomplishment for our team and I am ready to get it started at Chicagoland Speedway.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET SS – 17TH IN STANDINGS
“Chicago is just a big circle. It’s important to keep the Caterpillar Chevrolet turning and on the gas. Those two things are super important more so than other tracks we compete. Also, the track has some character bumps so any kind of breaking of momentum at a track with its configuration is important so having a car that can ride over those bumps well is so important.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 LIFTMASTER CHEVROLET SS – 18TH IN STANDINGS
“The team has been giving me fast cars the last three weeks. They are doing a nice job so we just have to keep going from there. We want to be consistent in the last 10 races and keeping running in the top 10 and work on winning races. We’ll keep pushing forward.”
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 KROGER/DIGIORNO/HOT POCKETS CHEVROLET SS – 20TH IN STANDINGS
“I’d say Chicagoland Speedway is a little more unique compared to the other mile-and-a-half racetracks. It’s a little bit like Kansas (Speedway). The corners in Turn 1 and Turn 2 have that feel that they are kind of a little more open than Turn 3 and 4 that have a lot tighter feeling than 1 and 2. Kansas has a feel like that. The pavement is a lot older. If it gets a little bit warm, it definitely gets slicker and harder on tires. The grooves move around there a lot. As the race plays out, you can run top, middle or bottom. You definitely have choices in different ways you can work the race car to get speed around there. It’s a tough place. I think our mile-and-a-half program’s gotten better. I’m encouraged to go to Chicago and keep trying to improve. I think we can go there, get our car right and have a solid run. It’s definitely a tough place.”
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 NATURE’S BAKERY/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES CHEVROLET SS – 24TH IN STANDINGS
“The Chase format makes it more exciting and interesting and adds an extra element to things. It adds an extra storyline to a lot of weekends, especially those at the speedways where unexpected things happen. But no matter what weekend it is, you are trying to do as well as you can.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MOEN/MENARDS CHEVROLET SS – 25TH IN STANDINGS
“Chicagoland Speedway is one of the newer facilities on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. Over the past couple of years the racing groove has widened, which allows for more passing opportunities. The backstretch there is slightly curved, but it doesn’t affect the car too much. Because of the curve, you’ve got to slightly turn the car left going down the straightaway. It’s a fun track and a fast track.”
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 15 PEAK CHEVROLET SS – 28TH IN STANDINGS
“I really like Chicago because there are a lot of running options there. You can run anywhere from the bottom to top at that track. It’s also the home track of PEAK, who we have on board this weekend, so it should be a pretty fun race.”
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, NO. 95 THRIVENT FINANCIAL/DONATELLO CHEVROLET SS – 33RD IN STANDINGS
“Chicago is a fun place to go. We were there to test a few weeks ago so that always helps just to be able to make some laps before going back to race. The surface of the track is worn out, and the line moves around quite a bit there, so it’s a fun mile and a half track just because it’s one of those surfaces that hasn’t been repaved. You can move all around, and with the low grip, it’s kind of fun to slide around.”
ALEX BOWMAN, INTERIM DRIVER, NO. 88 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS:
“Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has been super-welcoming, from (Hendrick Motorsports owner) Mr. (Rick) Hendrick to Greg (Ives, crew chief) and the No. 88 guys. There are some great racetracks ahead for me. I think we can run up front at all of them, but there are a couple I think we can go to and contend for wins. Chicagoland is one that I’m definitely looking forward to.”