See how they will lineup for Sunday's race (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Pos Car Driver Team 1 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 2 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet 3 99 Carl Edwards Fastenal Ford 4 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford EcoBoost Ford 5 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 6 15 Clint Bowyer PEAK Radiator Guarantee Toyota 7 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 8 24 Jeff Gordon Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet 9 27 Paul Menard Richmond/Menards Chevrolet 10 42 Kyle Larson # Target Chevrolet 11 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 12 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Chevrolet 13 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet 14 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 15 3 Austin Dillon # Dow Chevrolet 16 55 Brian Vickers Aaron's/Samsung Partner of the Year Toyota 17 47 AJ Allmendinger Kingsford Charcoal Chevrolet 18 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet 19 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 20 16 Greg Biffle ScotchBlue Ford 21 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford 22 14 Tony Stewart Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 23 43 Aric Almirola Eckrich Ford 24 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota 25 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 26 51 Justin Allgaier # Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet 27 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Chevrolet 28 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 29 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 30 38 David Gilliland Love's Travel Stops Ford 31 83 Ryan Truex # Burger King Toyota 32 95 Michael McDowell Thrivent Financial Ford 33 26 Cole Whitt # Iowa City Capital Partners Toyota 34 98 Josh Wise Phil Parsons Racing Chevrolet 35 7 Michael Annett # TMC/Allstate Chevrolet 36 36 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 37 23 Alex Bowman # Dr Pepper Toyota 38 40 Landon Cassill(i) Snap Fitness Chevrolet 39 34 David Ragan Dockside Ford 40 37 Mike Bliss(i) Accell Construction, Inc. Chevrolet 41 66 Joe Nemechek(i) Royal Teak Toyota 42 33 Travis Kvapil Little Joe's Autos Chevrolet 43 32 Joey Gase(i) Zimmer Ford MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
A statistical look ahead to the opening race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 8, 2014) –Below is a look at the performances of the 16 Challengers at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois going into the MyAfibStory.com 400 , the first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, on September 14 at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN. CHICAGO-SPECIFIC STATISTICS 1 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford ) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 103.0 2014 Rundown · Four wins, 11 top fives, 13 top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 13.5 · Led 20 races for 1,278 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · One win, two top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 12.6 in five races · Average Running Position of 13.0, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 93.6, eighth-best · 85 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.375 mph, eighth-fastest 2 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.1 2014 Rundown · Three wins, nine top fives, 17 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.0 · Led 18 races for 545 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · One win, six top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.6 in 13 races · Average Running Position of 11.9, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 96.9, fifth-best · 133 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · 548 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.475 mph, sixth-fastest · 1,769 Laps in the Top 15 (73.5%), fourth-most · Series-high 322 Quality Passes 3 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 98.0 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 11 top fives, 16 top 10s · Average finish of 10.9 · Led 12 races for 220 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · One win, three top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 15.8 in 13 races · Average Running Position of 13.9, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 87.4, 13th-best · 65 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 622 Green Flag Passes, second-most · 1,537 Laps in the Top 15 (63.9%), eighth-most · 282 Quality Passes, third-most 4 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 99.9 2014 Rundown · Three wins, eight top fives, 16 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.2 · Led 15 races for 1,035 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · Seven top fives, 10 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 8.9 in 12 races · Series-best Average Running Position of 7.1 · Series-best Driver Rating of 117.1 · Series-high 351 Fastest Laps Run · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 170.236 mph · Series-high 2,085 Laps in the Top 15 (86.7%) · 274 Quality Passes, sixth-most 5 - Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford ) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.3 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.2 · Led 18 races for 721 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · One top 10; one pole · Average finish of 19.4 in five races · Average Running Position of 17.1, 19th-best · Driver Rating of 80.7, 20th-best 6 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.7 2014 Rundown · Two wins, eight top fives, 13 top 10s; six poles · Average finish of 14.8 · Led 18 races for 1,186 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · Two wins, seven top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 9.9 in 13 races · Average Running Position of 11.9, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 96.4, sixth-best · 557 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.511 mph, fifth-fastest · 1,637 Laps in the Top 15 (68.0%), sixth-most · 264 Quality Passes, ninth-most 7 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford ) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 82.6 2014 Rundown · Two wins, six top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 14.7 · Led 9 races for 133 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · Three top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 16.0 in nine races · Average Running Position of 15.1, 16th-best · Driver Rating of 90.1, 10th-best · 112 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · 569 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · 1,570 Laps in the Top 15 (65.3%), seventh-most · 316 Quality Passes, second-most 8 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.9 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, nine top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 18.2 · Led 12 races for 365 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · One win, four top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 12.1 in nine races · Average Running Position of 10.3, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 102.7, fourth-best · 124 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.608 mph, fourth-fastest · 1,793 Laps in the Top 15 (74.5%), third-most · 276 Quality Passes, fifth-most 9 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.0 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, 11 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 15.2 · Led 11 races for 163 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · One top five, two top 10s · Average finish of 20.5 in eight races · Average Running Position of 16.9, 18th-best · Driver Rating of 81.2, 19th-best · 236 Quality Passes, 11th-most 10 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 87.6 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 19.2 · Led 11 races for 181 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · One top five, seven top 10s · Average finish of 17.2 in 13 races · Average Running Position of 15.0, 15th-best · Driver Rating of 86.2, 15th-best · 64 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 530 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · 1, 400 Laps in the Top 15 (58.2%), 11th-most 11 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmer's Insurance Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 89.9 2014 Rundown · One win, three top fives, 10 top 10s · Average finish of 16.3 · Led 10 races for 204 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · Two top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 18.3 in 10 races · Average Running Position of 17.3, 20th-best · Driver Rating of 82.8, 18th-best · 75 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most 12 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Eckrich Ford ) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 73.9 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, six top 10s · Average finish of 20.1 · Led 4 races for 21 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · Average finish of 15.0 in two races · Average Running Position of 13.2, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 85.8, 16th-best 13 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Kingsford Charcoal Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.7 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 20.9 · Led 5 races for 68 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · Average finish of 17.6 in five races · Average Running Position of 19.0, 21st-best · Driver Rating of 72.2, 23rd-best 14 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 92.8 2014 Rundown · 10 top fives, 16 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.0 · Led 16 races for 465 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · One win, three top fives, five top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.8 in 13 races · Average Running Position of 10.2, third-best · Driver Rating of 105.4, third-best · 222 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.840 mph, third-fastest · 1,733 Laps in the Top 15 (72.0%), fifth-most · 241 Quality Passes, 10th-most 15 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 ScotchBlue Ford ) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 81.3 2014 Rundown · Three top fives, 10 top 10s · Average finish of 15.3 · Led 6 races for 109 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · One top five, one top 10 · Average finish of 18.0 in 11 races · Average Running Position of 15.4, 17th-best · Driver Rating of 87.7, 12th-best · 75 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · Series-high 653 Green Flag Passes · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.136 mph, 12th-fastest 16 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 84.7 2014 Rundown · Two top fives, 10 top 10s · Average finish of 14.1 · Led 4 races for 24 laps Chicagoland Speedway Outlook: · One win, three top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.5 in 12 races · Average Running Position of 14.9, 14th-best · Driver Rating of 83.2, 17th-best · 561 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · 1,311 Laps in the Top 15 (54.5%), 12th-most · 235 Quality Passes, 12th-most Chicagoland Speedway: History · Construction of the Chicagoland Speedway began in August 1999. · The first NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicago was July 14, 2001. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was held on July 15, 2001 – won by Kevin Harvick. · This weekend marks the fourth year Chicagoland Speedway has been included in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup – Sept. 18, 2011. Notebook · There have been 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Chicagoland Speedway, one race per season since the first event in 2001. · 108 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway; 84 in more than one. · Eight drivers have competed in all 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events at Chicagoland Speedway; four of which are Chase Contenders: Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick. · Todd Bodine won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Chicago in 2001 with a speed of 183.717 mph. · 10 drivers have Coors Light poles at Chicago, led by Jimmie Johnson with two. · Youngest Chicago pole winner: Joey Logano (09/15/2013 – 23 years, 3 months, 22 days). · Oldest Chicago pole winner: Matt Kenseth (09/19/2011 – 39 years, 6 months, 9 days). · 10 different NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have won at Chicagoland Speedway, led by Tony Stewart with three; followed by Kevin Harvick with two (first two series events at speedway). · Six Chase Contenders are former winners at Chicagoland Speedway: Kevin Harvick , Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. · Kevin Harvick (2001, 2002) is the only driver to post consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins at Chicagoland Speedway · Youngest Chicago winner: Kyle Busch (07/12/2008 – 23 years, 2 months, 10 days). · Oldest Chicago winner: Mark Martin (07/11/2009 – 50 years, 6 months, 2 days). · Joe Gibbs Racing has the most wins at Chicago in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with four: Tony Stewart (two), Kyle Busch (one) and Matt Kenseth (one). Richard Childress Racing, Penske Racing and Hendrick Motorsports each have two. · Three different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Chicago; led by Chevrolet with eight victories; followed by Toyota with three and Dodge with two each. Ford has yet to win at Chicago. · One of the 13 (7.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Chicago have been won from the Coors Light pole; Kyle Busch in 2008. · Five of the 13 (38.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Chicago have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Three of the 13 (23.0%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Chicago have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Chicago is 32nd, by Kevin Harvick in 2002. · Kyle Busch swept the weekend at Chicagoland Speedway winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series races in 2008. · Jimmie Johnson leads the series in runner-up finishes at Chicago with three; followed by Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth with two each. · Tony Stewart leads the series in top-five finishes at Chicago with eight; followed by Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick with seven each and Jeff Gordon with six. · &nbs
RPM driver shows gratitude to Ambrose for contributions to organization RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota LOUDON, N.H. -- Aric Almirola has plenty of pressure to perform the next two weekends to keep his Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason hopes alive. One thing he's scratched off the list of things to worry about -- the livelihood of his Richard Petty Motorsports team. Despite his last-place position in the 16-driver playoff, Almirola was almost all smiles Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , two days after his team reaffirmed its commitment to remain a two-car operation in 2015. It's the sort of long-term vote of confidence in the wake of teammate Marcos Ambrose 's impending departure that can at least soothe some of the opening-round heartbreak that visited The King's famed No. 43 last weekend at Chicagoland. "It's really important," Almirola said. "You see most or all of the top teams in this sport are multi-car teams and that's important to have that resource of teammates and more information. I think any time you do things with just one person it becomes really easy to get stuck in your ways and not be able to see outside the box, but as soon as you get more information, more teammates, more heads thinking on the same thing, it opens your eyes to a lot of different opportunities as far as setups and people and ways to go about setting your cars up and processes in the shop. "So I think anytime something like this is going down, it's important for the guys and first and foremost for the guys at the race team to know that, 'Hey, you're OK, you're safe. We’re not shutting the car down. We're gonna have two cars and we're gonna go racing.' So that's first and foremost of the importance to let those guys know that they're OK, but on top of that for everything that we've built over the last four or five years to this point and being a winning race team and a Chase-contending race team, to let everybody know that's still our goal and we’re not backing down from that." Carrying over the status quo isn't necessarily the worst thing that could happen to a team that's seen its share of ownership changes over the years. Mergers and partnerships with principals such as Ray Evernham, Robert Yates and George Gillett made the team a cauldron of uncertainty throughout the previous decade as it shrank from a four-car conglomerate to a two-car stable, but the past three years have marked a period of relative stability in both the ownership and driver lineup. The smooth seas at RPM took on more than a ripple last weekend with Ambrose's announcement that he'd return to his native Australia, leaving Petty's No. 9 Ford with a prominent vacancy for 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage. While Almirola, who signed a three-year contract extension with RPM back in January, awaits the team's next chapter, he expressed his gratitude for Ambrose's legacy and lasting contributions. "He was there a year before me, so he was there at probably its darkest hour with the Gillett split and bankruptcy and Richard putting a lot of his own money to keep the team alive, and going from four cars down to two," Almirola said. "Marcos has seen a lot of that company and helped build it to where it is today, and I'm extremely appreciative of that because I get to reap the benefits of that. I feel like I was a big part of that, but I came in a year later. He's probably been one of the best teammates that I've ever worked with. He's such a fun guy and a lot of fun to be around, and he's an extremely good race car driver." For the shorter term, Almirola and Co. need to regroup -- and fast -- to make their imprint in the Contender Round, the next three-race cut in the new-look Chase. Reaching that goal means turning it on in this Sunday's Sylvania 300 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) and following up strong the next weekend's race at Dover International Speedway. While Almirola said he didn't think he'd need a win-or-else approach over the next two races to advance, he also knows a repeat of the 41st-place finish outside the Windy City last weekend would be devastating. The Chicago setback hasn't stopped the 30-year-old from crunching the numbers to see how he'll avoid being one of the four eliminated drivers after Dover . "All the guys on my team and myself included know that we've got to go out and for our best shot -- without winning, for our best shot to transfer we have to run top-five the next two weeks," Almirola said. "There's no doubt about it and we've got to hope that the guys that are already down in points run 20th-25th. I think right now we're 23 points out of 12th, so if we run fifth and Carl (Edwards) runs 20th, that's 15 points and that puts us within seven going to Dover . That makes it a reality getting to Dover , but we've got to take a big chunk out here." While it's small consolation now, Almirola said that engine builder Doug Yates pinpointed the broken exhaust valve that caused his No. 43 car to go up in smoke just 37 laps from the finish last weekend, saying that similar trouble befell fellow Ford drivers Joey Logano at Kentucky and Ambrose at Atlanta earlier in the year. Almirola was heartened by the fact that it was just his first engine-related failure to finish in his three years with the Petty group, but that the timing of the misfortune could not have been worse. "Of all weekends for it to happen the first race of the Chase," Almirola said, "Why could it have not happened at Atlanta or Richmond or wherever else, but it is what it is. It just wasn't meant to be. The stars didn't line up right for us at Chicago, but we’ll rebound." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
See what drivers are set to be in the field at Chicagoland RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize Entry # Driver Owner Crew chief Manufacturer Sponsor 1 1 Jamie McMurray Felix Sabates Keith Rodden 14 Chevrolet McDonald's 2 2 Brad Keselowski Roger Penske Paul Wolfe 14 Ford Miller Lite 3 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Gil Martin 14 Chevrolet Dow 4 4 Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart Rodney Childers 14 Chevrolet Jimmy John's 5 5 Kasey Kahne Linda Hendrick Kenny Francis 14 Chevrolet Farmer's Insurance 6 7 Michael Annett Tommy Baldwin Kevin Manion 14 Chevrolet Allstate/TMC 7 9 Marcos Ambrose Richard Petty Drew Blickensderfer 14 Ford STANLEY 8 10 Danica Patrick Tony Stewart Tony Gibson 14 Chevrolet GoDaddy 9 11 Denny Hamlin J D Gibbs Darian Grubb 14 Toyota FedEx Office 10 13 Casey Mears Bob Germain Bootie Barker III 14 Chevrolet No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS 11 14 Tony Stewart Margaret Haas Chad Johnston 14 Chevrolet Mobil 1/ Bass Pro Shops 12 15 Clint Bowyer Rob Kauffman Brian Pattie 14 Toyota PEAK Radiator Guarantee 13 16 Greg Biffle Jack Roush Matt Puccia 14 Ford ScotchBlue 14 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr John Henry Michael Kelley 14 Ford Ford EcoBoost 15 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Dave Rogers 14 Toyota M&M's 16 20 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Jason Ratcliff 14 Toyota Dollar General 17 22 Joey Logano Walter Czarnecki Todd Gordon 14 Ford Shell Pennzoil 18 23 Alex Bowman Ron Devine Dave Winston 14 Toyota Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry 19 24 Jeff Gordon Rick Hendrick Alan Gustafson 14 Chevrolet Drive To End Hunger 20 26 Cole Whitt Anthony Marlowe Randy Cox 14 Toyota Iowa City Capital Partner Toyota 21 27 Paul Menard Richard Childress Slugger Labbe 14 Chevrolet Richmond / Menards 22 31 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Luke Lambert 14 Chevrolet Caterpillar 23 32 Joey Gase(i) Frank Stoddard Jr Ben Leslie 14 Ford Zimmer 24 33 David Stremme Joe Falk Mike Hillman Jr 14 Chevrolet Little Joe's Autos 25 34 David Ragan Bob Jenkins Jay Guy 14 Ford Dockside 26 36 Reed Sorenson Allan Heinke Todd Parrott 14 Chevrolet TBA 27 37 Mike Bliss(i) Tommy Baldwin Tommy Baldwin 14 Chevrolet Accell Construction Inc. 28 38 David Gilliland Brad Jenkins Frank Kerr 14 Ford Love's Travel Stops 29 40 Landon Cassill(i) Michael Hillman Mark Hillman 14 Chevrolet Snap Fitness 30 41 Kurt Busch Gene Haas Daniel Knost 14 Chevrolet Haas Automation 31 42 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Chris Heroy 14 Chevrolet Target 32 43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Trent Owens 14 Ford Eckrich 33 47 A J Allmendinger Tad Geschickter Brian Burns 14 Chevrolet Kingsford Charcoal 34 48 Jimmie Johnson Jeff Gordon Chad Knaus 14 Chevrolet Lowe's 35 51 Justin Allgaier Harry Scott Jr Steve Addington 14 Chevrolet BRANDT Professional Agriculture 36 55 Brian Vickers Michael Waltrip Billy Scott 14 Toyota Aaron's/Samsung Partner of the Year 37 66 Joe Nemechek(i) Jay Robinson Scott Eggleston 14 Toyota Land Castle Title 38 78 Martin Truex Jr Barney Visser Todd Berrier 14 Chevrolet Furniture Row 39 83 Ryan Truex Ron Devine Joe Williams 14 Toyota Burger King Toyota Camry 40 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Rick Hendrick Steve Letarte 14 Chevrolet National Guard 41 95 Michael McDowell Bob Leavine Wally Rogers 14 Ford Thrivent Financial 42 98 Josh Wise Mike Curb Gene Nead 14 Chevrolet Phil Parsons Racing 43 99 Carl Edwards Jack Roush James Fennig 14 Ford Fastenal MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Driver-by-driver news and notes from the opening race of the Chase MORE: Full race results " Updated series standings " Chicagoland photos " Gallery of winners RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Editor's Note: Drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will appear in italics. 1. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford , Team Penske. The 2012 champion started 25th and had the lead by Lap 46. Keselowski had to come back to pit road for a loose wheel on Lap 186 that took him from second at the time to restarting in 16th. Crew chief Paul Wolfe told him, "I don't want to take a chance." It was a good thing they didn't. Keselowski worked his way back up through the field and went between Larson and Harvick to take the lead for good on Lap 252. The win automatically punches Keselowski's ticket into the Contender Round of 12 drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Watch how Keselowski got the lead 2. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. For the second straight week, Gordon finished as the runner-up to Keselowski. He led 26 laps on the afternoon and really never left the top 10. Gordon was the fastest car during green flags (176.271 mph) and fastest on restarts (176.701 mph). The four-time champion said afterwards "the whole team was extremely solid and that's a great way to get started." See Gordon's race highlights 3. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The rookie nearly played spoiler in the opening race of the Chase. He led 20 laps, the most he has led in a race in his Sprint Cup career. He had plenty of speed, with 17.2 percent of the fastest laps run (tied for the most), the third-fastest car on restarts at 175.847 mph and he did it all in a backup car after wrecking his main car in Saturday's practice session. After the race, the rookie lamented how close his was to earning his first Sprint Cup victory, telling ESPN, "Man, I was so close." See Larson's race highlights 4. Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford , Team Penske. Logano had his worst starting position since the July Daytona race, starting 28th, but he made up plenty of ground. He recorded 103 green flag passes (the fourth-highest total in the race) and was the best "closer" of the race. He picked up nine spots in the final 27 laps of the race for his fifth top-five finish in eight races, in which he has had an average finish of 5.3. Watch Logano's post-race interview 5. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick had to pit again after a Lap 68 stop for a wheel going down. He originally pitted in fifth and restarted in 21st. By Lap 151, he had the lead and held it for 79 laps, the most of anyone in the race. He had speed, but had a tough time holding off a hard charging Larson and then Keselowski. He had 16.7 percent of the fastest laps run in the race and earned his sixth top-10 finish in eight races. See Harvick's race highlights 6. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin expressed some early fears that he was having engine trouble, but that turned out to not be the case. In Darian Grubb's return to the pit box, Hamlin continued to carry the good mojo from his strong run with interim crew chief Michael Wheeler. Hamlin had 109 green flag passes (tied for the most in the race) and spent the third-least amount of time on pit road. For in-race pit road data, subscribe to RaceView today 7. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. "Rowdy" led 46 circuits and never left the top 15 all race long. He showed some speed, laying down the fastest lap of the race on Lap 2 at 185.096 mph. For a team that had struggled in a big way entering the Chase, this top 10 finish -- their first in seven races -- was a huge step for the No. 18 team. See Kyle Busch's race highlights 8. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Talk about an up-and-down day. "The Outlaw" spun entering pit road on Lap 46 and had to serve a pass-thru penalty for a commitment line violation, putting him in 30th place on Lap 60. How did he make up the ground? He tied for most green flag passes in the race with 109 and he closed strong, picking up seven spots in the final 27 laps of the race, despite some minor contact with his brother with 30 laps to go. See Kurt Busch's race highlights 9. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray continued his late season surge by leading 32 laps on the day and spending all but one lap in the top 15. He spent the least amount of time on pit road and earned his third top-10 finish in four races. For in-race pit road data, subscribe to RaceView today 10. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth recovered well after spinning out on his way onto pit road on Lap 148. Part of that recovery can be attributed to his pit crew, with Kenseth's team earning the fastest average time on pit road (from pulling in to leaving) at 35.267 seconds. 11. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Dale Jr. struggled in final practice but made some early gains in the race and spent significant time in the top five. Earnhardt had 50 quality passes on the afternoon, which was the fifth-most for the race. But just missing out on a top-10 finish left Junior a little disappointed, as he said over the radio, "I should have done a better job." See Dale Jr.'s race highlights 12. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. As he began his pursuit for title No. 7, Johnson spent much of the afternoon in the top 10 but dropped out late. He was the second-fastest car early in a run at 177.930 mph, according to loop data. However, he was just the 11th-fastest car late in a run. Perhaps that explains part of the dropoff. It was Johnson's first finish outside of the top 10 since Watkins Glen. 13. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Talk about being opportunistic. Kahne spent only 15.4 percent of the race running in the top 15, but those laps happened to fall in the latter part of the race. The result places him 11th in the standings. 14. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing. Truex earned his best finish since Watkins Glen, a stretch of five races. He did that in part by being one of the better "closers" in the race. According to loop data, Truex moved four spots in the final 27 laps of the race. 15. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman had two separate issues with tires during the races. The second of which -- a tire rub issue on Lap 155 -- led to Newman sternly saying over the radio, "find out why that tire started rubbing and make sure it doesn't happen again, please!" He was two laps down at one point and rallied for a top-15 finish. He is just outside the transfer spot to the Contender Round but can improve over the next two races to advance. For more in-car audio, subscribe to RaceView today 16. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. In his best result since Watkins Glen, Dillon registered the fourth-most quality passes of the afternoon with 51. He also spent 59.9 percent of the laps in the top 15 -- not bad for a rookie who looks to get better in the latter half of the season. 17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford , Roush Fenway Racing. The second-year Sprint Cup driver was credited with the most quality passes in the MyAFibStory.com 400 with 63. He had a little run-in with his girlfriend on the track, but managed to earn his sixth top-20 result in the past seven races. He had just seven top-20 finishes in the 20 races before that. 18. Tony Stewart, No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. It was a quiet day for "Smoke," who has put together back-to-back top-20 finishes. He ran well at Loudon in the summer and that one-mile track could be where Stewart gets his first win of 2014. He has three victories there in his Sprint Cup career. 19. Danica Patrick, No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Danica has now scored three straight top-20 finishes for the first time in her Sprint Cup Series career. However, there was a little dust up late when Stenhouse Jr., her boyfriend, made contact with her, bringing out a caution. See the contact between Danica and Ricky 20. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Ford , Roush Fenway Racing. Edwards showed plenty of speed in practices and looked to be one of the cars to contend with here. After starting third, he was out of the top 10 by Lap 60 and spent only 39.7 percent of the laps in the top 15. Edwards holds the final transfer spot in the standings, but his hold on that spot is anything but secure with two more races in the Challenger Round. 21. Paul Menard, No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. With his first top 10 starting spot since the August Michigan race, this was not the result Menard was hoping for. It was also the sixth straight race at Chicagoland where Menard finished in a worse position than where he started. 22. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger's first career Chase race did not go badly, but it could have gone better. The result leaves him in 14th place in the standings and in need of better results at Loudon and Dover, which are not exactly two of his strongest tracks. 23. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford , Roush Fenway Racing. It was a tough day for "The Biff," who never mounted a charge out of a mid-20s position. Over the radio, the Chase driver sounded frustrated, telling his crew on Lap 257 "that this thing goes from hauling (expletive) to junk." Biffle will need two solid finishes at Loudon and Dover to advance to the Contender Round of the Chase. For more colorful in-car audio, subscribe to RaceView 24. Brian Vickers, No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. Vickers has fared well at Chicagoland in the past with three top-finishes in his first five starts at the track, but this year's race continued a trend in the opposite direction. In the past two races at the venue, he has finished 38th and 24th, well below his average finish of 14.9 at the 1.5-mile track. 25. Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 Ford , Richard Petty Motorsports. Ambrose is leaving NASCAR after this season, but the Tasmania native is hoping to go out strong. This was his best finish since the August race at Michigan and he completed 67 green flag passes on the day. 26. Casey Mears, No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Mears scored his sixth top-30 finish in seven races, while also earning his best Chicagoland finish since 2009. 27. Justin Allgaier, No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. After making some gains in the late summer, Allgaier has dropped off a bit of late. He has finished no better than 26th in his last three races, after finishing inside the top 20 in three of the previous four races. 28. Landon Cassill, No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Racing. This was Cassill's first top-30 finish in three races and his best finish in a Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland. 29. Reed Sorenson, No. 36 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. For the ninth straight week, Sorenson finished in a better spot than where he started. In the past four weeks, Sorenson has bounced between finishing 24th, then 29th, then 24th and 29th. So should we expect a 24th-place finish at Loudon? 30. Cole Whitt, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing. It seemed like the rookie was heading for a really bad day with reports of engine trouble but Whitt was able to stay on the track to carry the flag for BK Racing for his fourth straight 30th-place finish. 31. David Ragan, No. 34 Ford , Front Row Motorsports. Ragan has had a knack over the past two months for finishing in a better spot than where he started. That continued this weekend as he started 39th, earning the ninth straight race of finishing in a better spot than where he started. 32. Michael McDowell, No. 95 Ford , Leavine Family Racing. The part-time driver finished exactly where he started but it was his best result in five starts at Chicagoland. 33. Josh Wise, No. 98 Chevrolet, Phil Parsons Racing. The past three races have seen Wise average a finish of 32.7. This finish at Chicagoland was the best of his career at the 1.5-mile track. 34. David Gilliland, No. 38 Ford , Front Row Motorsports. After six straight weeks of top-30 finishes, the veteran regressed with his result at Chicagoland. 35. Alex Bowman, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. For the 12th straight race, the rookie was running at the finish, although he was six laps down. He did, however, have 71 green flag passes on the afternoon. 36. Joe Nemechek, No. 66 Toyota, Jay Robinson Racing. Nemechek improved his position from start to finish for the second straight week. This result was his best since a 35th-place showing at Michigan nearly a month ago. 37. Joey Gase, No. 32 Ford , FAS Lane Racing. The Nationwide Series regular was making his Sprint Cup debut. The 37th-place showing was right around where this car has been all year. 38. Travis Kvapil, No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport. Kvapil finished 11 laps down for his worst finish at Chicagoland finish since 2008. 39. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. After the disappointment of not making the Chase following a strong run at Richmond, Bowyer found the wall a few times on the way to his second finish of 38th-or-worse in the past three races. Over the radio after the second time of hitting the wall, Bowyer's frustration was evident, "damn it, hit the (expletive) wall again." Another smack of the wall led to some significant right side damage and a trip to the garage. For more in-car audio, subscribe to RaceView 40. Michael Annett, No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. The rookie is trending the wrong way in recent weeks, as this was his fourth finish of 37th-of-worse in the past five races. 41. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Ford , Richard Petty Motorsports. A promising run for the Chase underdog was cut short by engine woes. He spent much of the day in the top 10 and led two laps before the disappointing end on Lap 231, at which he radioed in, "we blew up guys, push it back. Wasn't a tire, push it back." He has no margin for error now in the final two Challenger Round races. See how Almirola's day ended 42. Ryan Truex, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. An oil leak and a broken wheel bearing are never a good combination and the rookie paid the price for both. Truex finished in 42nd place for the second straight week, and it was his eighth DNF of the season. 43. Mike Bliss, No. 37 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Making his fifth start of the season, Bliss finished 254 laps down due to a vibration for his third last-place finish this season. 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Hendrick Motorsports struggles with engines issues and Greg Biffle captures his 1,000th win for Ford in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.