Good, Bad and Ugly: LifeLock.com 400
Mark Garrow provides driver trends for Saturday's LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
* A driver needs to qualify for the race based on time.
# A driver is eligible for the champion's provisional.
• Allmendinger must qualify on time. He is top-25 material at best.
• Biffle finished 11th the past three years at Chicago. • He is running the same car he drove to a runner-up finish at the Coke 600. • I expect Biffle to make a little bit of a comeback after a rocky road the past five weeks. I see the Roush cars all being pretty strong and Biffle finishing in the top 10.
• Blaney is driving the same car he drove to ninth-place finishes at both Dover and Darlington. • Blaney has scored three top-17 finishes at Chicago and has only qualified outside the top 15 twice. • Just when things were looking up for Blaney, he slid back into the pack with junk finishes in the past six races. He could be of possible interest this weekend, but qualifying and practice need to get done before you decide on what to think of Blaney. I'm getting a bad vibe on this team right now.
• In two Sprint Cup starts here, Bowyer has a pair of top-10 finishes. • I've got Bowyer ranked 16th this week because of recent inconsistency. But I do expect him to make a little noise this weekend. I can picture him finishing from ninth to 16th.
? This is the same car Burton raced to a 15th-place finish at Michigan. • In seven starts at Chicago, Burton boasts one top-5 and three top-10s. • Going in I've ranked Burton eighth. He hasn't done much the past four races, but has been pretty racy the past two times at Chicago. I see this has a good turnaround track for Burton and a top-10 is probably in the offing.
• The car debuted at Darlington in May, where it finished 12th and came home eighth at Pocono. • Kurt finished sixth here last year and has been making a little noise lately. His Roger Penske team may have turned the corner. I've ranked him 13th because I'm not a true believer yet. That said, I can see Busch finishing as high as sixth and as low as 13th.
• Kyle is the series lap leader with a total of 900 laps led. That is 16.59 percent of the 5,425 laps raced this season. • I see this track right in Kyle's wheelhouse and why I rank him second. He can win or finish in the top five. The past two 1.5-mile speedway races, Busch has finished third and he should come up big again.
• Carpentier will be driving a new car and making his first appearance at Chicagoland. If he makes the race, I see maybe a top-30 and that's about it.
• In seven Sprint Cup Series starts here, Earnhardt has recorded one win, two top-5s and three top-10s. • This is the same chassis Earnhardt drove to the win at Michigan last month. • I don't see Junior setting the world on fire, but I do see a solid top-10 performance and I rank him ninth. He might finish as high as the fifth-place run he had at Charlotte.
• In his previous three Chicagoland starts, Edwards has one top-5. • Edwards leads all drivers in top-10s, having scored 13. Edwards has top-10s in 11 of the past 13 races. • He's in the same car he drove to a runner-up finish at Darlington this year and won with at Fontana. • I think Edwards has a great chance to win have him ranked as my top guy going into Saturday night's race.
• Elliott has two top-10s in five starts here with an average finish of 18.2. • Finished this race in 28th-place last season.
• Gilliland has an average finish of 16.0 at Chicago • At a Stock Car Challenge price of 17.0, Gilliland might be interesting this week if he can match his 16th place finish of a year ago. We'll be keeping a close eye on him especially for our race day chat Saturday afternoon.
• Gordon has one win, four top-5s and five top-10s in seven Chicago starts. His average finish is 10.0 and he finished ninth here last year. • I can see Gordon finishing in the top 10 this week, but this team has been so hit or miss on tracks like this I've got him ranked 15th. Obviously, any time he takes the green the potential is there for a win, a top-5 or a top-10, but his inconsistency concerns me. I'll be looking hard at practice and qualifying because of the always present potential.
• Gordon has seven starts here with two top-10s and an average finish of 22.4 He finished 36th last year.
• This will be Hamlin's third start here, finishing 17th and 14th here in the past. • Hamlin drove this car to a third-place finish at Pocono in June and a seventh-place finish at Darlington. • Hamlin is my fifth-ranked driver this week, which means I'm pretty confident he has a chance to win at least. His inconsistency since the third-place finish at Pocono last month concerns me, but I can see the same type of performance this weekend he had at Texas earlier this year.
• In seven Chicago races, Harvick has earned four top-5s and five top-10s, including victories in the first two races. He has averaged an eighth-place finish. • Harvick has great stats at this place, but hasn't had a top-10 finish in the past eight starts this year and why I have him ranked 14th instead of in my top-10. For whatever reason, when this team gets into a slump it's very hard for them to get out of it. I'll wait for that to happen unless he looks super-fast in the final practice.
• This will be first Cup start at Chicagoland, but he has a total of seven IndyCar Series starts. From 2001 through 2007, Hornish scored two wins, two poles, six top-5s and seven top-10s.
• Clearly Hornish has a comfort level here because of all his Indy starts but 29th is his best finish in the past three 2008 starts, so I don't expect much.
• Johnson has six Chicago races, finishing in the top-six at each event until last season when a flat tire relegated him to a 37th-place result. • He finished sixth in this car at Michigan. • I've ranked Johnson sixth this week, with potential for a top-5 and probably a lock for a top-10.
• Kahne has an average finish of 33rd at Chicagoland, never finishing better than 23rd. • Five of Kahne's nine career wins have come on intermediate-style tracks. • This week I believe we can throw out Kahne's past Chicagoland performances and put them in the trash can. I predict a best finish ever at the track with Kahne winding up somewhere in the top 10. I think his performance at Charlotte will translate well here.
• In seven starts, Kenseth has posted two top-5s and three top-10s. He has only finished outside of the top 15 once. • Kenseth's car was raced at California, Texas and Charlotte this year and has not finished outside of the top 10.
• Kvapil has an average finish of 40.0 at Chicago • He's driving the same chassis the team ran at Dover and finished 11th. • Kvapil might be able to sneak a top-20, or top-15 finish, but at 18.9 in SCC, he is still overvalued. With Mark Martin .7 below him how do you pick Kvapil?
• In seven starts here, Labonte has an average finish of 22.3 and finished 20th last year. • Labonte has been a top-15 car the past two races and could possibly do that again at Chicagoland. At 17.9 Labonte has a pretty attractive SCC price especially if he can match 11th place finish at Charlotte.
• Labonte has six starts here with a top-10 and an average finish of 24.0, finishing 43rd in his last appearance in 2006.
• Martin finished sixth in the inaugural race at Chicagoland in 2001 and 14th there last season. His average finish is 13.6 and he's led four of seven Chicagoland races. • I've got Martin ranked 11th and feel he's almost a lock for a top-10 at a still nice SCC price of 18.2.
• McDowell is making his first-ever NASCAR start at Chicago this weekend. He has an average finish this year of 30.8.
• In five starts at Chicagoland, McMurray has produced one top-10 with an average finish of 24.0. • He's in the same car he drove to a 23rd-place finish at Charlotte. • I think he's got a shot at a top-15 and have him ranked 18th going in. The Roush cars will be fairly competitive this weekend.
• In five starts at Chicagoland, Mears has earned one top-5 and two top-10s. • Mears led five laps last year before finishing fifth -- his career-best result at the track. Mears was the highest HMS finisher that day. • I can see Mears being a driver who will arouse a lot of curiosity this weekend. He had a strong run last year, but was still rolling after winning his first career Cup race at Charlotte. His confidence level is not nearly the same this year.
• This car was last raced at Michigan, where Menard turned in a season best 11th-place finish. • He's coming off a 15th-place run at Daytona but finished 42nd here last year. With 16.5 SCC value we'll have to keep a close eye on him during our garage "walk", but I think a top-25 is where you pencil him in and then hope for better.
• Montoya will be making his second start at Chicagoland. He finished 15th in last year's race. • With a SCC value of 17.7, he's very attractive if you thought he could match last year's result. I don't think he can.
• In seven starts here, Nemechek has one top-10 with an average finish of 25.1.
• Ryan Newman has one win, two top-5s and three top-10s in six Chicago starts. • Newman will be in a new car this week so that's a little bit of a question mark. I can see him finishing somewhere in the middle of his fourth place run at Texas and 21st at Charlotte, which is why I've got him ranked 12th. He should be solid, but not spectacular.
• He finished 25th in 2007 in his first Cup start at Chicagoland. • Another guy in a new car for this race. His SCC value of 19.5 is a little high, but this track should be good for maybe a top-15 and potential top-10 for him. I have him ranked 17th, which is a little conservative. I like the fact he finished fifth at Darlington, another big, fast track where you have to be careful making your passes.
• Reutimann has one start here, finishing 43rd here last year. • I think Reutimann and this team have stepped up and have become a group that is a top-20 car. If he can run in the top 20 with a SCC value at 15.3 he could be very beneficial this weekend. You can be sure we are going to try and stay on top of his progress this weekend.
• Riggs has three starts here with an average finish of 22.3
• In seven starts he has recorded one top-10. • His 16.3 SCC value and eighth-place finish at Charlotte is going to give Mr. Sadler some attention this week. He is still all over the place and has not found the fix to a steady flow of top-15, top-10 finishes. With bargain value, we'll focus on him for race-day chat.
• He has two starts here with finishes of 35th and 22nd.
• Smith is making his first-ever Cup Series start here this weekend. He has three Nationwide Series starts with an average finish of 31.3. • A top-25 is about the best you can hope for here.
• Sorenson will be making his third start at Chicagoland this weekend. In 2006, Sorenson scored his best finish of seventh place there. He finished 12th last year. • Sorenson will be making his second start with this car. Sorenson previously drove it at Charlotte and Montoya drove it to a 15th-place finish at Bristol. • Sorenson could turn out to be a great budget pick this year with a SCC value of 14.7. Only two top-10s for the year is a concern, but he likes this track a lot and we'll keep an eye for him in the final practice and in the garage race-day afternoon.
• Stewart has seven starts here with five top-5s and two wins with an average finish of 11.0. He is the defending winner of this race. • I rank Stewart fourth and with price of 21.7, his potential for a top-5 makes him attractive. Weird stuff keeps happening to this team and I think this week they might be able to shake some of the bad luck. Problem is, I thought that last week too.
• Truex has two starts here with an average finish of 27.5 • This is same car he drove to a 17th-place finish in Michigan. • Truex is truly ticked off his team lost him 150 points for rules violations at Daytona and he appears to want out of his deal at DEI. The team is off balance right now with only two top-10s in the past eight races. Combine that with a SCC value of 19.8 and I'm staying clear. This team has the potential for a top-10 just about every time out, I just don't see it this weekend.
• In three starts here, Vickers has an average finish of 10.3. • He hasn't been great lately, but is basically a top-15 car week in, week out now. Combine past efforts here and how much this team has improved this year and I could see a top-10 here this weekend.
• He has an average finish is 25th.
• Yeley has two starts here with finishes of 10th and 35th, respectively. • Has completed 95.5 percent of the total possible laps here.
Mark Garrow covers fantasy racing for ESPN.com.