Five of the last six NASCAR Series Champions have won their race at Chicagoland Speedway, but what can you expect to see in 2013?
Three winners, three NASCAR Series Championships. If you’re looking to be crowned among the motorsports elite, Chicagoland Speedway is the place to start.
This past season, Brad Keselowski (Sprint Cup Series), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Nationwide Series) and James Buescher (Camping World Truck Series) all won their respective races at the 1.5-mile superspeedway just outside of Chicago en route to series championships.
They followed the blueprint laid out in 2011 by Tony Stewart (Sprint Cup Series) and Austin Dillon (Camping World Truck Series), who also emerged at the top of their respective classes after wins at the Speedway. Since it began hosting the first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup two years ago, five out of a possible six series champions to have a notched a win at Chicagoland Speedway went on to win NASCAR championships, proving if you win at Chicagoland Speedway, you have a great shot at winning it all.
In 2012, it started with an incredible come-from-behind win for James Buescher. Buescher, whose team had to replace a carburetor mid-race, came from two laps down to hold off Brendan Gaughan in a green-white-checkered finish for his third win of the season. Buescher entered Chicagoland fifth in the point standings, trailing Timothy Peters by 40. He would go on to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, holding off Peters by six points.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. arrived at Chicagoland Speedway in September for the Dollar General 300 Powered by Coca-Cola coming off a second place finish in July’s STP 300. Stenhouse led 135 laps in July after starting from the pole, but fell short of victory lane. The No. 6 team came out determined to win in September and overcame a pit road mishap en route to doing so. Stenhouse Jr. only led 22 of the 200 laps, but felt great about the win which gave Roush Fenway Racing its first win at Chicagoland Speedway. The victory catapulted him past Elliott Sadler for a nine-point lead in the standings. Stenhouse Jr. went on to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series title, giving him the crown in back-to-back seasons.
In September, Brad Keselowski kicked off the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a bang, upsetting prohibitive Chase favorite, Jimmie Johnson. Keselowski led the final 38 laps of the race, outdueling the five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion who finished second. Keselowski took the lead during the final round of green-flag pit stops, pitting with 38 laps to go. He made the stop one lap later than Johnson, and raced back onto the track just ahead of the No. 48 car, setting up the victory.
At 28, Keselowski went on to win the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by 39 points over Clint Bowyer, becoming the eighth youngest Sprint Cup champion in NASCAR history.
In 2013, NASCAR’s stars will attempt to achieve similar championship results in the new Gen-6 car. The newly redesigned car puts the “stock back into the stock car” and will closely resemble the models seen on show room floors. Additionally, the Gen-6 was designed to be less dependent on aerodynamic packages, which figures to provide even better, more exciting racing at Chicagoland Speedway.
Thus far NASCAR drivers have had positive reviews, including Jeff Gordon.
"As a driver, I like it better," Gordon said to ESPN.com. "I think it's better racing. And you're going to have to drive the cars, be careful putting yourself in certain positions. Cars are going to have to handle a little better than they have in the past. Those are all very positive things."
Don’t miss out on your chance to see the new Gen-6 car and potential future champions at Chicagoland Speedway in 2013; it’s going to be another great year at the track!