The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series thunders into Chicagoland Speedway for the American Ethanol E15 225, the final race before the chase begins next weekend in Chicago. 32 drivers will strive to compete for 32 spots in the Friday evening extravaganza in Joilet, Illinois. This is race 16 of 22 of the 2016 season.
Matt Tifft will return to action in NASCAR this weekend. Tifft had surgery in July to remove a non-cancerous tumor from his brain. He will drive the No. 32 Red Horse Racing Brain Gear/Surface Sunscreen Toyota. Kyle Busch will be performing triple duty this weekend racing in all three national series for NASCAR.
Chicagoland Speedway is located southwest of the city of Chicago.The track is a 1.5-mile, D-shaped oval. All the turns are banked at 18 degrees. They have a width of 55 feet, and an apron of 27 feet.
This will be the eighth trip to Chicagoland for the Camping World Truck Series. There have been five different pole winners with Jeb Burton being the youngest and Todd Bodine as the oldest. There have been four different race winners with John Hunter Nemechek as the youngest and Kyle Busch as the oldest. No races have been won from the pole position. Kyle Busch holds the race record set back in 2014 with a speed of 142.882 mph. Steve Arpin set the qualifying record in 2011 with a speed of 175.507 mph.
William Byron will be the top seed in the chase for the Trucks with five wins. Matt Crafton and John Hunter Nemechek currently hold the second and third seeds with two wins. Johnny Sauter, Ben Kennedy, and Christopher Bell hold the next three seeds with one win in 2016. Daniel Hemric and Timothy Peters currently hold the final two positions in the chase. However, Cole Custer and Cameron Hayley are virtually locked in the chase based on points, but a new winner would bump one of them out at the end of the day.
According to weekly press releases, drivers are excited about heading into Chicagoland and the chase.
"The closer we get to New Hampshire the more excited I get for the Chase. The 33 team is in a really good place and overall GMS Racing is in a good place. At the end of the day when you look at the results you will see at least one GMS truck in the top 5 or top 10 and typically there are two running up front each race. We're strong as a whole and I think you'll see that more once we get down to those final seven races,” stated Ben Kennedy, driver of the No. 33 GMS Racing Chevy.
"Based on our success on the intermediate race tracks, I feel really confident that we can have a good run this weekend. I'm just really happy to get back to some normality in the schedule when it comes to the race tracks being more like the ones in the Chase. I think this will be a really important tune up for places like Las Vegas and Texas in a few weeks. There is just something about these type of race tracks that works with Rudy and my driving style, so we are both eager to unload at Chicago,” said William Byron, driver of the No. 9 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.
"I don't have a whole lot of experience at Chicagoland Speedway, since we had an issue so early in the race last year, but I do know it's a track that a lot of drivers look forward to going to. Chicagoland offers such a wide racing surface to work with, that as drivers, we can constantly be searching for grip during the race. It makes you feel like you have a little more in your control as to how your day turns out. Everyone on our Draw-Tite Ford F-150 team is focused on running well and locking down a spot in the Chase this weekend,” said Hemric, driver of the No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford.
The trucks had two practice session on Thursday. In the first practice session, John Wes Townley was fastest with a speed of 175.182 mph followed by Byron at a speed of 174.910 mph, Crafton was third at a speed of 173.779 mph, Peters was fourth at a speed of 173.673 mph, and Custer rounded out the top-five with a speed of 173.633 mph. In the second practice session, Hemric was fastest with a speed of 176.563 mph, Spencer Gallagher was second with a speed of 176.465 mph, Daniel Suarez was third fastest at 176.453 mph, Grant Enfinger was fourth at 176.223 mph, and Kennedy rounded out the top five with a speed of 176.171 mph.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will qualify Friday afternoon at 4:30PM EST on Fox Sports 1. The American Ethanol E15 225 will be on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network beginning at 8:00PM EST.