NASCAR MENCS Chicago News & Notes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Tales of the Turtles 400
The Place: Chicagoland Speedway
The Date: Sunday, Sept. 17
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 2:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400.5 miles (267 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 80),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on lap 267)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Open At Chicagoland Speedway

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series kicks off its Playoffs with the Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN,, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Here's how the leaderboard sets up following the regular season finale at Richmond:
1. Martin Truex Jr. (leader)
2. Kyle Larson (20 points behind Truex)
3. Kyle Busch (-24)
4. Brad Keselowski (-34)
5. Jimmie Johnson (-36)
6. Kevin Harvick (-38)
7. Denny Hamlin (-40)
8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-43)
9. Ryan Blaney (-45)
10. Chase Elliott (-47)
11. Ryan Newman (-48)
12. Kurt Busch (-48)
13. Kasey Kahne (-48)
14. Austin Dillon (-48)
15. Matt Kenseth (-48)
16. Jamie McMurray (-50)

A win in the Playoffs automatically advances a driver to the next round and adds five points to his playoff points total. A stage win earns one playoff point to be added in the following round.

Past champions in the field include: Jimmie Johnson (2016, 2013, 2006-10), Kyle Busch (2015), Kevin Harvick (2014), Brad Keselowski (2012), Kurt Busch (2004) and Matt Kenseth (2003).

Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are taking part in their first Playoffs.

Truex Tries For Chicagoland Repeat

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series leader Martin Truex Jr. will try for his second straight win at Chicagoland Speedway in Sunday's Tales of the Turtles 400. The Furniture Row Racing driver led 32 laps on his way to the victory in 2016. Prior to last season, he never finished better than ninth at the 1.5-mile track.

Truex produced a dominant regular season and he'll look to carry his momentum into the Playoffs. He is tied with Kyle Larson for the series wins lead with four and the Toyota driver paces the series with 18 stage wins - seven more than the next-closest driver (Kyle Busch).

A loop data maven, Truex leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average running position (7.7), driver rating (114.3), fastest laps run (976, 16%) and laps led (1,646, 22.3%).

Keselowski Always A Threat At Chicagoland

Don't bet against Brad Keselowski at Chicagoland Speedway. In eight starts at the Illinois track, he has two wins, four top fives, six top 10s and a 9.6 average finish. His two victories are tied with Kevin Harvick's total for tops among active drivers.

Keselowski has struggled by his standards lately. He has not had a top-10 finish since placing fifth at Pocono on July 30.

He has been strong at intermediate tracks this season. In the three starts where he finished the race at 1.5-1.54-mile tracks, Keselowski has one win (Atlanta) and a 4.0 average finish.

Larson Enters Playoffs Coming Off Win

Kyle Larson speeds in to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs as the circuit's latest winner. He notched his series lead-tying fourth win at Richmond last Saturday night - his first career victory at a track shorter than two miles.
In addition to his four wins this season, Larson also boasts 11 top fives (tied with Brad Keselowski for first in the series), 15 top 10s and an 11.0 average finish (first in the series).
The #42 Chevrolet driver ranks third in average running position (9.4), driver rating (103.8), fastest laps run (53, 8.9%) and laps led (971, 18.2%).

Kurt Busch Picking Up Speed

Kurt Busch enters the playoffs running well. The 2004 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion has tallied three straight top-five finishes.

In 16 starts at Chicagoland, Busch claims two top fives, nine top 10s and a 15.4 average finish.

Busch won the opening race on his way to the title in 2004.

Harvick Hopes For Chicagoland Win

Kevin Harvick will go for his third career win at Chicagoland Speedway in Sunday's Playoff opener. A visit to Victory Lane would tie him with Tony Stewart for the most Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins at Chicagoland.

In addition to his two victories (2001,2002), Harvick has two wins, eight top fives, nine top 10s and a 12.2 average finish at the 1.5-mile track.

The #4 Ford driver placed fifth at Chicagoland when he won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2014.

Young Guns Take Aim At Chicago

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs give the sport's young guns a chance to build their legacies. Drivers under 30 racing for the championship include Kyle Larson (25 years old), Ryan Blaney (23), Chase Elliott (21), Austin Dillon (27) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (29).

Larson, Dillon and Elliott are making their second Playoff appearances, while Blaney and Stenhouse are competing in their first Playoffs.

In their Playoff debuts at Chicagoland last year, Elliott finished third, Dillon placed 14th and Larson came in 18th. Blaney finished fourth - highest among non-playoff drivers.

Johnson Sets Out On Drive For Record Eighth Championship

Never count out Jimmie Johnson come the Playoffs. The defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion sets out for a record eighth title in Sunday's postseason opener at Chicagoland Speedway. If Johnson takes home the crown again, he will surpass NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty on the all-time championships list.

Johnson has never won at Chicagoland, but he does boast seven top fives, 10 top 10s and a 9.5 average finish in 15 starts there.

The #48 Chevrolet driver has posted three wins this season, but currently has a career-worst average finish of 16.7.