400 at a glance.


WHERE: Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, IL

WHEN: TV Start 6:30 p.m. ET

BROADCAST: TNT, live on Sirius satellite radio, channel 128

THE LOWDOWN: This week's storylines will be a continuation of last week's as Silly Season continues in full force.  The shuttering of the No. 40 and Mark Martin returning to make a full-time run at the championship in 2009 are only the tip of the iceberg with Tony Stewart as one of the biggest puzzle pieces remaining. He's yet to win this season, but came tantalizingly close at New Hampshire; likewise Jeff Gordon has not yet won in 2008, but was one of the dominators at Daytona. At Chicagoland, those are the two most recent winners.


2007: Tony Stewart
2006: Jeff Gordon
2005: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2004: Tony Stewart
2003: Ryan Newman


With Busch's sixth victory of the season, he would lead the other Chase contenders by 40 points if the playoffs were to start now. His checkers or wreckers style of racing is paying huge dividends during the regular season, but fans of the other 11 drivers will take heart in the fact that he's strung more than three consecutive top-10s together only once in his career. Of course, that came this season from Texas through Dover and he won three of those seven races, so that glimmer of hope may be dimmed somewhat.

1. Kyle Busch
Last three years' average finish at Chicagoland: 10.0 in three starts

Busch's record at Chicagoland is like everywhere else these days: He can be great and finish third like he did in 2006, or simply good and finish in the top 15 like he did in 2005 and 2007.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Last three years' average finish at Chicagoland: 8.3 in three starts

Earnhardt backed up a Chicago victory in 2005 with a fifth in 2006 and then slipped to 19th. In his Hendrick Chevy, however, he finished among the top five in three of four "cookie-cutter" races this season.

3. Jeff Burton
Last three years' average finish at Chicagoland: 13.0 in three starts

Burton's streak of 23 consecutive top-15s came grinding to a halt on the frontstretch wall of Daytona, only 20 laps from the end of the race. He dodged several bullets earlier, but the last one got him.

4. Carl Edwards
Last three years' average finish at Chicagoland: 20.7 in three starts

Edwards hasn't been strong at Chicagoland during his career, but he's headed in the right direction. He finished 39th in 2005, 20th in 2006 and third last year. Better yet, he's won at Vegas and Texas in 2008.

5. Jimmie Johnson
Last three years' average finish at Chicagoland: 15.3 in three starts

Johnson won four of nine races on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks last season, but he abdicated his "cookie-cutter" throne this year with three sub-10th-place finishes in the first four races.

6. Jeff Gordon
Last three years' average finish at Chicagoland: 14.3 in three starts

The good news is that Gordon has run better in the last two weeks than he has all year. The rain at New Hampshire and a mistake of his own making at Daytona, however, robbed him of strong finishes.

7. Denny Hamlin
Last three years' average finish at Chicagoland: 15.5 in two starts

It's hard to know which Hamlin is going to show up this week. In four "cookie-cutter" races this year he's finished fifth at Texas, ninth at Vegas, 15th at Atlanta and 24th at Lowe's.

8. Kasey Kahne
Last three years' average finish at Chicagoland: 32.0 in three starts

Kahne continued to run strong on the restrictor-plate superspeedways with a seventh last week, but his true test will come at Chicagoland, where he's never finished better than 23rd.

9. Matt Kenseth
Last three years' average finish at Chicagoland: 8.7 in three starts

If not for what he thought was a retaliatory bump from Jeff Gordon in 2006, Kenseth would have a three-race streak of Chicagoland top-fives. His other two results—in 2005 and 2007—were seconds.

10. Clint Bowyer
Last three years' average finish at Chicagoland: 9.5 in two starts

Bowyer is not known as a plate track racer, but with back-to-back ninth-place finishes at Talladega and Daytona this year, he's cleared two major hurdles on his way to the Chase.

11. Greg Biffle
Last three years' average finish at Chicagoland: 11.0 in three starts

Biffle has certainly been consistent at Chicagoland: His first two starts ended in 20th-place finishes; his last three have all been exactly 11th. Either of those results will be better than his 43rd at Daytona.

12. Tony Stewart
Last three years' average finish at Chicagoland: 12.7 in three starts

Last week, Kevin Harvick was the lone driver to drop out of the top 12 in points, but it could just have easily been Stewart without the relief help of J.J. Yeley. That tandem finished 20th in a messy plate race.

Laps in the top 10
"Cookie-cutter" courses *
Last three years

Driver    Top 10 laps    Possible Laps
Jimmie Johnson     6,142    8,525
Tony Stewart     5,261    8,525
Matt Kenseth     5,226    8,525
Dale Earnhardt Jr.    5,097    8,525
Kyle Busch    4,886    8,525
Jeff Gordon     4,607    8,525
Jeff Burton     4,327    8,525
Carl Edwards     3,996    8,525
Greg Biffle     3,988    8,525
Mark Martin     3,941    8,525
Kasey Kahne     3,706    8,525
Denny Hamlin    3,230    8,258
Kurt Busch     3,173    8,525
Martin Truex Jr.    2,903    7,655
Kevin Harvick     2,648    8,525
Clint Bowyer    2,374    6,996
Casey Mears     1,775    8,525
Ryan Newman    1,656    8,525
Reed Sorenson    1,397    7,321
Scott Riggs    1,385    8,258
Brian Vickers     1,352    7,444
Elliott Sadler     1,31    8,525
Bobby Labonte     1,176    8,525
J.J. Yeley    1,039    6,596
Jamie McMurray     927    8,525
Dave Blaney     638    8,525
David Ragan    547    4,132
Sterling Marlin     499    6,386
Robby Gordon     478    7,599
Joe Nemechek     470    7,521
Juan Pablo Montoya    412    4,132
David Gilliland    276    5,397
Michael Waltrip     260    6,865
David Reutimann    189    3,140
Johnny Sauter    121    3,937
Sam Hornish Jr    57    1,331
Paul Menard    50    4,796
Travis Kvapil     39    5,399
Terry Labonte    17    3,407
A.J. Allmendinger    11    1,798
Regan Smith    8    1,331
Boris Said    4    267
Patrick Carpentier    0    1,331
Michael McDowell    0    739
Jon Wood    0    267

* the "cookie-cutter" races are Atlanta Motor Speedway, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway.

Driver Rating +
Chicagoland Speedway
Last three years

Rank    Driver    Average Driver Rating
1    Matt Kenseth    126.2
2    Kevin Harvick    114.6
3    Tony Stewart    112.2
4    Jimmie Johnson    107.2
5    Kyle Busch    105.0
6    Brian Vickers    103.7
7    Dale Earnhardt Jr.    102.3
8    Reed Sorenson    96.2
9    Greg Biffle    95.3
10    Kurt Busch    93.0
11    Casey Mears    92.9
12    Jeff Gordon    91.8
13    Jeff Burton    89.0
14    Clint Bowyer    86.0
15    Denny Hamlin    83.8
16    Martin Truex Jr.    79.5
17    Mark Martin    78.3
18    Juan Pablo Montoya    78.1
19    Bobby Labonte    77.0
20    Carl Edwards    75.8
21    Ryan Newman    72.8
22    J.J. Yeley    71.4
23    John Andretti    69.2
24    Scott Riggs    65.9
25    Jeremy Mayfield    63.0

+ Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.

Fastest on restarts
(average speed of first two laps under green.)
Chicagoland last three years

Rank    Driver    Speed
1    Matt Kenseth    166.168
2    Kevin Harvick    165.755
3    Tony Stewart    165.731
4    Jimmie Johnson    164.955
5    Jeff Gordon    164.511
6    Kyle Busch    164.505
7    Clint Bowyer    164.434
8    David Reutimann    164.383
9    J.J. Yeley    164.367
10    Casey Mears    164.362
11    Jeff Burton    164.307
12    Martin Truex Jr.    164.160
13    Kurt Busch    164.086
14    Bobby Labonte    164.066
15    Greg Biffle    164.007
16    Dale Earnhardt Jr.    163.988
17    Reed Sorenson    163.765
18    Denny Hamlin    163.670
19    Brian Vickers    163.643
20    Juan Pablo Montoya    163.458
21    David Gilliland    163.312
22    Scott Riggs    163.237
23    Mark Martin    163.137
24    Ryan Newman    163.069
25    Travis Kvapil    163.057