Motorsports: Chicagoland Speedway

Kyle Busch striving for spot in Chase

July, 20, 2012
CHICAGO -- Kyle Busch said Friday he’s optimistic he can bounce back from his recent struggles and finish the regular season strong enough to secure himself a spot in the Chase.

Busch has had one top-10 finish in the last seven weeks and has fallen to No. 13 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings. He is in second place in the wildcard standings with one victory and would fill the final Chase position if the season were to end today.

[+] EnlargeKyle Busch
Kevin Liles/US PresswireKyle Busch has seven races to earn his spot in the Chase.
Busch will race for his own team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, in the Nationwide Series at the Chicagoland Speedway this weekend and will return to the Sprint Cup Series and the Joe Gibbs Racing team next week to compete in the Brickyard 400.

“I’m not sure at all [I’ll qualify for the Chase,]” said Busch in Chicago on Friday. “All we can do is work as hard as we know how to do and get ourselves capable of finishing up front and winning a couple races before its starts.

“If you win one, you think you’re going to be okay. If you win two, you’re locked in. For us, we’ve got good tracks coming up. I think of the seven race tracks, we’ve won at six of them. It bodes well for us.”

Busch has actually won at five of the remaining seven Sprint Cup tracks. He has won four times at Richmond International Raceway, once at Atlanta Motor Speedway, five times at Bristol Motor Speedway, once at Michigan International Speedway and once at Watkins Glen International. He has not won at Pocono Raceway or Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Busch was among the hottest drivers heading into June with seven top-10 finishes and a victory under his belt. Since then, he’s had finishes of 29th, 30th, 32nd, 17th, 10th, 24th and 16th place.

“We’re not comfortable at all,” Busch said of where he stood in the standings. “This Chase format is certainly stressful if you’re back in the points as we are.

“We had a slow start to the year and then we got going. We won at Richmond and then we had five top 5s in a row and were up to eighth in points and just about ready to make a pounce for fifth in points and then bad luck struck, and we haven’t been able to shake it yet.”

If Busch can qualify for the Chase, he believes he’ll be more energized for it than in years past after he deciding to cut down on his race schedule this year.

“Definitely not as fatigued this year, that’s probably the main point,” Busch said. “I say some weekends I’m a little bored not having as much running around doing back and forth between the garage areas.

“I do miss it. I would love to be out there on the racetrack running and getting as much knowledge for the weekend and what have you. If we make the Chase, it’ll certainly feel a little bit different just being more relaxed and not being so wore out come Chase time.”

One other incentive for Busch to quality for the Chase is a fan event called NASCAR Contenders Live, which Busch helped unveil in Chicago on Friday. Fans can win a chance to interact with all 12 Chase contenders at the House of Blues in Chicago on Sept. 12 prior to the Chase’s first race, the Geico 400 on Sept. 14. Fans can find more info at

Busch expected the Contenders Live session to stir up the pot between all 12 drivers.

“There will be some trash-talking,” Busch said. “There is always when you get all 12 of us together, especially some of the characters in the top 12. They’re good at that stuff.”

"Idiot" Stewart? Big win means no

September, 19, 2011
JOLIET, Ill. -- Tony Stewart is a bumbling idiot.

It had to be said, even if it is a bit premature -- and in jest.

But the two-time Sprint Cup champion said on Thursday that five of the 12 Chase drivers didn't have a chance to win the championship, putting himself at the top of the non-factors because of the way he ran in the regular season. He said if he wins the title then "I'll declare I'm a total bumbling idiot."

What Stewart is -- after Monday's victory at Chicagoland Speedway -- is a championship contender.

The only thing that could have made him a "bumbling idiot" was to run out of fuel on the final lap as several title contenders did, as Stewart did in the Chase opener a year ago at New Hampshire when he had the checkered flag in sight.

Instead, Stewart goes to Sunday's race at New Hampshire (2 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN) with only a seven-point deficit to Kevin Harvick.

Read the entire story.

Postponing race the right call

September, 18, 2011
JOLIET, Ill. -- Chad Knaus stood behind the NASCAR hauler at about 7:40 p.m. ET on Sunday, a steady rain pouring behind him just outside door cover that kept him dry, and said, "Are we done yet?"

It would be about 30 minutes later when the governing body finally postponed the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway to noon ET (ESPN and WatchESPN) on Monday because of rain.

But the frustration already had set in for Knaus, the crew chief for five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson.

It was a frustrating day for a lot of people.

It was frustrating for crew chiefs and crew members who had been in the garage since it opened at 7 a.m. It was frustrating for drivers who instead of beginning their run for the title spent the day cramped up in motorcoaches watching NFL games and movies.

It was a frustrating day for fans who sat rain-soaked in the stands hoping that the race eventually would begin, and for those at home waiting for it to begin on television.

"Just a pain in the ass on everybody," Chase newcomer Brad Keselowski said.

It was.

NASCAR did all it could to get the race in and keep teams from spending money on another day of travel. But in the end, postponing the race, the first time that has happened since the Chase began in 2004, was the right thing to do.

Read the entire story.

Kenseth opens Chase on front row

September, 17, 2011
JOLIET, Ill. -- Matt Kenseth will open the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship on the pole at Chicagoland Speedway.

Read the entire story.

Here's what to watch for when the Chase for the Cup kicks off Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.

Video: Jeff Gordon lurking

September, 15, 2011

It's been a while since Jeff Gordon last won the Cup Series, but he's ready to claim his fifth championship in 2011.

Jimmie Johnson a marked man in Chase

September, 15, 2011

Alfred, Lord Tennyson might assess Jimmie Johnson's predicament at the outset of this Chase this way: cannon to the right of him, cannon to the left of him, cannon in front of him.

There's Kevin Harvick, living up mightily to team owner Richard Childress's projection, back in January, that "This is the year to kick Jimmie off that throne. We were close with Kevin last year, but this is the year to do it ... "

There's Kyle Busch, having grown up and settled down after several seasons of maturing in fits and starts, seeded first alongside Harvick. They have four wins each.

Most of all there is Johnson's teammate and mentor, seeded third, running well, feeling "rejuvenated" -- uh-oh, Jeff Gordon won four championships when he was young, under the old season-long points system, and he enters this Chase looking stronger, and certainly more enthusiastic, than he ever has for the playoffs.

Read the entire story.

Chase in Chicago takes backseat to Bears

September, 15, 2011
CHICAGO -- First, I'm not a huge fan of Chicagoland Speedway hosting the first race of the Chase, which NASCAR already has said will happen again next season, too.

The third-largest media market in the country is too wrapped up in the Chicago Bears to get NASCAR on the front page of the local paper.

Imagine if the Cubs or White Sox were contenders.

Well, it could happen.

I'd rather see the Chase begin somewhere like Darlington or Bristol. They're smaller markets -- OK, tiny compared to Chicago -- but they would embrace the sport, and the style of racing at those tracks is more likely to create drama that captures the imagination.

Read the entire blog.

Nicole Briscoe and Rusty Wallace of NASCAR Now talk about why Carl Edwards' chase for the Cup could get off to a good start this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

Bears did their part, now on to the Chase

September, 14, 2011
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Justin Edmonds/Getty ImagesDrivers pose after clinching spots for the Chase to the Sprint Cup.
This is it. It's here. The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Chicagoland Speedway is set to kick off this weekend -- Sept 16-18.

I have been through ups and downs the past few months in my journey to the Chase, but had one goal -- to make it to the Chase here in Chicago. I couldn't tell you how excited I am to finally be in the city I love after a solid fifth-place finish at Richmond this past Saturday.

I flew directly into Chicago and immediately soaked up everything that I've been talking about for the past few weeks. But first ... did you see that Bears game on Sunday? DA BEARS! What a way to come back into the city with a big “W” from the Monsters of the Midway. If Sunday's game is any indication of the rest of the season, this is going to be one hell of a year for Chicago football.

On Tuesday I had the honor of visiting Children's Memorial Hospital with Chicagoland Speedway and Bear Necessities. It was so inspiring to see how brave these children and their families are as they battle these illnesses. We went there with the intentions of brightening their days -- even if for just a short period of time -- but I walked away feeling as though they had brightened my day. I can't think of better way to kick off this Chase weekend. Immediately following our visit with the kids at Children's Memorial Hospital I headed to Navy Pier where ESPN's NASCAR Now is set up and broadcasted live each day until Thursday.

Thursday, I got to spend the day golfing with the great people from SOPUS and Shell Oil Products out in Sugar Grove for the SOPUS Open Golf Tournament. We really couldn't ask for a better day to get out there and soak up the sun and truly enjoy the breeze.

Friday is practice at Chicagoland Speedway. The Chase is severely competitive and there is nothing I want more than to clinch the first Chase race victory, especially at Chicagoland Speedway in the GEICO 400.

Qualifying will be held early Saturday afternoon thankfully so I still have time to catch the Notre Dame game later that day. I am so excited to go to Notre Dame and visit the campus, it's absolutely beautiful. Clear skies and college football are the perfect combination!

Sunday of course is the big race -- it's make it or break it time. Our team has been pretty solid this year in proving that we have what it takes to win. The No. 22 Penske Dodge is one of the best cars on the track and it's time to prove it.

Monday will be a great day to hopefully bask in some glory -- from either the GEICO 400 or from the Cubs. I am a huge Cubs fan and am stoked to head to the game Monday afternoon and enjoy the rooftops at Wrigley with my friends and family here in Chicago.

Well my friends, it has been great. I loved sharing my thoughts, opinions and views with you on Chicago sports and a little more on what being a NASCAR driver is about.

If you'd want to stay connected, feel free follow me on Twitter at @KurtBusch22


Video: Kyle Busch on the Chase

September, 14, 2011

Kyle Busch is hoping for a much better result than the last time he was the No. 1 Chase seed in 2008.

Rusty Wallace talks about next weekend's race at Chicagoland Speedway.

NASCAR Now comes to Navy Pier

September, 9, 2011