JOLIET, Ill – Entering this weekend’s Camping World 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway, it was a preconceived notion that either a Joe Gibbs Racing car or Team Penske driver would reach victory lane on Sunday. Combined, they had won on all five 1.5-mile tracks run in the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Also, JGR had won the last four years in Chicago with Penske winning in 2014. The last time a non JGR/Penske driver won here?
2011 with Tony Stewart.
Furthermore, these two organizations had won 15 of the 16 races run in 2019, so why pick against them right?
Instead, they struggled all day. So did Stewart-Haas Racing too.
Kyle Busch entered a the defending race winner but got into the wall early on in Sunday’s rain delayed event and could never make up for it. Busch, finished 29th and ninth in the two stages but only finished 22nd. It was just Busch’s second finish outside of the top 10 all year as he had to pit late for a ton of smoke getting inside of his cockpit.
Denny Hamlin won Stage 1 but had his fair share of problems too. He had two pit road penalties and would finish 15th. It was his first finish outside of the top seven here since 2013 (33rd).
Erik Jones scored zero stage points in finishing 14th and 15th in them but did get a seventh place run in his No. 20 Toyota for his fifth top 10 result in the last seven races on the year.
Martin Truex Jr. finished sixth in both stages on Sunday and quietly came home eighth in his No. 19 Toyota. His last four finishes at Chicago now is first, first, fourth and eighth respectively.
It was a relatively quiet day for JGR.
Same for Stewart-Haas Racing. It was even worse for them. Clint Bowyer had an early right rear tire go down on Lap 78 and never rebounded. He’d end up with a DNF in 37th. Daniel Suarez also had a tire problem and finished 24th. Aric Almirola was just 16th. The best was Kevin Harvick who led a race high 132 of 267 laps but got into the wall in Turn 2 on Lap 171 bringing out the final caution of the day. He’d rebound to finish 14th, but it was the best result of the race for SHR.
Last year, SHR had seven wins, 20 top fives and 38 top 10’s at this point of the season. This year, they have zero wins, 13 top fives and 34 top 10’s. They also led 1,566 laps at this point last year and only 624 this year counting Harvick’s domination on Sunday.
What about Penske? They started off slow but rallied to put all three cars in the top six in fact.
Ryan Blaney never had a good car as he finished 22nd and 21st respectively in both stages. He was a lap down in each too. He’d finish sixth though in his No. 12 Ford.
Brad Keselowski was second and 14th respectively in the two stages but rallied to a fifth place finish in the No. 2 Ford.
That leaves Joey Logano. He was the best among the group in his No. 22 Ford. Logano, finished third for his sixth straight top 10 finish in Chicagoland and seventh in the last eight years. He just can’t seem to find his way to a win.
Combined, JGR and Penske led seven laps on Sunday. They led 3,140 combined entering the race including having the top four drivers in season laps led and five of the top six.