In the Sprint Cup Series, the Chase for the Cup gets underway this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. For the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, the road to the championship follows the Cup Series through Joliet, Illinois this weekend, with the Truck Series racing Friday night and the Nationwide Series on-track on Saturday.
In Friday’s EnjoyIllinois.com 225, Kyle Busch Motorsports owner/driver Kyle Busch gets back behind the wheel of the No. 51 Toyota Tundra, with a familiar sponsor back in the fold for one race – Dollar General. Busch has two Truck Series win at Chicagoland in just three starts, and with three victories this season, leads the Truck Series in wins.
“We’re looking forward to having the familiar black and yellow paint scheme on our Tundra this weekend at Chicago - although I have to admit after having it on the 18 truck the last three years, it was a little different as I walked through the shop on Monday seeing the No. 51 on the side of it,” said Busch on the KBM website. “Dollar General has been a great partner over the years and they were the sponsor when we won our very first race at KBM in the Truck Series race at Nashville 2010. We’ve been able to celebrate a few victories together over the years, whether it was when I was running in the Nationwide Series for Braun Racing or here in the Truck Series at KBM. This is just a one-race deal, so we just have one shot to get them back to victory lane this year and keep the streak alive - either with me behind the wheel or as an owner, we’ve been to victory lane together for five straight years. We’ve been pretty strong this year on the intermediate tracks - got a victory at Charlotte, were close at Michigan and had a fast Tundra at Kansas before we got wrecked, so I feel like we’ll be competitive again on Friday night.”
Joey Coulter, in the No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra at Chicagoland, is hoping for a reversal of fortune at the 1.5-mile track this weekend. The KBM flagship team’s luck has been anything but good in the last two races, with finishes of 26th and 25th at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Iowa Speedway, respectively. In two previous starts at Chicagoland, Coulter has finishes of 12th and 15th.
“I like Chicago a lot - it’s a fun race track - I just haven’t had the luck there that we have needed,” said Coulter. “We led a bunch of laps there last year and got in a late-race wreck which took us out of contention for a good finish. The year before was the same thing - we ran really well and something out of our control took us out. So, just not a lot of luck there, but I do really enjoy the race track. The track surface has a few years on it, but it’s still fairly new, and still has pretty good grip - it’s been a lot of fun to race on in the past and I’m looking forward to getting back on track this weekend.”
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the No. 54 ToyotaCare Tundra for KBM this Friday, has been the hottest rookie on the track for the last two races, with fourth- and fifth-place finishes at CTMP and Iowa, respectively. Wallace Jr. will make his first start at Chicagoland on Friday.
“We have ToyotaCare back on the truck this week for Chicago and looking for another good outing to keep our top-five streak alive and hopefully get us a win,” said Wallace Jr. “I’m feeling good about this weekend, but it’s a track that I’ve never been too. I think it’s another track where you can go out and hold it wide open and see what we got. We are taking the same truck we ran at Charlotte, Pocono and Kentucky with a set up similar to Kentucky. We’ll take it out there and see what we can do.”
The Nationwide Series will run the Dollar General 300 Powered by Coca Cola on Saturday afternoon, and another young KBM driver will be trying to right his Toyota ship in that race. KBM driver Parker Kligerman, in the No. 77 Bandit Chippers Toyota Camry at Chicagoland, survived the first 22 races of the season without a DNF – he now has two in the last three races. Heading to the Windy City could be just what the racing doctor ordered for Kligerman, who has five previous starts at the track between Nationwide and Truck Series competition. All three of his Nationwide Series starts at Chicagoland have ended in 13th-place or better finishes – including a sixth-place finish in July – and he has two top five finishes in the Truck Series.
“Chicagoland is one of the tracks that I’ve had a really good record at - both in Truck and the Nationwide Series,” said Kligerman. “We had a good run there in July with this No. 77 team. With it being another day race - although the temperatures are going to be a lot different - I think that we can carry over a lot of what we learned into this race. We’ve got Bandit Chippers back onboard this week and we’ve had some of our strongest runs this season when they are the primary sponsor. Hopefully, we can improve upon our run in July and go out and have a solid top-five day. That would be good for this whole race team - we need to get back on track and Chicagoland is definitely a place where we can get it done.”
Qualifying for the EnjoyIllinois.com 225 takes place Friday at 3:05 p.m. CT, with the race to follow at 7:30 p.m. CT. Qualifying for the Dollar General 300 Powered by Coca Cola takes place Saturday at 11:05 a.m. CT, with the race going green at 2:30 p.m. CT. Keep up with the action this weekend at www.nascar.com and www.kylebuschmotorsports.com.
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