After a controversial call made by NASCAR, Brad Kesoloweski held off 5-time Champ Jimmie Johnson to win Chase race #1 at Chicagoland Speedway yesterday.
Here are my winners and losers from the race!
After a hard-fought battle with Jimmie Johnson, Kesoloweski went on to win the GEICO 400. Winning the race did also bring up controversy. After Kesoloweski made his final green-flag pitstop, there was controversy over whether or not he pulled up onto the track too early to gain an advantage over Johnson. Regardless of what happened, Kesoloweski was able to stay in front of Johnson and pulled away.
Kesoloweski was in the top-10 for the majority of the race and led 76 laps. As much of the Chasers struggled, Kesoloweski did not miss a beat and has now inherited the points lead for the first time in his career.
Despite losing the win over a controversial call on the final pit-stop, Jimmie Johnson dominated the majority of the race. Johnson took the lead on lap 4 and put a whooping on the entire field. He went on to lead 176 laps. This is the fourth race where Johnson would lead over 100 laps, but not score the victory. Regardless of the final pit-cycle controversy, Johnson sent a statement to the Chase field (despite not winning) that he is not going down without a fight.
I understand that 25th is something that almost no one gets excited about, but for a driver who is learning her way into the Sprint Cup Series, Danica Patrick had a pretty good day despite being two laps down.
Dale Earnhardt Jr
After switching engines after qualifying fourth, Dale Earnhardt Jr had a long battle to get back into the top-10. For the first part of the race, Earnhardt had a car that was capable of making it back to the top-5. He would ultimately fight both a tight and loose race car for the majority of the day. Despite that, he came back to finish 8th. Anytime you start from last and finish in the top-10, your confidence level has to be up.
After failing to make the Chase last weekend, Joey Logano decided to put it in high gear Sunday. Logano had a good handling race car all race long and was in the top-10 for the majority of it. He went on to finish 7th.
For a good chunk of the race, Jeff Gordon was in the top-10. He was having a promising day after barely making the Chase last weekend at Richmond. However, his once promising day took a turn for the worst as Gordon would end up hitting the wall hard on Lap 188. Gordon came back out only for a few laps before the end of the race. Because of the crash, Gordon is now a full race behind (in terms of points) and has alot of ground to make up. At this race, Gordon needs to win 2 races to right the wrong after this race.
After a strong regular-season that included Greg Biffle winning the regular season, Roush-Fenway Racing appeared to be a dominant force for the Sprint Cup title this year. After the race Sunday, lets just say that the RFR organization is glad to be headed out of Chicagoland. All three drivers struggled to get their cars dialed in all race long, and at one point, Matt Kenseth lost a shock absorber. Chicagoland was not a great start for the RFR team and they will head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway looking to bounce back.