JOLIET, Ill. – Bring on the bumps.
Reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion Martin Truex, Jr. says the bumps in the asphalt at Chicagoland Speedway make driving more difficult – and for Truex, that’s a good thing.
Shots from Justin Hailey’s visor cam in Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the 1.5-mile track showed just how rough a ride the Cup drivers will get in Sunday’s Overton’s 400. But in Truex’s view, difficult conditions help elevate the quality of the on-track product.
“I think it’s great,” Truex said before Saturday morning’s opening practice at Chicagoland. “Anytime we can make the track more difficult, it can add to the racing. This place has been bumpy for the last few years and quite a long time. It seems like every year it gets worse. I think that’s a good thing.
“I enjoy this place because of that and seems like bumpy tracks put on really good racing. It kind of takes you out of your normal routine as far as the way you do things. You have to make compromises. Some guys are better in certain areas of the track, and that makes for more fun races. This place is unbelievable, and I look forward to racing on it here this weekend.”
There may be a modicum of bias in Truex’s point of view. After all, he’s the winner of the last two races at the Joliet track. But Truex also acknowledges that the bumpy asphalt demands modifications to the setup of his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota Camry.
“It definitely changes how you practice and how you drive,” said Truex, who celebrated his 38th birthday on Friday. “Changes how you set the car up, and you definitely have to make more compromises when the tracks are bumpy with your setup, and you can’t just run the car a 16th of an inch off the race track all the way around like you do at some places.
“So it’s definitely tougher to figure out, but it’s a lot harder on the crew chiefs and engineers, for sure, because we complain about the bumps, and they try to fix them (with setup), and it hurts other parts of the track. So a lot of compromise here compared to other places.”
Daniel Suarez Is Confident He Can Qualify For The Playoffs
Entering Sunday’s Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, the 17th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the 2018 season, Daniel Suárez is 19th in the standings.
Nearly halfway through his sophomore season at NASCAR’s highest level, Suárez is still looking for his first victory. The best career results for the 26-year-old from Mexico are two third-place finishes, at Watkins Glen in 2017 and at Dover this year.
But one thing Suárez doesn’t lack is confidence, and on Saturday morning at Chicagoland Speedway, he called his own shot where the Cup Series Playoffs are concerned.
“I don’t really know (how), but we’re going to make it,” Suárez asserted. “I will tell you that. Somehow, we are going to work very hard like we’ve been doing. It’s a real shame that we haven’t showed the results we deserve, because the speed has been there.
“We have shown the ability to finish in the top-10 every race. I don’t know. I don’t know what I am doing wrong. Maybe some of my stuff, it needs a little bit of luck, but I don’t believe in luck 100 percent. We’re going to be fine. Maybe in a month, we’re going to be in a different position.”
Suárez can make the final 16 either with a victory or on points. As it stands now, with Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon 18th in points, Suárez would have to overtake 15th-place Alex Bowman to qualify for the Playoffs.
Though Suárez trails Bowman by 73 points, he doesn’t view that deficit as insurmountable.
“By points is very doable,” Suárez said. “I think if we have the speed to go out there and win a race, we will take that chance. But if we don’t and have to finish top-five or top-10, we’re going to be consistent and play that way, winning the stage points and stuff like that.
“I mean 70 points in 10 races is not a lot. It’s doable, but you have to race smart, and a lot of people freak out a little bit. I am not one of those. I have to stay calm. We will be fine.”
WDUN will carry live MRN Radio coverage of Sunday's NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Overton’s 400 from Chicagoland Speedway beginning at 1:30 pm on 102.9 FM, AM 550 and streaming live on AccessWDUN.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Chicagoland Speedway – Joliet, IL
Overton’s 400 – July 1, 2018
Sunday’s Starting Lineup
1. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 180.012 mph.
2. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 179.880 mph.
3. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 179.748 mph.
4. (41) Kurt Busch, Ford, 179.545 mph.
5. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 179.491 mph.
6. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 179.259 mph.
7. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 179.093 mph.
8. (24) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 179.057 mph.
9. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 178.826 mph.
10. (19) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 176.315 mph.
11. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 178.761 mph.
12. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 178.731 mph.
13. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 178.489 mph.
14. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 178.047 mph.
15. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 177.754 mph.
16. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 177.684 mph.
17. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 177.288 mph.
18. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 177.223 mph.
19. (47) A.J. Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 177.061 mph.
20. (17) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 176.373 mph.
21. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 176.557 mph.
22. (43) Darrell Wallace, Jr. #, Chevrolet, 176.378 mph.
23. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 175.890 mph.
24. (95) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 175.827 mph.
25. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 175.467 mph.
26. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 174.306 mph.
27. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 174.087 mph.
28. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 174.020 mph.
29. (23) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 173.902 mph.
30. (99) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 170.740 mph.
31. (00) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 170.412 mph.
32. (72) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 169.194 mph.
33. (51) B.J. McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 169.099 mph.
34. (7) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 168.471 mph.
35. (66) Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 167.567 mph.
36. (78) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 0.000 mph.
37. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 0.000 mph.
38. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
39. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.