Bad Luck or Mistakes Challenge Chasers at Chicagoland

By Rich Foust

The first race of the Chase is behind us and almost all Chase contenders had a stellar day at Chicagoland Speedway. But for some it was challenging and in some cases, a downright disappointing day…

Four Chasers had mild to major issues at the 1.5-mile track in Joliet, IL. Starting with Dale Jr, who qualified in fourth place, then had to make an engine change due to a mistake in over-revving his engine during his qualifying run. As a result, Dale Jr took the green flag at the back of the field. Although he had a terrible starting position, in typical Junior fashion, he made his way to the front resulting in an 8th-place finish.

The second issue of the day was Matt Kenseth. Although it cannot be confirmed, if his shock failed or was not tight at the start of the race, either way the No. 17 shock broke and fell off the car. The team replaced the shock and Kenseth was able to finish the race in 18th-place.

The third contender to fall victim was Jeff Gordon and his issue can only be described as bad luck. A throttle return spring failed, resulting in a very hard lick into the wall and a lot of damage to the No. 24 car. With repairs and his eventual return to the track to make a couple laps, Gordon finished in 35th-place for the day.

The final Chaser to have an issue was Denny Hamlin. While having a top-ten day, on his final pit stop, there was a crucial mistake. The gasman did not get enough fuel into the fuel tank, while adjustments were being made to the car.  This mistake would prove to be devastating, as Denny ran out of fuel on the white flag lap and fell from 7th to 16th for his race finish.

From my own experience in racing, drivers have to be at the top of their game and make no mistakes when contending for a championship. It also helps when lady luck is in a driver’s corner, because there are some race situations that are not within a driver’s control.

But for fans of the sport, that is all part of what makes racing so interesting and why we love to watch. On to New Hampshire for the next Chase race.

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