Usually, Chicago is all about the Bulls, Cubs, White Sox and Bears. But, in mid-July, it means NASCAR. The Chicagoland Speedway played host to the beginning of the second half of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. On tap this week, as the lights turned on, was the LifeLock.com 400.
Jamie McMurray would win the pole, but on the first lap it would be Jimmie Johnson taking the lead. He would go on to hold the top position until David Stremme had trouble, smacking the wall in turn 2.
The cycle of pit stops would bring in the leaders, with very little changes out front as Johnson would beat McMurray off pit road. On the restart, he would be able to pull away from the field, spelling bad news for a lot of the fans and the other drivers.
Johnson was set to come in at lap 92, however it would be a rare mistake by the four-time champion that would be the talk. Of all things to have occur, Johnson missed the entrance to pit road, handing the lead to McMurray. Johnson would fall to third after the pit stops.
Meanwhile, McMurray would continue to dominate even as the field went under caution for debris on lap 131. Shortly after the field went back to green, the bad night of Johnson began to unravel. On lap 138, while racing with Martin Truex Jr, the No. 48 went for a spin on the backstretch. Despite multiple replays, it was not determined if contact was made or just a case of getting loose. Johnson kept the car away from trouble, but the spin set him back in the field.
McMurray would bring the field to green with Jeff Gordon on his outside. With a lot of effort, Gordon would get the run and make the pass on lap 165 for his first lead of the night.
He would hold the lead when the fourth, and ultimately final, caution flag flew on lap 180. Bill Elliot got loose and hit the wall in the fourth turn, but as he was sliding down, his No. 21 Ford got t-boned by Robby Gordon. The vicious impact put both cars out for the night, but no one was injured.
Gordon would hold the lead coming off pit road, but all through the middle portion of the race the field had their eyes on another driver. That would be the No. 00 of David Reutimann, and he made his presence felt as the laps began winding down.
Reutimann would lead for the first tome on lap 201, and then took the lead again at lap 213. He would lead just as pit stops were beginning for the final run to the finish. As the field cycled through, Reutimann again found himself at the front, with Gordon in second and Carl Edwards trailing in third. Thoughts of his rain-shortened win last year at Charlotte had to be in his head, as people thought it wasn’t a real victory and said it was a smart call by the crew that won the race.
But, 20 laps, then 10 laps and then five laps to go, the lead was his. Edwards was coming, and Reutimann knew it. The problem was, time was of the essence, and on this night the sand in the hourglass ran empty.
After hearing all the nay-sayers, the pandering, the negativity and the scrutiny for that victory at Charlotte, Reutimann put all that to rest. His No. 00 Tums Toyota came out of the final corner and finally took the checkered flag, winning the LifeLock.com 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway.
The emotions in victory lane were well deserved as Reutimann was nearly in tears. It was the second win for Reutimann and the second for owner Michael Waltrip. A very fitting end for one of the nicest drivers on the circuit.
It is a rare off-weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as they get a break from the action. The stars will return to action on Sunday, July 25, for the running of the Brickyard 400 at the infamous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Coverage now moves to ESPN that day with NASCAR Countdown beginning at Noon ET, with the race following an hour later.
RESULTS: 1-Reutimann 2-Edwards 3-Gordon 4-Bowyer 5-McMurray 6-Kahne 7-Burton 8-Hamlin 9-Stewart 10-Menard
NOTABLE FINISHES: 13-Kenseth 15-Martin 17-Kyle Busch 23-Earnhardt Jr. 25-Johnson 26-Kurt Busch 34-Harvick
CAUTIONS: 4 for 21 laps: Laps: 40-43 (#26 accident turn 2); 131-135 (Debris); 138-140 (#48 spin backstretch); 180-188 (#7, 21 accident turn 4).
LEAD CHANGES: 10 among 7 drivers: McMurray POLE; Johnson 1-92; McMurray 93-164; Gordon 165-200; Reutimann 201; Gordon 202-212; Reutimann 213-231; Bowyer 232; Edwards 233-234; Montoya 235; Reutimann 236-267.
TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 45 Mins, 34 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 145.138 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.727 Seconds
POINT STANDINGS (Seven races before the Chase): 1-Harvick, 2745 points; 2-Gordon, -103; 3-Johnson, -188; 4-Hamlin, -203; 5-Kurt Busch, -221; 6-Kyle Busch, -257; 7-Burton, -280; 8-Kenseth, -299; 9-Stewart, -356; 10-Edwards, -400; 11-Biffle, -453; 12-Bowyer, -459.