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Ben Margot/Associated Press

Chicagoland Speedway hosts the next major event for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Sunday, Martin Truex Jr. will lead the series into the Overton’s 400 after his triumph at Sonoma, giving him two victories over his past three outings and bringing him slightly closer to Kyle Busch’s four wins and the five belonging to Kevin Harvick.

Truex has to be the favorite to take down the checkered flag and tie Busch because he’s seeking out his third consecutive win at this particular event. The rest of the series won’t just let it happen, though—especially not with other names starting to come on strong.

               

Viewing Details

Where: Chicagoland Speedway

When: Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET

Watch: NBCSN

Live Stream: NBC Sports Live

Tickets: StubHub

                 

Overton’s 400

1. Kurt Busch (41)

2. Brad Keselowski (2)

3. Kyle Busch (18)

4. Kevin Harvick (4)

5. Joey Logano (22)

6. Aric Almirola (10)

7. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (17)

8. Erik Jones (20)

9. Ryan Blaney (12)

10. Denny Hamlin (11)

Note: Qualifying takes place Saturday. 

                

2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Standings

1. Kevin Harvick 624
2. Kyle Busch 696
3. Martin Truex Jr. 546
4. Clint Bowyer 544
5. Joey Logano 584
6. Austin Dillon 313
7. Brad Keselowski 554
8. Kurt Busch 524
9. Denny Hamlin 505
10. Kyle Larson 472
11. Aric Almirola 471
12. Ryan Blaney 466
13. Jimmie Johnson 419
14. Chase Elliott 411
15. Erik Jones 376
16. Alex Bowman 363
ESPN.com.

                     

Drivers to Watch

Kevin Harvick

Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

Fans can’t get far without hearing about Harvick, who has earned the right to sit in the spotlight. 

The five-time winner this year almost made it six at Sonoma, finishing second after leading 35 laps. Not that he will complain too much, as he still only has three non-top-10 finishes on the year. The runner-up finish gives him second place or better in five of his past seven races—and three of those are consecutive wins. 

Though he’s just having fun while trying to stay in form for the postseason, Harvick has the resume of a possible winner at Chicagoland:

Ask Harvick himself. A bit of dominance from a star isn’t a bad thing, as he told For The Win’s Michelle R. Martinelli: “You can look at it from both sides of the fence. I’ve done this for going on 18 years, and it doesn’t always go like this. I’ve seen [seven-time champion] Jimmie Johnson dominate for a number of years. You saw [four-time champion] Jeff Gordon dominate for a number of years. So it’s not something that’s new.”

A sixth win for Harvick might seem like overkill, but he’s got the juice to pull it off. And the fans will keep watching and cheering on either way—they do over in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors. 

                       

Clint Bowyer

Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

Clint Bowyer is one of those names making unexpected noise lately. 

Bowyer won in Martinsville back in March, but it was hard to tell whether it portended the arrival of a new serious contender at a time when only the usual suspects were winning races. 

Fast forward to June, and Bowyer picked up a win at Michigan before recording a top-three performance at Sonoma, confirming to the rest of the field he’s hitting on a hot streak in the middle of the summer. 

“This is a humbling sport, and I have been all over the place with it—high, low and everywhere in between,” Bowyer said, according to USA Today‘s Mike Hembree. “It just makes you appreciate the ride you are on right now and the group that I am around. We are hitting on all eight cylinders and getting the most out of our weekends and starting to get the consistency back that we were kind of lacking last year.”

The relaxed style from the veteran explains why he gets hot or cold, but he’s sitting on nine top-10 performances and is one of only four multi-race winners this season. 

It’s hard to imagine Bowyer cooling off. Third behind Truex and Harvick in the previous race isn’t exactly a bad finish, so he could inch even closer to the biggest names in the sport at Chicagoland. 

                      

Martin Truex Jr.

Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

It was starting to look like nobody could break up the Busch-Harvick party until June.

Then Truex grabbed his second and third wins of the season, first at Pocono and then at Sonoma. He led 62 laps at the latter on his way to the win, second only to the 125 he led in a victory this season at California in March.

It’s a bad time for the rest of the field to watch Truex get hot considering his recent history at Chicagoland. He won this event in 2017 by leading 77 laps, and the year before that he took the checkered flag after leading 32.

His performance at Sonoma might be even more impressive given Truex won by a margin of 10.5 seconds. He’s habitually starting to win races by huge margins, as ESPN.com’s Matt Willis pointed out: “Truex has multiple wins this season of more than 10 seconds. Prior to this season, nobody had won by a margin that large since Kurt Busch at Texas in 2009. In another pit-strategy-aided victory, Busch won by more than 25 seconds.”

Based on the big outcomes, Truex could be heading for more victories sooner rather than later. He’s the obvious favorite in Chicago, where he has a chance to make it not only three in a row at the event but three wins in four races this season.



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