On The Gas, On The Brakes at Chicagoland

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

“Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs.” Oh yes, Jim Mora, we are certainly talking about the playoffs, NASCAR style. Chicagoland Speedway kicked off the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs last weekend. With the first race in the books, it’s time to see who dropped the hammer and who needed to use those brake pedals.

On The Gas…

5) Landon Cassill – It’s easy to focus on the playoff guys, but there are still 24 other teams on track each week and many working on a limited budget. Cassill shows up with his Front Row Racing team and puts up solid finishes. Quietly showing off that he still belongs.

4) Kyle Larson – What seems as the only Chevrolet that has been able to keep up with the Toyota’s all season, Larson started off the Playoffs with a quiet and nothing spectacular type of day. The big problem for Larson is Michigan is not in the playoffs.

3) Denny Hamlin – He said it was a fourth place car, that’s where he finished. Maybe Hamlin should call his car a winning car and he’d battle Truex a little more. Well, it is a Toyota, wonder if Brad hates this one too?

2) Chase Elliott –  The summer wasn’t pretty for Chase Elliott, or Hendrick Motorsports for that matter, but a 2nd place run in the playoff opener gave driver 24 solid hopes of moving on to round two or maybe even a trip to Victory Lane soon.

1) Martin Truex Jr. – You know you’re having a really good year when you have two races that you lose with a little controversy and people are asking, is this the end. Nothing wrong. The No. 78 was extremely fast again in route to a direct path to the slime and round two of the playoffs.

After round one, plenty of drivers were happy about their position in the points and playoffs heading to next week at the Magic Mile where one slip can change that opinion, but who is now ready to get on to the next round because like many Cubs teams, they fell flat and wanted to leave the windy city?

On The Brakes…

5) Kyle Busch – He was quick on twitter, and on the race track, problem was, he can’t pit the car too. Pit road issues hit a lot of teams, but how you respond is key in the Playoffs, and Kyle didn’t respond well.

4) Kasey Kahne – With a new crew chief on the horizon, Kahne may have wished they had that done before Chicagoland. The amount of speed that was in the No. 5 car may not have even got him in the top 15 in Saturdays Xfinity race.

3) Jamie McMurray – With his teammate making a challenge for a final four spot and a legitimate Championship contender, McMurray has dug himself a hole trying to keep up. After spinning early, the No. 1 car sits just 5 points above the cut off line.

2) Richard Childress Racing  – You may have almost forgotten the RCR Chevy’s were even in the race if not for a speeding penalty by Austin Dillon. The No. 31 of Ryan Newman had comparable speed to Kahne, which isn’t saying much. Maybe a miracle will befall the RCR teams before Sunday…It could happen. 

1) Kurt Busch – Tell me if this sounds familiar–speeding penalty. Yeah, it was a rough on pit road and Championship contenders can’t have that with hopes of moving forward. The worst part for Busch was it came after having to pit for a vibration late in the race. It was a “monster” colapse.

Maybe the penalties were just a lot of chase, oh wait, playoff jitters. See, it even hits the best of us. Plenty of drivers will be happy to get to Loudon for race number two, unless they’re following a Toyota of course. Maybe Keselowski can start another Twitter war and keep us entertained that way.

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Stephen Conley

If it races, I'll write about it, talk about it or shoot it with a camera.

I began pursuing a career in motorsports journalism immediately after attending college at Kent State University where the Indians an Browns just didn't do it for me.

The excitement and the fans make everything I put out there worth while, it's been an exciting ten years so far having covered everything from the Daytona 500 to the Rolex 24 and Indycar at Mid-Ohio.

What I like to bring is a look behind the scenes, a look at what and who makes the sport grow. From the guy that welds pieces back at the shop to the host in the tv booth.

Everyone has a story and I like to tell it. My main focus here at TPF is looking at the men and women behind the microphone and cameras, plus I also host a weekly show called Race Talk Live every Wednesday night at 8EST.

I have a full time job working at a local Country radio station that is also the MRN affiliate in central Ohio, I host an overnight show, plus I'm the sports director, writing and producing programs on our AM sports channel and getting relevant local sports for our two FM channels and handling all the NASCAR coverage.

My life long goal is to become a member of MRN or PRN Radio and bring the races to you. I hope that what I share now is enjoyable and gives you a unique look in to the world of motorsports.

See you at a track soon

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