For Brad Keselowski, the weekend at New Hampshire was one to remember. As for every other Nationwide and Sprint Cup driver, it was spent trying to figure out how to overcome Keselowski.
The 2012 Sprint Cup champion throttled the field on Saturday night in the Nationwide Series, then completed the sweep with another dominant performance on Sunday.
In fact, current full-time Sprint Cup competitors took up the top four spots and led a total of 197 out of 200 laps. Keselowski alone amassed 152 of those laps led in the Sta-Green 200.
Luckily for the Nationwide regulars, most of the premier series drivers will be taking the week off at Chicagoland. With the exception of Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson, the field is full of racers contending for a Nationwide championship.
Before the 18th race of the season gets underway, here's a look at the schedule, standings and preview for the EnjoyIllinois.com 300.
EnjoyIllinois.com 300 Information
Where: Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Illinois
When: Saturday, July 19, 8:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
|Pos.||Driver||Points||Wins||Top 5||Top 10|
For once, the Nationwide drivers will get a chance to compete without a slew of Buschwackers on the track.
That doesn't necessarily mean the Chicagoland race will be void of talent, though. With drivers such as Larson, Kahne and former Sprint Cup driver Sam Hornish on the course, anything is possible.
One driver who has no experience at the Nationwide level might also be looking to make a splash this weekend. Erik Jones, driving for Joe Gibbs, is coming off a huge win last weekend, as the Camping World Truck Series account notes:
Unfortunately, he was later docked 10 points for a post-race infraction, but the young driver has still been impressive all season.
As for the talent already in the Nationwide Series, both JR Motorsports drivers once again notched top-10 finishes in New Hampshire. Regan Smith secured his 15th, while Chase Elliott took his 12th of the impressive rookie season.
Chase has a great appreciation for where he’s at and how he got there. He’s a really humble, quiet, mild-mannered person and very easy to work with, which is a huge, huge relief. He’s doing all the right things, even outside the car.
He has a real potential to be one of the biggest stars in the sport one day. And I expect that will happen. I expect he will put his mark on the sport and leave a great impression.
Who will win at Chicagoland?
In a field loaded with young talent, Elliott has proved he's a driver with staying power. Oh, and being the only full-time racer with two victories doesn't hurt either.
Another driver to watch will be Hornish, who has been in contention during nearly every start he's made this season. In just four starts, he has a win and three top-five finishes in search of a full-time ride for next year.
Along with those results, he's also had plenty of success at Chicagoland, as Kyle Pokrefky of The Fourth Turn notes:
The wide-open field at Chicagoland should make for an entertaining race as the Nationwide points race continues. With a ton of young talent and several veterans on the track together, expect a much less predictable weekend for the lower level of NASCAR.
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter: