Chicago could land Ford or Dodge win

Jul 4, 2006 4:41 AM

Last week at Daytona we tried to make a case for the combined efforts of Dodge and Ford against Chevrolet. We failed.

With all the data accumulated, the price on the Pepsi 400 for a Chevrolet to win was -300 with a take back of +220 on the other side. Tony Stewart and his No. 20 Chevy won the race, his second victory in a row at the Firecracker. Ford and Dodge just get added to the long list of statistics that say Chevy is the absolute best with plates.

This week the teams hit Joliet (Illinois) and the Chicagoland Speedway, a place where a Ford has never won. In the five races on the track dating back to 2001, the scoreboard reads Chevy 4, Dodge 1, Ford 0.

One of the more surprising things about all five races is that Ford’s failure to win due to Jack Roush’s dominance on 1½-mile cookie cutter tracks. While the track is not identical to any other, it is very similar in banking, width, and distance. Chicagoland’s features are right up Jack Roush’s alley. That’s why, even without a win, Ford and Dodge will be favored over Chevy.

Roush is feeling so confident about his team’s chance for success that he decided to make Chicago the first stop for his driver of the future. Todd Kluever will be making debuting in the No. 06 3M Ford Fusion, but don’t expect his finish to be too high just because he’s a first timer.

This is the driver that has been groomed to take over Mark Martin’s car next year, if Martin does really retire. Kluever will be found in the 50-1 range of odds to win. He’ll have a car capable of competing at a high level, but he’s got four Roush teammates that will be much better.

Greg Biffle has had all kinds of success on these type of tracks. Matt Kenseth had by far the most dominant car in last year’s race, only to finish second. Both Biffle and Kenseth are listed at 8-1 to win.

The favorites at Chicagland to win the race are Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson, each at 6-1. Both have been impressive at Chicago. Johnson has never finished worse than fourth in four career starts. Stewart claims a win and three top 5 finishes in his five starts. After this duo, the quality dips quite a bit.

Last year’s Chicago winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr, comes in at an under-priced 15-1. It’s that low only because of what the market dictates. Fans will bet him because he won last year, so the demand is there at any price. His true odds should be about 25-1.

Kevin Harvick won the first two Chicago races. He’s been better than average in his last three outings there, but that was with a different team mindset. The Childress organization has really done some good things lately. The upgrades are apparent in how well all three of their cars are performing week-to-week on any track. Harvick will be found at about 18-1. He might be a very good play in matchups against middle tiered drivers.

Kasey Kahne is the driver we are going to look at this week to roll, having dominated just about every 1½ to 2-mile track this year. Kahne has won four races — Atlanta, Texas, Charlotte, and then Michigan. Chicago is different in many ways, but it’s hard to go against a trend of four wins.

The only Dodge to ever win at Chicago was Ryan Newman three seasons ago. It’s not the same team anymore. Newman can be found at 25-1.

There are four current race tracks the Cup Series runs on that Jeff Gordon has not won. Gordon is 0-for-11 at Texas with a best of second in 2002, 0-for-15 at Phoenix International Raceway with a best of third in 2002 and 2004; 0 for 5 at Chicago with a second in 2003 and 0-for-7 at Homestead 0 for 7 with a best of third in 2004. Gordon has won at 20-of-24 tracks (18 active). His odds this week are at 13-1.

T-Stew goes Mosh

"I don’t know why I do half the stupid stuff I do, I’ll be honest," Stewart said. "I felt good after the end of the race until I got stupid and went up the flag stand again. I’ll be honest, there was no way I was going to let those race fans down because it started here. This was the year after it all started and I was either going to get all the way up or I was going to fall off and on my butt.

"I wasn’t going to stop until I either got all the way up or fell off," he continued. "One or the other. I wasn’t going to let those race fans down. They expected it tonight. You could see it when we came down the front stretch before we even turned around. They were already on their feet by the flag stand. It was every bit as big, if not bigger, than it was last year. Last year I thought I was going to fall going back down over the fence.

"I thought this year I’d be smarter, — more experienced at it," he stated. "I would go down, crawl through the gate and call it a day. I got down there and there was no gate. But there was a mosh pit. So I did learn one thing. I’m too old for binge parties and all that stuff. So I’ll be a chaperone for it instead. I don’t even think I should be a chaperone. You’re right. I’m not really chaperone material."

Ferrell Grand Marshal

Columbia Pictures release "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," is coming to the Chicagoland Speedway this Sunday. The film’s star, Will Ferrell, will serve as Grand Marshal for the USG Sheetrock 400. This movie is bound not to win an Oscar for best screenplay, but if it’s like any Ferrell movie of the past, it will be nonstop comedy.