Joliet, IL (Sports Network) - The Nationwide Series is in action this weekend
at Chicagoland Speedway, as four drivers have a chance to win some extra money
in the next round of the "Dash 4 Cash."
STP 300 - Chicagoland Speedway - Joliet, Ill.
It's the final off weekend for the Sprint Cup Series this season, and the
Camping World Truck Series isn't on track again until next Wednesday with its
first-ever race on dirt at Eldora Speedway.
The IndyCar Series and Formula One are taking a break this week as well.
So, is there any racing this weekend?
Yep. The Nationwide Series takes center stage on Sunday at Chicagoland
This will be the first of two Nationwide races at Chicagoland this season. The
series will join Sprint Cup at this 1.5-mile racetrack on the second weekend
The points battle for the Nationwide championship has heated up during the
past month. Just 24 points separate the top-five drivers right now. The margin
between leader Regan Smith and 10th-place Parker Kligerman is 69 markers.
Smith held a commanding 58-point lead when he won the June 15 event at
Michigan, but after the last four races, his advantage has been trimmed to
only five points over Sam Hornish Jr. Smith placed 32nd at Road America and
then 30th at Kentucky before he finished eighth at both Daytona and New
"The past two weeks have been frustrating for our team," Smith said. "At
Daytona and Loudon (N.H.), we ran well and in the top five. We've just been
unable to put an entire race together and have it play out like we need to.
Top-10's are good, but when you run top-three and top-five all day, it makes
them difficult to accept. I won't say I don't think about the points. It's
just that right now our main focus is getting back to maintaining positions in
the closing laps and capitalizing on opportunities. If we can do that, the
points will take care of itself."
Hornish finished 32nd at Michigan but has scored four straight top-10 runs
"We have had fast Ford Mustangs everywhere that we've raced, and our
intermediate track program is solid," Hornish said. "We've put a lot of effort
into improving our mile and a half (track) performance, and we are looking
forward to this weekend. I am confident and hopeful about the second half of
Austin Dillon moved up to third in the standings (-12) after his third-place
finish at New Hampshire. Dillon also collected the $100,000 "Dash 4 Cash"
bonus from series-title sponsor Nationwide Insurance for being the highest-
finishing point-eligible driver in the race. He won the cash award at New
Hampshire last year as well.
"I'm very excited to be in the points position that we are right now, just
because of how great the competition is in the Nationwide Series," Dillon
said. "I would love to be first in points. You always would be. But I feel
like you've got guys out there battling for points, and we're just kind of
slipping in there, and that's where you want to be."
Justin Allgaier, an Illinois native, is fourth in points (-20), followed by
Elliott Sadler (-24).
Chicagoland is the third of four races in this year's Dash 4 Cash. The final
event will be on July 27 at Indianapolis. Dillon, Brian Vickers, Brian Scott
and Michael Annett are eligible for the bonus at Chicagoland based on their
finishing positions at New Hampshire.
Vickers finished second in the Nationwide race at New Hampshire and then
notched a surprising victory in the Sprint Cup event there.
"Being a part of the Dash 4 Cash has added an extra element of excitement this
week," Vickers said. "I'm thrilled that I'm going to be a part of it this
week. Not only will we be going for the win, but we'll be battling it out for
the $100,000 Nationwide Dash 4 Cash bonus."
Vickers moved up to sixth in Nationwide points (-46) following New Hampshire.
Forty-two teams are on the preliminary entry list for the STP 300. Joey Logano
is the only Sprint Cup regular scheduled to compete in this race.
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