Posted by: Dave Thompson, follow @phillyfan17
September 18, 2017
Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray all had strong starts to the 2017 playoffs for my team. Kurt Busch was my lone driver that had some bad luck in the final stage that cost him a top-10. Otherwise, a very solid start to the playoff for my four drivers.
Brad Keselowski – He started 5th and hung around the top-10 most of the race and finished in 6th position. The finish earned Keselowski his seventh consecutive top-10 at Chicagoland Speedway.
My prediction for a top-five fell just short with his 6th-place finish, but Keselowski held his fourth position in the standings heading to New Hampshire this weekend.
“Yeah, we can be happy with sixth. We scored a bunch of stage points and had a solid day up front. One more of these races either Loudon or Dover and we should be good to advance to the next round. I think we can pull that off. We are still looking for a little speed but execution today was really, really strong. Great day on pit road, great restarts. All that stuff was what you look for, we just need to marry that up with some speed and we can win any of these races.”
Denny Hamlin – Hamlin started on the front row and had a fast car throughout the race, but just didn’t have enough for the any of the top-three finishers.
Hamlin hopes that a return to New Hampshire will bring even better results than Chicagoland. He earned his first win of the season at New Hampshire back in July.
My prediction was spot on for Hamlin…a top-10 finish for the No. 11 team.
Post race quote:
“It was about a fourth-place car – the 18 (Kyle Busch) was very strong at the beginning. We just hung around the top-five or sixth at worst and third at best. Finished about right where we should have.”
Kurt Busch – Busch had a top-10 run going until setbacks in the final stage cost him a solid start to the playoffs. A pit road penalty on lap 200 under green flag conditions dropped Busch to 20th and one lap down. He finished a disappointing 19th position, two laps down.
My prediction of a top-10 for Busch was well within his grasp until the pit road penalty doomed his solid start to the playoffs.
Jamie McMurray – McMurray was Mr. Consistency again and quietly earned
another top-10 finish at a track he had average a 2oth-place finish in 15 previous starts. With his 1oth-place finish, McMurray moves from 16th in the playoff standings to 11th.
Post race quote:
“So, 10th-place isn’t bad. I think we finished 10th in one of the stages as well. I don’t know what happened on the backstretch. I think I just didn’t give the No. 31 (Ryan Newman) enough room and it got me turned around. We were lucky the caution kind of fell right and then we had a pretty fast car as well. We were faster probably at the beginning than we were at the end, but overall it was a good way to start the first race.”