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(photo source: Zimbio.com/Sarah Crabill/Getty Images North America)

Started: 11th (Qualifying was rained out and starting position was based on the points).

Finished: 16th

Chase Standing: 12th*

(photo source: Zimbio.com/Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images North America)

Tony Stewart speaks with his team on the radio before the drop of the green flag before every race- and this week he wanted to emphasize two points with the crew and team before the first race of the playoffs start. He wanted them to know that they win as a team and lose as a team but that he wanted them to finish off the last ten weeks of his last season as a NASCAR driver having FUN no matter where they end up at the end of the season.

I don’t know about how much fun Tony was having out there in Chicagoland during the first race of the Chase however.  After a handful or two of laps Tony radioed into the crew to let them know while he was still having handling issues that car’s stability was much better than it had been during Saturday’s practice. Tony then seemed to struggle for the majority of the race with his handling falling down the field until he was around 19th or 20th but still on the lead lap.  He went a lap down three times during the race- once for pitting during a caution but luckily he was able to take the wave around for that and get our lap right back. Once he got passed by race leader Chase Elliott but was able to maintain lucky dog position until a debris caution came out and allowed Tony to get his lap back.  The same thing happened again at the end of the race when Tony was again passed by leader Chase Elliott but Tony again was able to maintain his lucky dog position and then  the caution with four laps to go put him back on the lead lap. In the first overtime of the playoffs- Tony was able to maintain his position on the lead lap and finished 16th. Race winner was Martin Truex Jr. (more…)