Based on average finish, Chicagoland Speedway is Chase Elliott’s best race track. While his second- and third-place results in two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts may inspire optimism in the 22-year-old driver’s chances at winning there this weekend, he’ll need the 400-mile contest to break a specific and perhaps unlikely way to contend for his first series victory.It’s certainly possible for Elliott to emerge the winner, but it’s easier said than done as his bid for the checkers begins with a diminished dependence on the single attribute that matters most in racing.Elliott doesn’t have elite speedAn issue plaguing all of Hendrick Motorsports is the lack of elite speed. Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet is the fastest of the organization’s four cars, but it ranks just 11th in Central Speed through last week’s race at Sonoma. Tracks like Chicagoland, a 1.5-mile venue with moderate banking, have rewarded the fastest cars with a 1-to-1 correlation between speed and winning dating back to last year. Martin Truex, Jr. won all six races on moderate intermediates in 2017 while having the fastest overall car in the series; Kevin Harvick, utilizing the fastest car for all of 2018, has won two of two this season.PHOTOS: Chase Elliott through the yearsElliott’s speed deficit presents two problems. First, it’ll be difficult for him to track down Harvick, Kyle Busch and the other speedsters in a straightforward race, barring an unforeseen advancement in Hendrick’s aero design. Second, Elliott’s greatest strength, his long-run passing ability, will be neutralized in the event long green-flag runs dominate the proceedings. While a race with few cautions would allow Elliott ample time to carve through traffic — he’s accumulated 54 positions on such runs at non-restrictor plate tracks this season — it’d also allow the faster cars, likely in clean air, to drive away from him.What’s a driver to do when his strength is rendered irrelevant?Pit now!Chicagoland’s weathered surface is so rough on tires that grip quickly diminishes and lap times swell by nearly 2 seconds on natural green-flag runs. This makes short-pitting — pitting laps in advance of cars higher in the running order — an amenable strategy to those crew chiefs willing to stop early in the pit window.RELATED: Tire, surface play pivotal roleAlan Gustafson, Elliott’s crew chief, has retained his driver’s running position on 77.78 percent of green-flag pit cycles this season, an above average-rate among all crew chiefs. This yielded 63 additional spots on the track for Elliott, the fourth-biggest net positional gain from green-flag stops. While Gustafson’s pit strategy has provided a positive output, he still may need to step outside his comfort zone in order to overtake those running ahead of the No. 9 car Sunday.Chase Elliott’s best shot at winning Sunday may be through a differing pit strategy. Brian Lawdermilk | Getty ImagesNearly 89 percent of Elliott’s green-flag stops can be described as “conservatively timed,” having come when pit road was at its most populated within a cycle; the series average for crew chiefs pitting conservatively is 75 percent. Less than 4 percent of Elliott’s stops were done using a short-pitting strategy, the ideal game plan for those seeking giant leaps of track position at Chicagoland. In order to get around the likes of Harvick, who retains top-five running positions on more than 63 percent of green-flag stops, Gustafson will have to reference a seldom-used page from his playbook.In the instance his crew chief remains conservative, there’s one other likely way for Elliott to emerge the victor.Chaos equals restarts and restarts equal chaosBased on recent history — 4.3 restarts per race dating back to 2015’s event — long green-flag runs rule at Chicagoland, meaning its races don’t elicit many restarts. That’s bad news for Elliott.In prior years, Elliott had a faster car at his disposal and in 2017 he ranked as a top-five position defender in each restart groove. Neither of those high marks is in place this year, as Elliott is suffering through a 28 percent decrease in total restart position retention. Still, he scored four positions on two preferred groove restart attempts in last year’s Chicagoland race — perhaps his affinity for the track supersedes his yearlong dip — and lane assignment could fall in his favor.MORE: This week’s paint schemesIn 2017, occupants in Chicagoland’s outside groove retained their positions on 89 percent of restarts from inside the first seven rows, while those in the inside groove did so 32 percent of the time. If Elliott ever finds himself in an even-numbered running position prior to a restart, that fortunate placement provides the ideal opportunity to score track position that may otherwise elude him, setting the tone for the rest of his race.A caution-filled race, atypical but still possible, could allow for a large number of such opportunities, helping level the playing field for Elliott, a seemingly excellent Chicagoland driver in need of a non-traditional pathway to victory.David Smith is the Founder of MotorsportsAnalytics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidSmithMA.
View Comments Andrew Rannells(Photo: Emilio Madrid-Kuser) Here’s a quick roundup of stories you might have missed today. Andrew Rannells-Led Comedy Series Black Monday Picked Up by ShowtimeAndrew Rannells, the two-time Tony nominee currently back on Broadway in The Boys in the Band, is returning to the small screen, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Girls alum will star in Black Monday, a new series about the aftermath of the 1987 stock market crash. The previously announced comedy, formerly titled Ball Street, has received an initial slate of 10 episodes from Showtime. Off-Broadway veteran and seven-time Emmy nominee Don Cheadle will co-star.Ariana DeBose, Ashley Park, Boys in the Band Stars & More Set for Broadway Bares: Game Night2018 Tony nominees Ariana DeBose and Ashley Park are among the newly announced stars who will strip down for a good cause as part of Broadway Bares latest edition, Game Night. A star-studded lineup of Broadway’s best will take part in the flirty evening of fun, games and unparalleled striptease at 9:30pm and midnight on June 17. The shows will also feature performances by Jay Armstrong Johnson, Alison Luff, Rema Webb, Kirstin Maldonado, Lesli Margherita, L. Steven Taylor and Wesley Taylor, with special guest appearances by Boys in the Band castmates Matt Bomer, Charlie Carver, Robin De Jesús, Andrew Rannells, Michael Benjamin Washington and Tuc Watkins, along with an appearance by two-time Tony winner Judith Light. Broadway Bares: Game Night benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Roundabout to Honor John Lithgow at 2019 GalaRoundabout Theatre Company has announced that its 2019 annual gala will celebrate Tony- and Emmy-winning actor John Lithgow with The Jason Robards Award for Excellence in Theatre. Roundabout’s gala will be held on February 25, 2019 at a venue to be announced. Lithgow most recently appeared onstage in Roundabout’s Broadway transfer of the solo play John Lithgow: Stories by Heart. Lithgow is a two-time Tony winner for The Changing Room and Sweet Smell of Success as well as a two-time Oscar nominee and six-time Emmy winner. The Jason Robards Award for Excellence in Theatre is named after the late Jason Robards for his longstanding relationship with Roundabout and his memorable body of stage work. It is given to those who have made an indelible impact on both Roundabout and the theater world. read more
Rosneft and ExxonMobil have started 2D seismic exploration at the Anisinsko-Novosibirsky and Ust-Oleneksky license blocks in the Laptev Sea.The plan is for the 2D seismic exploration work to acquire up to 6 thousand linear km; the exploration will last until the end of October.Alongside geophysical research, a license wide bathymetric survey of the seabed surface with multibeam echosounder will be carried out to define depth and study seabed topography. A modern research vessel Akademik Fersman will be engaged in the survey (carried out by Dalmorneftegeophysica).The research will result in the provision of regional data on the geological structure of resources within the work cluster, which will try to detect promising oil-and-gas objectives for further possible studies.Geological prospecting work in the Laptev Sea is being carried out ahead of license commitments subject to all requirements of environmental protection legislation of the Russian Federation.Geological prospecting work at the resource license block in the Laptev Sea is arranged by Rosneft subsidiary RN-Shelf-Far East.Rosneft obtained licenses for investigation, exploration and production of hydrocarbons within the Anisinsko-Novosibirsky and Ust-Oleneksky license blocks in 2013. The area of the blocks is over 205 thousand square km.September 02, 2014; Image: Shipspotting, airaviation2000 read more
UK: High Speed 2 project promoter HS2 Ltd has signed what it terms a ‘ground-breaking agreement’ with the UK Rail Research & Innovation Network of universities and research institutions.The agreement with UKRRIN Ltd which was announced on August 14 is intended to enable HS2 Ltd to ‘accelerate new technologies and products from research into market applications globally’.The University of Birmingham will coordinate UKRRIN’s activities in support of HS2 Ltd. The agreement will see research undertaken at three core academic centres of excellence, with each one leading a specific discipline:digital systems (led by the University of Birmingham);infrastructure (University of Southampton);rolling stock (University of Huddersfield).The first work package covered by the agreement will be led by the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research & Education, and will focus on use of simulation models to improve understanding of the performance of expansion joints used in high speed track.‘HS2 is a major opportunity for British academia and UK plc to come together and meet the challenge of delivering what is a huge investment in the country’s future’, said HS2 Ltd Head of Innovation Howard Mitchell. ‘The programme’s scale and longevity creates the right conditions to develop solutions for High Speed 2 and also the wider rail industry — both of which are crucial in helping Britain to decarbonise.’‘BCRRE works very closely with our industry partners to develop and deploy world-leading technologies onto the railway’, added Professor Clive Roberts, Director of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research & Education.‘High speed rail is a vital part of the future of rail innovation in the UK and we’re delighted to be joining forces with HS2 to play our part in that future.’ read more
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInMSP Joan McAlpine has told the Creative Scotland boss that the south of Scotland has been treated unfairly in its latest funding announcement. “I know these are very difficult decisions – if you give money to new projects, or even more money to existing projects – it means you have to take money from old ones.“However, by their own priorities, Creative Scotland commit to supporting ‘people from all parts of the country to have a deep and meaningful engagement with arts and creativity’ – to achieve this they need to strategically shift money to the south of Scotland and fully support the examples of good practice that exist in the region.“I am very pleased Janet Archer has agreed to meet with me and I’ll be doing so at the earliest opportunity.” Creative Scotland is an agency independent of government – its decisions over regularly funded organisations have caused controversy recently – with a backlash over cuts to disability and children’s arts organisations in the central belt. Commenting, Ms McAlpine said: Only three organisations in the south of Scotland were granted regular funding – currently very few southern Scottish arts organisations are able to meet the criteria required for this – a situation Ms McAlpine argues, can only change with increased development support. The local MSP spoke with Creative Scotland Chief Executive Janet Archer after it became clear that less than 1% of the total regularly funded organisations budget was coming south of the central belt. As soon as Ms McAlpine became of aware of the situation she was on the phone to Creative Scotland boss Janet Archer, who has offered to meet to discuss the funding strategy going forward. While the Stove received a 100% uplift in its funding, this was from a base of being the lowest funded organisation in Scotland and the award represents only around 55% of the level applied for. Ms McAlpine said: Ms McAlpine says that the issue of how Creative Scotland spends money across the country also needs addressed. “On the face of it, the Stove’s funding is a success story – receiving a 100% uplift – the largest of any organisation across the country.“However, given its success they really should have been granted what they asked for.“Critically, the Stove is a development organisation with a proven track record of capacity building in Dumfries and Galloway – they have nurtured the growth of 4 new arts organisations, are supporting the careers of many new creatives and are building effective partnerships with non-arts agencies across the region. “In fact, Dumfries is so successful that Creative Scotland often use it as a “showcase” of where the arts are working really well with local communities and The Stove have a national award for their socially-engaged practice. Only last November, Creative Scotland co-produced a 2-day Scottish Place Network event with the Stove in Dumfries.“The wider context is that less than 1 % of the total regularly funded organisation funding pot was allocated in the south of Scotland. This really needs to be addressed.” read more