Chicago Update: Red Flag comes out for rain at Lap 110; Kenseth leads

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More than an hour after its scheduled start time, the first race of the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup got underway at Chicagoland Speedway after rain showers had delayed the drop of the green flag.

Pole sitter Joey Logano quickly shot out to an early lead, leaving Brad Keselowski and Juan Pablo Montoya to dice for second place behind him. While Logano paced the field, five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson – who went into the Chase with four straight finishes outside the Top 25 – quickly moved into the Top 5 after starting ninth on the grid.

When the previously announced competition caution came out at Lap 30, Logano was leading, followed by Keselowski in second, Johnson in third, Juan Pablo Montoya in fourth, and Greg Biffle in fifth.

The leaders then came down for their first stops of the day, and the race off pit road went to Johnson, who took two tires. Following him was Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Aric Almirola, who also all took two. Logano, who grabbed four, dropped back to sixth.

Busch actually managed to beat Johnson to the start/finish line on the Lap 38 restart, which is now permitted thanks to NASCAR’s new restart rules. That enabled Busch to lead Lap 37 under the yellow flag and earn a bonus point, but Johnson was able to take the lead back one lap later.

Johnson held the lead up to his next stop under green on Lap 75, but fell back after losing precious time when an official told them that a lugnut was loose on the right rear. The 48 crew frantically indicated otherwise before their driver was allowed back out. Additional problems were suffered in the green cycle by Kurt Busch, who was tagged for speeding on pit road.

Fox Sports’ Bob Dillner caught this bit of radio transmission between Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus after the stop:

When the cycle ended, Matt Kenseth came away with the lead, while Johnson fell back to fifth behind Kenseth, Keselowski, Logano and Kyle Busch. As for Kurt Busch, he found himself a lap down in 29th after his penalty.

Kenseth, who has claimed three of his five victories this season on 1.5-mile ovals such as Chicagoland, quickly built a sizable gap over Keselowski, Logano and Johnson, who proceeded to fight among each other for the runner-up spot shortly after the Lap 100 mark.

But on Lap 108, the rains returned just as Cole Whitt and Juan Pablo Montoya made contact in Turn 4, which caused the former to go skidding into the infield grass.  The caution came back out with 27 laps left before the race crossed the halfway point at Lap 134.

Three laps later, at Lap 110, the red flag came out and the cars went back to pit road to be quickly covered by teams.

Supercross reveals 2023 Daytona track designed by Ricky Carmichael for 16th time

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For the 16th consecutive year, Ricky Carmichael has designed a signature course for the Daytona Supercross race, which will be March 4, 2023.

Eli Tomac took advantage of a last lap mistake by Cooper Webb last year to win a record setting sixth Daytona race – and with that win, he broke out of a tie Carmichael.

Construction on the course will begin two days after the completion of the 65th running of NASCAR’s Daytona 500 when haulers start to unload 7,200 tons of dirt onto the grassy infield in order to create a course 3,300 feet long.

“Ricky has designed yet another incredible course for this year’s Daytona Supercross,” said Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher in a press release. “We’re thrilled to unveil it to the fans, and we can’t wait for them to come out to the track and see it in person.”

MORE: Designs for SuperMotocross finals at zMax Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway

Carmichael’s Daytona course will take center stage for Round 8 of the 17-race Supercross season and the 31-race SuperMotocross season.

The Supercross race coincides with Daytona’s Bike Week, which runs from March 3-12 and includes races from the American Flat Track series and the legendary Daytona 200 speedway race that is contested on the infield road course.

Last year’s course was reported to have 57 obstacles including the return of an over-under bridge. For 2023 the number of obstacles listed in 42, but that will not keep this from being one of the toughest tracks on which the Monster Energy Supercross series will race.

Many of the same elements from last year will be present including sharp turns, vaulted jumps, sand sections and a finish line that aligns with the oval tracks’ start/finish line.

“This year’s Daytona Supercross design is one of the best,” Carmichael said. “It races great for the riders – it’s safe yet challenging and it’s very similar to last year with the split lanes. Daytona is the toughest, gnarliest race on the Supercross circuit, but it’s the most special to win.

“This track is going to produce great racing and I think the riders are going to put on a fantastic display for all our fans.”

While Tomac has dominated this race during his career, Daytona has also been the site of some other dramatic victories. In 2021 Aaron Plessinger scored his first career Supercross podium in 35 starts with a win there and reversed a three-year streak of bad luck on the track.

The Daytona Supercross race is the first of two the series will contest on speedway infield courses. A little more than one month later, Atlanta Motor Speedway will enter their third season as a supercross venue. These two courses will serve as an early test for the SuperMotocross three-race finale that begins September 9, 2023 at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina. The three playoff races will each be held on courses that contain elements of Supercross and Motocross, much like Daytona and Atlanta.