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Nascar: Stars and Stripes weekend approaches

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Clint Bowyer is doused after winning a shortened NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, June 10, 2018, in Brooklyn, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)[]

After serving as the kickoff race for NASCAR’s playoffs for the past few seasons, Chicagoland Speedway now is just another stop along the way leading up to that event.

While the stage will be entirely different when competitors take part in the Overton’s 400 on July 1 in Joliet, officials at the speedway are hopeful that their Stars and Stripes weekend from June 28 to July 1 proves to be even more enticing to local racing fans.

The ARCA Racing Series Scott 150 kicks the weekend off at 8 p.m. June 28 and NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series Overton’s 225 takes center stage June 29 for an 8 p.m. scheduled start.

Highlights on June 30 are NASCAR’s Xfinity Overton’s 300 at 2:30 p.m. and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at 6:05 p.m. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Overton’s 400 will get underway at
1:30 p.m. July 1

The Monster Energy Series already has passed the midway mark in its 26-race regular season, with last week’s race at Michigan being the 15th event. There’s no competition this week and the only race before the drivers head to Chicagoland Speedway is next Sunday, when the action shifts to the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway in California.

As of now, there are five drivers who were 2017 playoff competitors who are not currently in this year’s playoff field. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is just four points out of the mix with 327 points, while Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth find themselves farther back. Paul Menard also is just four points back in the playoff race.

Kyle Busch leads the way with four wins, 10 top-fives and 664 points, and Kevin Harvick is next with five wins, 11 top-fives and 589 points. Joey Logano (566), Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. and Austin Dillon all have wins this year, which puts them in the playoff field. Bowyer edged Harvick to win the title at Michigan last weekend.

Others who currently are in the top-16 are Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones and Alex Bowman, who has 331 points.

Through 13 events in the Xfinity Series, Elliott Sadler hasn’t won, but does have nine top-fives to give him the points lead with 495 points. Cole Custer (454) and Daniel Hemric (446) also are seeking their first wins. Tyler Reddick (440), Christopher Bell (423) and Justin Allgaier (393) all have victories to their credit and round out the top-six in scoring.

The Xfinity Series heads to the Iowa Speedway this weekend for the Iowa 250. Last weekend in Michigan, Dillon defeated Hemric for the title.

After eight events in the Camping World Truck Series, Johnny Sauter is the leader with 378 points after winning four events and being in the top five in all but one race. Noah Gragson (301) and Brett Moffitt (283) rank second and third and also have wins, while Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton round out the top five in scoring.

The trucks were in Texas last week and also will compete in the M&M’s 200 in Iowa this weekend. In the PPG 400 at Texas Motor Speedway, Sauter beat Stewart Friesen for the title. The trucks head to Gateway Motorsports Park in downstate Madison next weekend.

Through eight races in the ARCA Series, Sheldon Creed leads with 1,965 points, thanks to a win and seven top five showings, while Zane Smith is second with 1,905 points after claiming three wins and placing in the top-five six times. Riley Herbst, Travis Braden and Chase Purdy round out the top five points leaders in the division.

They also competed at Michigan last weekend with Creed defeating Herbst for the title. ARCA drivers head to Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wisconsin this weekend and then head to Gateway Motorsports Park before visiting Joliet.