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Lap-by-Lap: Chicagoland

September 19, 2011, , NASCAR.com

CHECKERED FLAG: Tony Stewart wins his first race of the season at the perfect time. Cars are running out of fuel everywhere. Kevin Harvick finished second with Dale Earnhardt Jr. coming home third.

Lap 266 -- WHITE FLAG: Kyle Busch runs out of fuel as Tony Stewart leads.

Lap 265 -- Tony Stewart continues to lead.

Lap 264 -- Tony Stewart's lead is down to 1.7 seconds with three laps to go.

Lap 263 -- Carl Edwards is running in ninth as 10 of the top 11 are Chase drivers.

Lap 262 -- Kevin Harvick takes over second from Jimmie Johnson and is 2.3 seconds behind Tony Stewart with five laps to go.

Lap 261 -- Tony Stewart still leads by 2.3 seconds over Jimmie Johnson. Kevin Harvick has moved up to third, and is now battling for second.

Lap 260 -- Kevin Harvick is running fourth, one spot ahead of Ryan Newman. Harvick said he's hoping he's saved enough fuel.

Lap 259 -- Jimmie Johnson is running side-by-side with Matt Kenseth, but then makes the move on the inside and takes over second.

Lap 258 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is confident he can make it to the end.

Lap 257 -- Tony Stewart's lead is 3.4 seconds over Matt Kenseth. Jimmie Johnson is hovering in third.

Lap 256 -- Jimmie Johnson is closing on Matt Kenseth for the second spot.

Lap 255 -- Matt Kenseth is going into full-on fuel conservation mode.

Lap 254 -- The top six with 12 laps to go: Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Lap 253 -- Tony Stewart regains the lead as Martin Truex Jr. hits pit road for fuel and two tires.

Lap 252 -- Martin Truex Jr. is going to pit the next time around.

Lap 251 -- Martin Truex Jr. is back to the lead, but fuel is still a question mark for him. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is running seventh.

Lap 250 -- Tony Stewart isn't sure how hard he wants to race Martin Truex Jr., who's second but not in the Chase.

Lap 248 -- Martin Truex Jr. might not have the fuel to make it to the end of the race, but he's closing on Tony Stewart.

Lap 247 -- Brad Keselowski is running 11th.

Lap 246 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. has moved past Paul Meanrd for eighth.

Lap 245 -- Martin Truex Jr. is back up to second, .7 seconds behind Tony Stewart.

Lap 242 -- Matt Kenseth has fallen nearly a second behind Tony Stewart. As of right now, Kevin Harvick would hold the points lead by two over Matt Kenseth.

Lap 240 -- Kevin Harvick is running fifth, with fellow Chasers Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards behind him. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has taken over ninth from Kyle Busch.

Lap 239 -- Tony Stewart's lead is more than a half-second.

Lap 237 -- Tony Stewart achieved his goal and moved to the lead. Matt Kenseth lets him go to save some of his fuel.

Lap 236 -- Tony Stewart is running the inside line and tracking down Matt Kenseth. Kurt Busch is up to 11th and Brad Keselowski is up to 12th.

Lap 234 -- Kurt Busch has dropped to 12th. Brad Keselowski is back up to 14th.

Lap 232 -- Kyle Busch is trying to hold on to ninth against Dale Earnhardt Jr. while Tony Stewart is making a charge for the lead.

Lap 230 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets past Kurt Busch for a spot in the top 10. Busch is not a happy camper.

Lap 229 -- Tony Stewart also gets past Martin Truex Jr., and Jimmie Johnson is closing.

Lap 228 -- Matt Kenseth gets around Martin Truex Jr. to regain the lead.

Lap 227 -- Here comes Dale Earnhardt Jr. He's up to 12th.

Lap 226 -- Martin Truex Jr.'s lead is around three-tenths of a second.

Lap 225 -- Tony Stewart is battling Matt Kenseth for second place after getting away from Jimmie Johnson.

Lap 223 -- The race remains green, but Denny Hamlin is on pit road after blowing a left front tire. That puts him two laps off the pace.

Lap 222 -- Sorry for doubting you, Martin Truex Jr. He continues to lead.

Lap 221 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. passes Jeff Gordon for 13th. Jimmie Johnson is closing on Tony Stewart for third.

Lap 220 -- Martin Truex Jr. is back to the lead. He's about two-tenths of a second ahead of Matt Kenseth.

Lap 219 -- Matt Kenseth takes the lead just before the flag.

Lap 218 -- Martin Truex Jr. is trying to hold off Matt Kenseth for the lead, but the decision to stay out might not have been the best.

Lap 217 -- GREEN FLAG: Martin Truex Jr. leads the field to green, the lone non-Chase driver in the top five. There are only three of the non-Chasers in the top 14, including Mark Martin.

Lap 214 -- The leaders hit pit road for what should be their final stop. Martin Truex Jr., who was running sixth, stayed out. Jimmie Johnson took fuel only, as did Tony Stewart. Ryan Newman takes fuel, and Matt Kenseth too. Matt Kenseth picked up three spots on pit road and beat Tony Stewart on the exit.

Lap 213 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 6: The cautions flies for debris in Turn 1. Kasey Kahne gets the free pass.

Lap 212 -- The top five cars are Chasers, then positions 9-13 are all Chasers. In between are Martin Truex Jr., Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer.

Lap 211 -- It's an SHR party up front again, with Tony Stewart in the lead and Ryan Newman running second. Kurt Busch drops to eighth, with Paul Menard moving to seventh.

Lap 210 -- Martin Truex Jr. is up to sixth, the top non-Chase driver.

Lap 209 -- Matt Kenseth bobbles and Tony Stewart grabs the lead.

Lap 208 -- GREEN FLAG: Matt Kenseth is back in front of the field after starting on the pole. Kyle Busch lost five spots on that stop, another poor effort for the No. 18 crew.

Lap 205 -- The leaders are on pit road. It's four tires for all of them. Matt Kenseth takes the lead off pit road.

Lap 204 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 5: J.J. Yeley brings out the caution after getting into the wall. Marcos Ambrose should pick up the free pass.

Lap 203 -- Brad Keselowski is running 21st, the second car one lap down. Jeff Gordon is up to 14th.

Lap 201 -- Tony Stewart continues to close the gap steadily, and he's got time enough not to rush it.

Lap 200 -- It's Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick running in the top seven spots. Carl Edwards has climbed back into the top 10.

Lap 198 -- Jimmie Johnson's lead is down to 2.9 seconds over Tony Stewart.

Lap 197 -- Brad Keselowski heads to the pits.

Lap 196 -- That puts all four RCR cars in the top 14. Kevin Harvick is sixth, Paul Menard 12th, Clint Bowyer 13th and Jeff Burton 14th.

Lap 195 -- Jeff Burton passes Dale Earnhardt Jr. for that 14th spot.

Lap 194 -- Brad Keselowski is saying he's a "7 or 8" in terms of looseness coming off the turns. He's still running third, but is obviously shorter than the rest of the leaders on fuel.

Lap 193 -- Kevin Harvick has gotten around Kurt Busch for sixth.

Lap 192 -- Chad Knaus said it gets tougher every year. Yeah, it really looks like Jimmie Johnson is struggling. This all feels so ... familiar.

Lap 191 -- Carl Edwards picked up another spot and is up to 11th.

Lap 188 -- Ryan Newman is running fifth, about a half-second ahead of former teammate Kurt Busch.

Lap 187 -- Jimmie Johnson continues to check out on the field. He's up 3.6 seconds on second-place Tony Stewart and another 1.5 seconds on third-place Brad Keselowski.

Lap 184 -- Jeff Gordon is slowly making up room. He's up to 18th and is running between Regan Smith and Joey Logano. Denny Hamlin is still toiling back in 25th, the fourth car one lap down.

Lap 183 -- Carl Edwards has gotten past Clint Bowyer to reclaim 12th place.

Lap 182 -- Brad Keselowski is continuing to slide, now 4.1 seconds off the lead.

Lap 180 -- Jimmie Johnson's lead has grownt o more than three seconds. Tony Stewart has taken over second place from Brad Keselowski. Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch are battling for seventh.

Lap 178 -- Kyle Busch gets past Kevin Harvick for seventh. He's climbing steadily. The next car for him? Kurt Busch, his older brother.

Lap 177 -- Brad Keselowski is still in second after staying out of the pits, but he's lost 2.5 seconds to leader Jimmie Johnson.

Lap 176 -- Kyle Busch gets past Menard for the eighth spot.

Lap 175 -- Kyle Busch is up to ninth, leaving Paul Menard as the lone non-Chase driver in the top 10.

Lap 174 -- Carl Edwards has fallen to 13th, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. is running 14th.

Lap 172 -- Not for nothing, but live points have ol' Five Time in the provisional points lead. One point ahead of Kevin Harvick, who's running seventh.

Lap 171 -- Kyle Busch has climbed up to 10th, with Carl Edwards sliding back to 12th.

Lap 170 -- Marcos Ambrose made contact with the outside wall, but the race remains under green.

Lap 169 -- Jimmie Johnson didn't need much to get past Brad Keselowski and take over the lead. Tony Stewart is up to third.

Lap 168 -- GREEN FLAG: Brad Keselowski leads the field to green.

Lap 167 -- Juan Montoya is serving a penalty for something that happened during his pit stop.

Lap 166 -- Brad Keselowski is the leader after staying out. Behind him are Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards. Kevin Harvick is down to ninth, but Kyle Busch is up to 12th.

Lap 165 -- The leaders are on pit road. Jimmie Johnson is taking right-sides only and gets an air-pressure adjustment. Two tires for Tony Stewart and a slight air pressure adjustment. Ryan Newman, somewhat surprisingly, takes two tires again to save the position he had made up. The top 10 cars all took two tires.

Lap 164 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 4: Sorry, Jamie McMurray. After saying he'd been running well all day, the No. 1 car brings out the caution with his engine letting go. We'll see how Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch do here.

Lap 163 -- Jimmie Johnson takes the lead by passing Ryan Newman. Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch are trying to figure out how they can handle pit road without having to get into any more conflicts.

Lap 161 -- Jimmie Johnson has gotten past Tony Stewart and is up to second. He's .4 seconds behind Ryan Newman.

Lap 159 -- Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray are running eighth and ninth, respectively, and have been in or near the top 10 all day.

Lap 158 -- Jeff Gordon is the first car one lap down, running 22nd.

Lap 157 -- Carl Edwards restarted second but is now running fifth, one spot ahead of his teammate, Matt Kenseth.

Lap 156 -- Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. continue to trade spots, with Keselowski moving back into 13th.

Lap 155 -- Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch are running third and fourth, but there's more than a second between them.

Lap 154 -- Kyle Busch has made up two spots from his poor pit stop. He's running 17th.

Lap 153 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. passes Brad Keselowski for 13th. Tony Stewart is nearly a half-second behind Ryan Newman for the lead.

Lap 152 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is running 14th, one spot behind Brad Keselowski.

Lap 151 -- Tony Stewart went high and took over second after restarting fourth. He's running behind his teammate Ryan Newman.

Lap 150 -- GREEN FLAG: Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards led the field back to green.

Lap 149 -- Unsurprisingly, Tony Stewart is not that patient with other guys on the track.

Lap 148 -- The top seven cars are now Chasers. Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick. Kyle Busch, who had been running in the top eight, is now scored as 19th.

Lap 147 -- The leaders are on pit road. Carl Edwards takes four tires. Jimmie Johnson gets four tires and a track-bar adjustment. Tony Stewart takes four tires and no changes. Kurt Busch takes four tires. Matt Kenseth takes wedge out and air pressure back in. Ryan Newman took two tires and gained five spots.

Lap 145 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 3: The caution has come out for debris on the backstretch. Jeff Burton, who had just gone one lap down, takes the free pass.

Lap 143 -- Juan Montoya is running as the first car one lap down.

Lap 141 -- A quick "back of the Chase pack" update. Jeff Gordon is running 25th, one lap down and between A.J. Allmendinger and Trevor Bayne. Denny Hamlin is running 33rd, two laps down between David Reutimann and Casey Mears.

Lap 139 -- Matt Kenseth has dropped to seventh after losing fifth to Kyle Busch and sixth to Ryan Newman.

Lap 138 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is dropping slightly, down to 17th.

Lap 137 -- Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch are battling for fifth.

Lap 136 -- Jamie McMurray is up to ninth, nearly one second behind eighth-place Kevin Harvick.

Lap 135 -- Jimmie Johnson is closing faster now, with the lead down to 1.8 seconds.

Lap 134 -- Ahoy! We are now official, ye mateys! No Tuesday racing this week!

Lap 132 -- The top eight drivers are all Chasers: Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick.

Lap 131 -- Martin Truex Jr. has climbed up to 13th, running between David Ragan and Clitn Bowyer.

Lap 130 -- Jimmie Johnson is slowly but surely tracking down Carl Edwards, but it's slow indeed. The lead is approximately 2.6 seconds.

Lap 129 -- Denny Hamlin is now two laps down.

Lap 128 -- Tony Stewart is up to fourth, but there's a three-second gap between him and third-place Kurt Busch.

Lap 126 -- Greg Biffle is back on pit road, taking a track bar adjustment and getting four new tires after his earlier issues.

Lap 125 -- Carl Edwards has opened up a three-second lead.

Lap 124 -- Paul Menard is the top non-Chase driver, running in ninth.

Lap 123 -- Jimmie Johnson is up to second, having gotten around Kurt Busch.

Lap 121 -- Shiver me timbers! There are clouds gathering, but we're just 12 laps from official.

Lap 120 -- Tony Stewart is up to fifth. Brad Keselowski is running 11th.

Lap 118 -- Carl Edwards leads with Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson running hard for second. Time to see if they live up to their promises of moving forward.

Lap 117 -- Air pressure goes back into right rear for Matt Kenseth, who also takes four tires and fuel in less than 13 seconds. Ryan Newman stayed out for his bonus point, but takes four tires and an air pressure adjustment. Carl Edwards is back to the lead.

Lap 116 -- Carl Edwards takes four tires, and Kurt Busch does as well. he took an air pressure adjustment in his left rear. Jimmie Johnson takes four tires and fuel.

Lap 115 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. hits the pits for his next stop. Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart are on pit road. Stewart takes four tires and says it's a slight bit tight. Harvick took four tires and said the car is getting better and better.

Lap 114 -- Jimmie Johnson has gotten around Kurt Busch and taken over second. He's still two seconds behind leader Carl Edwards.

Lap 112 -- Green flag pit stops are continuing. Clint Bowyer and David Ragan have hit the pits.

Lap 110 -- Jeff Gordon (29th) hit the pits and has fallen two laps off the lead. Denny Hamlin is running 33rd and is the last car one lap down.

Lap 109 -- Kevin Harvick is running eighth, but he's nearly eight seconds off the lead.

Lap 106 -- As usual, the lead car has checked out on the field. Carl Edwards, after battling Kurt Busch for several laps for the lead, is now out front by more than a second.

Lap 104 -- Carl Edwards grabs the lead and gets his bonus point as well. Kyle Busch is running fifth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is making a move and is up to 12th after getting around his former driver, Brad Keselowski.

Lap 103 -- Carl Edwards is making another attempt at the lead, running to the inside of Kurt Busch.

Lap 102 -- Carl Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne were singing as Edwards momentarily took the lead, but they didn't lead at the start/finish line.

Lap 101 -- Carl Edwards is closing in on the lead.

Lap 99 -- Greg Biffle has some major issues, causing a bubble in his tire that Goodyear reps say they've never seen. There are concerns for his car going forward.

Lap 98 -- The top two remain unchanged. Kurt Busch is out front, and Carl Edwards is comfortably running in second.

Lap 96 -- Avast, mateys! Dale Earnhardt Jr. has climbed to 13th.

Lap 95 -- The top eight spots are all held by Chase drivers. Cream rises to the top, indeed.

Lap 93 -- Kurt Busch's lead over Carl Edwards is around six-tenths of a second. Jimmie Johnson is another nearly two seconds back.

Lap 92 -- Ten Chasers are running in the top 14, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. the last of those.

Lap 91 -- Tony Stewart has climbed to seventh. Greg Biffle has hit pit road.

Lap 90 -- Greg Biffle has dropped, running seventh.

Lap 89 -- Carl Edwards is running second and Jimmie Johnson third, trailing leader Kurt Busch.

Lap 88 -- Both Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick have gotten past Jamie McMurray and are running in the top 10.

Lap 87 -- Tony Stewart has gotten past Kevin Harvick for 10th place. Denny Hamlin came out of the pits in 37th and is the seventh car one lap down.

Lap 86 -- Denny Hamlin hits pit road to get all four of his tires changed since he couldn't figure out which side the vibration was coming from.

Lap 82 -- Six of the top seven are Chasers, with only Greg Biffle breaking up the sea of yellow.

Lap 81 -- Kevin Harvick is trying to take 10th away from Marcos Ambrose.

Lap 80 -- Denny Hamlin is complaining of a vibration and says he may have to make an unscheduled pit stop. He's running 17th.

Lap 78 -- Watch out for Kevin Harvick. He's up to 11th, with Tony Stewart in 12th. The top 14 includes nine Chasers.

Lap 77 -- Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle are battling for fourth side-by-side.

Lap 76 -- The lead car, which happens to be Kurt Busch, has opened up a quick lead. Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards both get past Greg Biffle.

Lap 75 -- GREEN FLAG: Jimmie Johnson was the big winner in the pits, picking up three spots to fifth on the restart.

Lap 73 -- Kasey Kahne was busted for speeding and will serve his penalty. Mike Bliss got the wave-around.

Lap 72 -- The leaders hit pit road. An air pressure adjustment and four tires for Greg Biffle. Kyle Busch takes his four tires to stay with the others and goes a half-round down. Kurt Busch gets no changes but four tires. Matt Kenseth puts air pressure back in. Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Paul Menard come off pit road in that order.

Lap 70 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 2: The caution has flown at Chicagoland for debris in Turn 2. Kurt Busch's lead will shrink back down to something manageable.

Lap 67 -- Clint Bowyer is running 12th.

Lap 66 -- Kurt Busch is coasting out in front of the field. Something something making them all walk the plank something.

Lap 64 -- Paul Menard has gotten past Kyle Busch for the fourth spot, and now Ryan Newman is battling for fifth.

Lap 63 -- Jeff Gordon remains the last Chase car in the field, running in 26th. Denny Hamlin is two spots up, the other side of Martin Truex Jr.

Lap 61 -- It's a Chase pile in the field, as Kevin Harvick (16th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (17th) and Tony Stewart (18th) are running in a row.

Lap 59 -- Jeff Burton has dropped back to 13th after his two-tire choice. Kyle Busch lost three spots since restarting in the lead.

Lap 58 -- Both Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch are slowly closing on Greg Biffle, but they still have nearly a second to make up.

Lap 57 -- Matt Kenseth gets past Kyle Busch for that third spot.

Lap 56 -- Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth continue to run near each other as they battle for third.

Lap 55 -- Kurt Busch's lead is now more than two seconds.

Lap 54 -- Jimmie Johnson has climbed up to ninth place and is a second and a half behind David Ragan in eighth.

Lap 52 -- Kevin Harvick is up to 16th, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. one spot behind him.

Lap 50 -- Kurt Busch is continuing to stretch out his lead, now more than 1.5 seconds in front of Greg Biffle.

Lap 48 -- Ryan Newman is running solidly in sixth with a cushion both in front of him and behind him.

Lap 46 -- Kurt Busch's lead is more than one second. Matt Kenseth slid into third-place Kyle Busch.

Lap 45 -- Jeff Burton has fallen out of the top 10. Two tires seem to be working OK for Kyle Busch, but they haven't held on for Burton quite as well.

Lap 43 -- Jimmie Johnson has climbed into the top 10, and Greg Biffle takes second from Kyle Busch.

Lap 42 -- Greg Biffle has moved into third, getting past his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth.

Lap 41 -- Kurt Busch gets around his baby brother for the lead, getting his own shot out front and picking up the bonus point.

Lap 39 -- The Chase rundown: Kyle Busch (first), Kurt Busch (second), Matt Kenseth (third), Ryan Newman (sixth), Carl Edwards (seventh), Jimmie Johnson (12th), Brad Keselowski (14th), Kevin Harvick (18th), Dale EArnhardt Jr. (21st), Tony Stewart (23rd), Denny Hamlin (27th), Jeff Gordon (29th).

Lap 37 -- Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman are battling for sixth, but they're still a second behind the top five.

Lap 36 -- Kyle Busch pulls away just enough, with his older brother following him on the inside of the track. Matt Kenseth holds on to second for that lap, however.

Lap 35 -- GREEN FLAG: Kyle Busch led the field to green, and Jeff Burton has creeped his way up to eighth.

Lap 34 -- And J.J. Yeley heads to the pits, handing the lead and the bonus point to Kyle Busch. The top five for the restart: Busch, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Paul Menard.

Lap 33 -- The leaders have hit pit road. Two tires for Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch gets four tires and fuel hoping for better turns. Matt Kenseth is getting tires and air pressure change. Kyle Busch's two tires push him out of pit road first, with Matt Kenseth following him in second. J.J. Yeley is scored as the leader.

Lap 30 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 1: The competition caution has flown, slowing down the action as teams reconsider what the track is doing and will continue to do. It appears the track has rubbered in well for being so early in the race.

Lap 28 -- Denny Hamlin is the last-place Chase car early in the Geico 400, running in 27th. That's where he started.

Lap 27 -- Clint Bowyer, who just missed the Chase, has picked up four spots to 17th.

Lap 26 -- They're starting the countdown to the competition caution. We should see the cars turn for pit road in about four laps.

Lap 25 -- It's a two-car race, as third-place Greg Biffle is more than one second behind Kurt Busch.

Lap 23 -- Ryan Newman has passed Carl Edwards for fourth place.

Lap 21 -- Kevin Harvick, who entered the race tied in the points with Kyle Busch, has picked up six spots from his disappointing qualifying effort. He's now runnnig solidly in 24th.

Lap 20 -- David Ragan has climbed to 12th and is running between Regan Smith and Joey Logano.

Lap 18 -- Matt Kenseth has stretched his lead to nearly one second over Kurt Busch.

Lap 14 -- Contact between Clint Bowyer and Juan Montoya could portend more fun interviews if one of them is knocked out of the race. Montoya is 17th, A.J. Allmendinger is 18th and Bowyer is 19th.

Lap 12 -- Jimmie Johnson has lost three spots since the start of the race and is circling the track in 15th.

Lap 11 -- Regan Smith is up to 11th and is knocking on the door of the top 10.

Lap 10 -- There are six Chase drivers in the top eight spots, with Greg Biffle (third) and Paul Menard (fourth) the only interlopers.

Lap 8 -- Jamie McMurray has climbed from 14th to 10th and is one second behind ninth-place Brian Vickers.

Lap 7 -- The front of the field has spaced out, with Matt Kenseth's lead over the half-second mark on Kurt Busch.

Lap 5 -- Greg Biffle has gained three spots, starting seventh but is up into the top five.

Lap 4 -- Kurt Busch continues to hold on to second, and has gotten away from the side-by-side racing with Paul Menard.

Lap 3 -- Brad Keselowski has dropped two spots to eighth. Kyle Busch is up to seventh from ninth.

Lap 2 -- Paul Menard dropped to the inside and is battling Kurt Busch to get his second spot back. He failed on that lap.

Lap 1 -- Matt Kenseth checked out to the front and leads Kurt Busch, who took over second.

12:13 p.m. ET -- GREEN FLAG: Matt Kenseth leads the field to green in the Geico 400 alongside Paul Menard. Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five for the start.

12:03 p.m. ET -- The command to start engines is given by the hirsute Geico Caveman. It was a long, drawn-out command, to be sure.

11:58 a.m. ET -- Honorary starter Brian Hughes, Navy Master Chief, is introduced.

11:56 a.m. ET -- The national anthem is performed by Art of Dying.

11:55 a.m. ET -- The invocation is given by Glenn Spoolstra of Raceway Ministries.

11:52 a.m. ET -- There will be a competition caution at Lap 30, as expected. Robby Gordon (engine change) and David Stremme (missed driver intros) move to the rear of the field.

9:27 a.m. ET Monday -- Ahoy, ye landlubbers! It's race day (hopefully) in Joliet, Ill., where it's a balmy 61 degrees. Green flag in the Geico 400 is scheduled for 12:12 p.m. ET, with Matt Kenseth reprising his role as pole-sitter.

8:03 p.m. ET -- Or not. They've postponed the race until noon ET Monday, airing on ESPN. I'll see you guys back here in 16 hours or so. I'll be your eyes and words while you're at work. Be here!

8:00 p.m. ET -- Good news for those of you in the mood for some night racing: There is no curfew, so no time by which NASCAR would need to start the race. With lights there, we could be hanging around for a while while the sanctioning body tries all it can to get this race in.

7:58 p.m. ET -- Track update: The dryers have been shut down again. Apparently the rain is starting to come down heavily.

7:56 p.m. ET -- Television update: If the race is run tonight, it will air on ESPN2. Again, the race is moving to ESPN2 if it gets under way tonight.

7:51 p.m. ET -- This wave of it did move through quickly, and the dryers are getting fueled back up for a second attempt to clean up what did fall.

7:47 p.m. ET -- Confirmed. NASCAR's Steve O'Donnell just tweeted: "Raining again. Just lost track. Only hope now is that it moves thru quick."

7:44 p.m. ET -- Quoting Mr. Caraviello: "Pouring now." Bob Pockrass is reporting the track has been lost. Sadface.

7:31 p.m. ET -- One of our men on the scene, David Caraviello, says there may be a little drizzle starting back up. Stay tuned!

6:18 p.m. ET -- The stands are still largely devoid of fans, who have all likely taken shelter from the rain. The dryers are still out on the track, making big, slow ovals.

5:41 p.m. ET -- I'm closing all entries for the green-flag contest, since I'm about to at least give an idea. If, and that's a big if, the rain stays away, the race is expected to go green somewhere in the 7-7:30 p.m. ET range. So sayeth the official NASCAR Twitter account.

5:01 p.m. ET -- ESPN has left the rain-filled broadcast and taken it back to Bristol for a live SportsCenter. They'll keep an eye on things in Joliet.

4:59 p.m. ET -- As expected, there will be a competition caution on Lap 30.

4:40 p.m. ET -- The jet dryers are on the track! The countdown begins ...

4:23 p.m. ET -- OK, second question: On which lap will the first non-competition caution (assuming there is one) fly? Bonus points if you correctly guess who's involved.

3:36 p.m. ET -- For all the faithful folks already in deep conversation below, and others who haven't started yet, comment below with what time you think the green will fall.

3:19 p.m. ET -- And Jamie McMurray looks like he's heading to a part-time job on the grill. No firesuit for him.

2:51 p.m. ET -- NASCAR president Mike Helton said the fact that Chicagoland has lights will allow NASCAR to be more patient with the decision-making process. He said there's more rain coming, but with the conditions it's looking like about a two-hour drying period for the track.

2:47 p.m. ET -- Interestingly, Carl Edwards just said there's really not that much people can take away from Chicagoland to apply to the other 1.5-mile tracks.

2:17 p.m. ET -- Plenty of driver features and interviews being done on the ESPN broadcast. The bad sign is Tony Stewart is still in the motorhome lot. Good news is he's in his firesuit.

1:44 p.m. ET -- Drivers are gathered at the stage while track dryers are still on the track. The showers are scattered, so hopefully they avoid the speedway.

1:17 p.m. ET -- Track dryers are on the track, which is good. But driver intros have been pushed back 20 minutes, to 1:35 p.m. ET. Everything is being done to get this race in as soon as possible.

9:20 a.m. ET -- It's a ... well, not so great Sunday morning. NASCAR officials have moved up the start of the Geico 400 by 15 minutes (to 2:03 p.m. ET) since the weather forecast has a 70 percent chance of rain today for the greater Chicagoland area. So keep your fingers crossed, do your anti-rain dance, and let's get this Chase under way. Matt Kenseth will lead the field to green, right alongside Paul Menard. And if that's not enough to get your juices flowing, remember that tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day. I can't promise some of it won't sneak into this Lap-by-Lap. Consider yourselves warned.