Skip to content

Questions to ponder as the Chase begins – finally

Sep 15, 2013, 12:00 PM EDT

GEICO 400 Getty Images

Clint Bowyer’s fateful spin with seven laps to go last Saturday night at Richmond began one of the most tumultuous weeks in the history of NASCAR.

And as the sanctioning body scrambled to restore credibility in the eyes of its fans – twice altering its post-season field in the span of five days – surely there was a moment where everyone involved surveyed it all and inwardly sighed.

“Sunday can’t come soon enough.”

Well, folks, Sunday is here. And so is a Chase that, before it has officially begun, is already unlike any other we’ve seen in its 10-year run as the Sprint Cup Series’ post-season system.

The first battleground: The 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway, the kind of bread-and-butter intermediate track that makes up the majority of the Chase schedule. What we see today outside the Windy City could very well show who will have the edge this fall and who’s gonna have to dig a little deeper.

As NASCAR’s big stretch run to the championship begins today, questions are plentiful about a Chase that feels very tough to predict:

    • After a stellar regular season with five victories (three of which came on those all-important 1.5-mile ovals), can top seed Matt Kenseth cap off what has been his most competitive season to date with a second Cup title – and his first in the Chase format?
    • Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 crew hit the skids heading into the Chase with four straight finishes of 28th or worse. Can one of the sport’s most dominant squads find their groove again when it counts?
    • Kyle Busch has been very strong this year, racking up both wins and consistently high results. Could he be the one that delivers the biggest push for Kenseth, his teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, in the Chase? And if so, what kind of effects would it have on the JGR team as we get closer to the Homestead finale?
    • Kurt Busch has already pulled off a major feat by getting the small Furniture Row Racing team into the Chase. But while he’s got the talent and the pace to make an impact, will his pit crew ultimately help or hurt his chances?
    • The Ford camp seems to have picked up the pace, as evidenced by Carl Edwards’ victory last Saturday at Richmond. But will it be enough to enable Edwards, Greg Biffle and Joey Logano to overcome their Chevy and Toyota rivals?
    • There’s been nothing “lame duck” about Kevin Harvick‘s final campaign with Richard Childress Racing, but can he get R.C. his first Cup title since 1994 (Dale Earnhardt, Sr.) before going off to Stewart-Haas Racing?
    • Prior to Richmond, Logano had been the hottest driver in the garage. But last Saturday was far from his finest hour on the track, and he’s been part of this week’s mayhem. Will that distraction help derail his drive for a title in his first Chase?
    • Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Ryan Newman have had their ups and downs this regular season, and not many are picking them as legitimate title contenders. Can they find the consistency that hasn’t always been there for them in 2013?
    • Now in the playoffs as a 13th Chaser, Jeff Gordon maintains that a fire has been lit under him and the No. 24 team. But he too has been admittedly iffy at times. That said, will he be so inspired by being in the Chase that he’ll have a proper say in its outcome?
    • Finally, there’s Bowyer, the one that started the whole firestorm but is still in the mix for a championship even after the penalties against Michael Waltrip Racing. His question is the same as Logano’s: Will the controversy prove to wear him down? Another valid query: What kind of unholy rage will the NASCAR diehards unleash if Bowyer does do well?

Latest Posts
  1. NASCAR AMERICA: Parity among Chase teams in Eliminator Round (VIDEO)

    Oct 20, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Geico 500 Getty Images

    Six different teams are represented among the eight remaining Chasers, and NASCAR’s post-season is starting to resemble another familiar tournament. NASCAR AMERICA’s Kyle Petty and Jeff Burton discuss.

  2. NASCAR AMERICA: Is Ryan Newman’s Chase status up in the air? (VIDEO)

    Oct 20, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT

    Hollywood Casino 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Newman, one of the “Eliminator 8,” may be penalized tomorrow by NASCAR after his car was found to be too low following Sunday’s race at Talladega. Nate Ryan has more on the situation.

  3. Everything you need to know about the 2014 Chasers at Martinsville

    Oct 20, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 Powered By Kroger Getty Images

    Notes and numbers to keep in mind as the 8 remaining Chasers prepare to begin the Eliminator Round.

  4. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 7 p.m. ET recaps Talladega

    Oct 20, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    nascar america

    Recapping Talladega on NASCAR AMERICA.

  5. Despite elimination, Kyle Busch’s crew chief says Chase format is fair

    Oct 20, 2014, 6:01 PM EDT

    Geico 500 Getty Images

    A great post-season for Busch was erased by a mid-race crash on Sunday at Talladega, but crew chief Dave Rogers says there’s no point in blaming the rules of the new Chase.

  6. Remembering racing legend Raymond Beadle: ‘Once upon a time, I was the best at what I did’

    Oct 20, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    Raymond Beadle, who passed away Monday at the age of 70. (Photo courtesy Dave Rieff, ESPN) Raymond Beadle, who passed away Monday at the age of 70. (Photo courtesy Dave Rieff, ESPN)

    They say they always do things bigger in Texas, and that phrase would perfectly describe legendary former drag racer and NASCAR team owner Raymond Beadle.

  7. Doug Coby earns second NASCAR Whelen Mods title in three years

    Oct 20, 2014, 3:07 PM EDT

    NASCAR Whelen Modfiied Tour - Sunoco World Series 150 presented by Xtra Mart  - Thompson Getty Images

    Coby finishes 17th in the season finale at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway, but earns the 2014 series title by 22 points over race winner Ryan Preece.

  8. 3-time NHRA champ, NASCAR team owner Raymond Beadle dead at 70

    Oct 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Photo courtesy: BlueMaxRacing.net Photo courtesy: BlueMaxRacing.net

    Beadle helped bring the “Blue Max” brand to prominence in drag racing, and guided NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace to his lone Winston Cup title.

  9. DTM champion Marco Wittmann to test for Toro Rosso

    Oct 20, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    WittmannDTM Getty Images

    DTM champion will test for Toro Rosso.

  10. Penske’s dream season still alive in Sprint Cup

    Oct 20, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    PenskeDega Getty Images

    Both of Team Penske’s drivers advance to Eliminator round of Chase, which saves the ignominy of one of the winningest drivers this year going home.

  11. FIA creates accident panel to investigate Jules Bianchi crash

    Oct 20, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ENG-SILVERSTONE Getty Images

    The organization says it will make a full presentation on its findings during the next World Motor Sport Council meeting in December.

  12. Weekend wrap: Brad Keselowski rises up to Talladega challenge

    Oct 20, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    Geico 500 Getty Images

    Love him or loathe him, Keselowski deserves respect for coming through in the clutch like he did on Sunday.

  13. Besides Cassill, several others score season-bests at Talladega

    Oct 20, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

    WaltripDega2 Getty Images

    After Cassill, Kvapil’s sixth leads a quartet of more surprise drivers in top-20 Sunday at Talladega.

  14. Daniel Ricciardo makes a trip to Supercross in Las Vegas (PHOTOS)

    Oct 20, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying Getty Images

    Ricciardo comes to the U.S. early for Supercross.

  15. The irony of a winless driver winning a title in the new Chase still exists

    Oct 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    NewmanKenseth Getty Images

    A potential nightmare situation for Sprint Cup’s new Chase still exists, in the form of two as-yet winless drivers still battling for a title in 2014.

  16. Landon Cassill posts career-best fourth place at Talladega

    Oct 20, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    CassillDega2

    Career day for Landon Cassill ends not only with his first Cup top-five, but first top-10.

Video from NASCAR America

Terry Labonte's milestone race
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. B. Keselowski (1878)
  2. K. Busch (1800)
  3. J. McMurray (1235)
  4. T. Stewart (1179)
  5. J. Gordon (1049)