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. Vettel: Pole position not possible today

    Jul 26, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Qualifying Getty Images

    Defending world champion matches his best qualifying result of the season in Hungary.

  2. Alonso: P5 much better than what we expect

    Jul 26, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT

    Hungary F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Ferrari driver delighted to qualify so well at the Hungaroring, and is now focusing on a good start in tomorrow’s race.

  3. Sprint Cup final practice underway, running until 11 a.m. ET (UPDATED)

    Jul 26, 2014, 10:29 AM EDT

    Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Track-drying procedures are ongoing but NASCAR is aiming to get cars on the track around 10:15-10:20 a.m. ET for an abbreviated final Sprint Cup practice session.

  4. Rosberg nails final Q3 lap to take fifth pole in six races

    Jul 26, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

    Nico Rosberg AP

    German driver would have preferred a straight fight with Lewis Hamilton, but delighted all the same to bag pole in Hungary.

  5. Rosberg beats rain, red flags and Vettel for Hungary pole

    Jul 26, 2014, 9:10 AM EDT

    Hungary F1 GP Auto Racing

    Crazy qualifying session in Hungary ends with Rosberg at the front once again.

  6. VIDEO: Hamilton’s qualifying goes up in flames after engine fire

    Jul 26, 2014, 8:43 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Qualifying Getty Images

    An engine fire sees Hamilton’s hopes of a first pole since the Spanish Grand Prix go up in flames.

  7. WATCH LIVE: Hungarian GP Qualifying; Hamilton seeks first pole since Spain

    Jul 26, 2014, 7:45 AM EDT

    Hungary F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Can Hamilton secure his first pole position since the Spanish Grand Prix today?

  8. Sebastian Vettel “absolutely committed” to Red Bull

    Jul 26, 2014, 7:15 AM EDT

    Hungary F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Red Bull boss Christian Horner has no doubts about the future of his star driver.

  9. F1 teams to follow FIA’s lead for Russian Grand Prix

    Jul 26, 2014, 6:30 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Practice Getty Images

    Boycott of the race in Sochi this October seems unlikely.

  10. Hamilton completes his clean sweep in Hungary FP3

    Jul 26, 2014, 6:02 AM EDT

    Lewis Hamilton AP

    Clean sweep of practices for Hamilton, but Rosberg is still hanging onto his teammate’s coattails.

  11. WATCH LIVE: FP3 for the Hungarian Grand Prix

    Jul 26, 2014, 4:45 AM EDT

    Hungary F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Lewis Hamilton looks to continue his clean sweep of practice in Hungary.

  12. Kyle Busch sweeps past John Hunter Nemechek on final turn to win ARCA CRA late-model event

    Jul 26, 2014, 1:14 AM EDT

    kyle busch nh Getty Images

    BROWNSBURG, Ind. – In an exciting finish that featured plenty of beating and banging, Kyle Busch waited until the final turn of the final lap to get by John Hunter Nemechek and win Friday night’s ARCA CRA Super Series Circle City 100 late-model event at Lucas Oil Raceway.

  13. IMSA: Action Express dominates Indy; Hawksworth wins on debut

    Jul 25, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT

    AxIMSWin Getty Images

    Action Express wins Indy; RSR, Viper and Ferrari the other TUDOR Championship class winners.

  14. Red Bull GRC enters heart of stock car country for season’s 5th event

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    GRCLogo

    After Tanner Foust emerged as the victor of a riotous final in New York, the beat goes on for Red Bull GRC this weekend with a trip to The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

  15. NASCAR America: Jimmie Johnson easy pick for Brickyard

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT

    2014 brickyard 400 logo

    On Friday’s edition, the NASCAR America crew discussed the favorites for Sunday’s Brickyard 400. And not surprisingly, Jimmie Johnson is the easy pick — but there are a few other drivers who could contend.

  16. NASCAR America: Jimmie Johnson looking for fifth Brickyard win

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:26 PM EDT

    AAA 400 - Qualifying Getty Images

    On Friday’s edition of NASCAR America, Sam Hornish Jr. joined Leigh Diffey to discuss Jimmie Johnson’s quest for his fifth Brickyard 400 win. Hornish noted that Johnson’s first win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a positive turning point for his team.

  17. NASCAR America: Clint Bowyer talks keys to winning Chase

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:17 PM EDT

    (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Getty Images

    On Friday’s NASCAR America, Clint Bowyer talked about handling Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s 21st annual Brickyard 400, as well as his teams’ improvement and his hopes of getting into and winning the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

  18. Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power go looking for fun, wind up with ‘Sex Tape’

    Jul 25, 2014, 5:42 PM EDT

    sex tape

    After a long day of testing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Penske Racing teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power went to see a movie Wednesday in Mansfield, Ohio. Check out Montoya’s hilarious tale about what they saw.

  19. Kurt Busch: No talks yet on a second Indy-Charlotte double

    Jul 25, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Kurt Busch AP

    “Every day I wake up and I’m like, ‘Yes, let’s do it again.’ Then there are thoughts of ‘I finished sixth, that’s pretty special.’ I don’t know if I could achieve that result again.” – Outlaw

  20. Brickyard owes Juan Pablo Montoya one, but will it pay off Sunday?

    Jul 25, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) AP

    INDIANAPOLIS – Juan Pablo Montoya has twice come close to winning the Brickyard 400, only to suffer maladies that kept him from kissing the finish line bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in celebration.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

More from NASCAR America

What makes Brickyard 400 unique?

Featured video

Inside the Hungarian GP
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. B. Jones (633)
  2. K. Larson (632)
  3. J. Townley (615)
  4. E. Jones (614)
  5. J. Gordon (609)