Chase For Sprint Cup Title Begins Sunday In Chicago
And they’re off on a 10-race run to determine this year’s Sprint Cup champion. Sunday's 400-mile race at Chicagoland Speedway starts the Chase for the Sprint Cup title.
Just 12 points separate top-seed Denny Hamlin from 12th-place Jeff Gordon. Last year’s champion Tony Stewart is three points back of Hamlin. Last year, Stewart started the Chase as the ninth seed and hadn’t even won a race, but Chicago was where he finally broke thru when he gambled on fuel and held off Kevin Harvick in the closing laps to claim his first victory of the season. Stewart won again the following week at New Hampshire.
Stewart went on to win at Martinsville, Texas and the season-ending race at Homestead. He finished the Chase in a points tie with Carl Edwards but won the championship on a tiebreaker because of his five wins.
Stewart is the only driver in the postseason that has won at every Chase track. He leads all drivers with three victories at Chicagoland.
Gordon, Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are the only other Chase drivers who’ve won at Chicagoland in the past.
Gordon raced his way into a slot in the Chase with his second-place finish at Richmond edging out Kyle Busch. He says a lot can happen over 10 races. If he wins on Sunday, that’s great. If he ends up in the Top 10 that’s good too.
Denny Hamlin has been on a roll. He won at Bristol and then Atlanta. He dominated most of the race at Richmond, leading 202 of the first 300
laps. But pit strategy during the final 100 laps put him out of contention and he finished 18th. His best finish in six races at Chicagoland is fifth, three years ago.
Michael Waltrip Racing finally has two entries in the Chase for the first time in six years. Martin Truex, Jr and Clint Bowyer give Waltrip a one in six chance of winning it all.