The 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins at Chicagoland Speedway this Sunday, Sept. 16th. ESPN will have a live telecast of the 400-mile race on the 1.5-mile track.
NASCAR Countdown: 1:00pm/et
TV Coverage: 2 p.m. EST, ESPN with green flag approx. 2:16pm/et
NSCS Practices: Friday at 1:00 pm/et and 4:00pm/et on ESPN2
NSCS Qualifying: 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday on SPEED
ESPN2′s daily NASCAR news and information program NASCAR Now will expand its schedule with a weekly one-hour weekend wrap-up program coinciding with the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The first edition airs Sunday night, Sept. 16, at 11:30 pm/et. NASCAR Now will preview that day’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway in the one-hour edition that airs earlier that day at 8:00am/et.
Remember, points have been reset. Here’s the following seeded points standings as we start the Chase:
1 Denny Hamlin 2012
2 Jimmie Johnson 2009
3 Tony Stewart 2009
4 Brad Keselowski 2009
5 Greg Biffle 2006
6 Clint Bowyer 2006
7 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2003
8 Matt Kenseth 2003
9 Kevin Harvick 2000
10 Martin Truex Jr. 2000
11 Kasey Kahne 2000
12 Jeff Gordon 2000
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin enters this year’s Chase as the No. 1 seed with 2,012 points. The No. 1 seed has gone on to capture the NASCAR Sprint Cup title just twice: Jimmie Johnson in 2007 and Tony Stewart in 2005.
Competitors from seven different teams have qualified including all four of Hendrick Motorsport drivers Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne. Roush Fenway Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing each have two drivers in the Chase field with Richard Childress Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing bringing one each. This year marks the first time Earnhardt has qualified for back-to-back Chases. His 17 top-10 finishes is his best (previous 16, 2008) since joining HMS.
Four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions are part of this year’s Chase: Johnson (five titles), Gordon (four), Stewart (three) and Matt Kenseth (one). Each of the 12 drivers has been a Chase participant in previous seasons although Clint Bowyer, Kahne, Martin Truex Jr. and Greg Biffle (No. 5, 2,006 points) failed to qualify in 2011.
Four-time champion Gordon, a one-time regular season winner, edged Kyle Busch for the second of two Wild Cards by just three points. With Stewart preserving a top-10 ranking (10th), Kahne’s two victories claimed the other Wild Card spot. Gordon is in the Chase for the eighth time, missing only the 2005 season. This will be Kahne’s first Chase since 2009 when he finished 10th in final standings.
Danica Patrick will make her NSCS debut this Sunday behind the wheel of the No. 10 Chevrolet. This will be her sixth NSCS start with finishes of 29th in her past two races at Bristol and Atlanta. Her best NNS finish at Chicagoland Speedway is 10th in 2011.
Kid Rock, who has been a fan of NASCAR for more than a decade, will narrate and appear in the opening teases of the telecasts of the 10 races, with each tease tailored to the racetrack hosting that week’s event. Kid Rock’s music will be featured throughout the campaign, including sneak peeks at his yet-to-be-titled new album and hits from his catalog. Also known for his philanthropy, Kid Rock is especially connected to the U.S. military and is a regular supporter of Operation Homefront, the USO and Operation Finally Home, all organizations to assist members of the armed forces and their families.