|Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson keeping Kenseth in sight|
The bell has rung on the first round of the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™.
Standing in this corner … winner Matt Kenseth, one of three big favorites heading into NASCAR’s postseason. The other two favorites – Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson – aren’t too far behind.
Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. hope to use Sunday’s SYLVANIA 300 (2 p.m. ET ESPN, PRN Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio) as the first step in their separate recovery plans after tough finishes at Chicagoland have both drivers hoping for better luck.
While Logano and Earnhardt look to rebound, Denny Hamlin is looking to steal the spotlight by finding Victory Lane at a track where’s he’s previously found success.
Sam Hornish Jr. continues to roll along in the lead in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, with Austin Dillon following closely behind, heading into the final standalone of the season at Kentucky Speedway.
When the truck series returns in two weeks at Las Vegas, five drivers will make their track debut in the series, while three other drivers will be looking to tie Rick Crawford for the most starts at the 1.5-mile track.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES – SYLVANIA 300, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2 P.M. ET ON ESPN
Three Chase Favorites Still Standing Strong After Round One
Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch began the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as the prohibitive favorites to claim the championship title. After one race, the trio remains at the top of the leaderboard with Kenseth adding a season-high sixth win to his resume. Johnson and Busch finished fifth and second, respectively, at Chicagoland. In the standings, Busch is eight points behind Kenseth, while Johnson sits three markers further back.
Though The Hill May Be Steep There’s Still Hope
Engine troubles ended Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Joey Logano’s night early at Chicagoland. Logano bowed out on lap 175 (37th) while Earnhardt stopped running after lap 224 (35th), dropping the two drivers to 12th and 13th in the standings. While there might be some cause for alarm, they should find solace in that in 2006 Jimmie Johnson finished the first Chase race 39th and fell to ninth in the standings only to rebound to capture his first title.
Could Hamlin Play Spoiler This Weekend?
For the first time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career Denny Hamlin is on the outside of the Chase looking in. While the two-time New Hampshire race winner isn’t in a position to seek the championship title, expect him to be gunning for the win this Sunday in the SYLVANIA 300. In 15 starts at the 1.058-mile speedway, Hamlin has captured two victories and three runner-up finishes, including a win in this event last season.