Matt Kenseth opened NASCARs version of the playoffs with a victory in Chicago last weekend. The race was delayed for more than 5 hours, racing more than ½ of it under the lights, but in the end, the number one seed took the checkered flag.
The Chase started with a bit more controversy when Jeff Gordon was a late addition to the playoff field, because they felt it was the right thing to do under the circumstances. Therefore Gordon was added as the 13th driver to the field.
On the track, it was just solid racing by the Joe Gibbs cars, with Kyle Busch and Kenseth battling throughout the evening. With 22 laps remaining, Kenseth would pull away from Busch and never look back.
Kevin Harvick was third, Kurt Busch was fourth and Jimmie Johnson ended up fifth.
Finishing sixth through 10th were: Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman.
Joey Logano led early and would look like the car to beat, but after the long delay, Logano restarted and blew his engine, ending his day and will make it very hard for him to have a shot at the championship.
Dale Earnhardt would also lose an engine late and finish 35th. Logano and Earnhardt are both over 50 points behind Kenseth or more than one full race.
Nine races remain with the next stop being New Hampshire this weekend.
*** Montoya back to Indy ***
Juan Pablo Montoya has announced that he will return to open wheel racing next year with Penske. This has opened the rumor mill about the possibility of him driving in the Indy 500 and then flying to Charlotte to drive the 600 on Memorial Day next year.
*** Nationwide leaving NASCAR at series sponsor ***
The other major news this week, was that Nationwide will no longer be the title sponsor of the lower racing division. This will happen at the end of the 2014 season. The company does plan to still be heavily involved in racing sponsorship, just not at the title sponsor. NASCAR has already started looking for a replacement sponsor.
*** New Hampshire Preview ***
Look for Jeff Gordon to run a top 10, trying to prove he deserves a shot at the title. Both Busch brothers should be strong, I actually think Kurt may finally put together a perfect race and find victory lane. Penske drivers Keselowski and Logano always driver well here as well.