After 26 weeks of regular-season action, the Sprint Cup Series kicks off its version of the playoffs this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.
For 12 drivers, this race marks the first of a 10-week-long fight for the championship. For the rest of the field, it is an opportunity to play the role of spoiler and try to steal some of the headlines by scoring a win at one of NASCAR's newest stops.
The first race of the Chase is always an important one. For the 12 championship contenders, it is important to get the playoffs started on the right foot. Any problems and a driver could leave Chicago with a huge points deficit to overcome.
Racing oneself out of championship contention after one week is something that no driver wants to deal with.
So who are the drivers to keep the closest eye on, and which stories are making the most news? Join us as we break it all down and get you set for the opening weekend of the playoffs, NASCAR style.