FYI WIRZ: NASCAR's Chase Playoffs Pick Up First Speed Going into Chicago

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FYI WIRZ: NASCAR's Chase Playoffs Pick Up First Speed Going into Chicago
Matt Kenseth walks through the NASCAR garage at Daytona. Credit: Dwight Drum

NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs fire up Sunday, Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., on the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval with 18-degree banking.

NASCAR teams will take to fast track near Chicago after record penalties, fines and unprecedented Chase alterations after Richmond. It will be interesting to see what repercussions, if any, will follow during the NASCAR playoffs.

MLB has had spitballs, altered bats and drug enhancement to taint their history. NFL has had players faking injuries on the field. Also, the press has covered frequency of drug use and other criminal behavior that has too often bothered players in the popular sport of professional football. Similar comments often describe NBA and many other professional sports.

Yet, their games go on.

So much is at stake; the edge to get wins and championships gets a focus that sometimes breaches honesty. That's one reality not likely to lessen, even if most won't go over the line for fear of harsh retaliation.

Whether the track infraction and NASCAR's publicized reaction will cause some sponsors to pull support remains to be seen, and perhaps deeply felt.

For now, the next green flag is about to drop for the NASCAR playoffs.

NASCAR drivers and teams will persevere, but obvious spinning or wrecking won't likely be a preferred method of strategy.

On an upbeat note, top drivers in the Chase recently had comments about racing Chicagoland that might be of interest to loyal fans.

Matt Kenseth, the new NSCS point leader, shared his thoughts on the Chase.

“You don’t want to have any bad races,” Kenseth said. “Certainly, don’t want to have a bad first one, but you don’t want to have any bad ones. You want to start strong and finish strong.”

Jimmie Johnson slipped to second in points, but in doing so maybe he and the No. 48 team have gotten the bad luck of the last four races out of the way. He looks forward to this weekend.

Chad (Knaus, crew chief) is from the area,” Johnson said. “We really want to get a win for him. We’ve been close. Hopefully, we can seal the deal this weekend. It would obviously be a great way to start the Chase.”

Johnson defined Chase action.

“The Chase is so different than anything else," he said. "You're only racing 12 guys, not 43. So things change a lot."

Kyle Busch is accustomed to up and down moments during the regular season and past Chase competition as well, but maybe this 2013 Chase will be different for him.

“Every year your first focus is to win races and make the Chase”, Busch said. “This year there’s a greater satisfaction of being included in the Chase and knowing and that you have a chance to race for the rest of the year to contend for a championship.”

Kevin Harvick continues to defy expectations with the team he won't be driving for in 2014.

"I really like tracks like Chicagoland where the surface is a bit worn out, because it makes for better racing,” Harvick said. “We were fortunate to win the first couple of races here, so Chicagoland has been a good track for us and fans following, too.”

Carl Edwards has earned momentum with his win last week at Richmond and hopes to continue it.

"Chicago’s a great race track for us,” Edwards said. “We’re going to Chicago for one thing and that’s to get the most points that we can. All of the drama of Richmond is behind us; it’s a new season basically.”

Kyle Busch walks on pit road in Daytona. Credit: Dwight Drum

Fans not in one of the 70,000 seats can view the action at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN.

FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.

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