There is definitely something different about starting the chase at Chicagoland. But I'm all for shaking things up a little bit so lets do it. It's not as if we have a choice anyway.
"I'm excited. I love change," said Kevin Harvick, the second seeded driver in the chase. "I think we should change it up every year. Chicago is a great city. There's a lot going on Chicago this weekend as we go there to start the Chase and I'm looking forward to it."
Five time champion Jimmie Johnson agrees. "Really excited for it. I think the Chicago area and the race track is going to be a great host for the start of the Chase."
But kicking off the chase in Chicago is obviously different then starting things off in New Hampshire. The tracks are very different and could set a different tone at the beginning of these 10 very important weeks of racing. It's a mile and a half, which is the type of track that makes up the majority of the chase. It should give us a better idea right off the bat who will be strong in this seasons playoffs.
“There couldn’t be a better track to go to for the first race of the Chase than Chicago," said Carl Edwards, who will start the chase seeded 5th. "Since it’s a day race this time hopefully it will be hot and slick, it will be a lot of fun and a tough race.”
Of the ten previous races at Chicagoland, members of this years chase have one 8 of them lead by Kevin Harvick who has won twice. Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch have also won at the Joliet track. But when you look at the 12 drivers in the chase, all of them a pretty accomplished on 1.5 milers.
"I think that track position is a little bit more important this year than it was last year," said Denny Hamlin, who is 12th in the standings. "It's just a steadily evolving -- these cars, we're getting them so good now that everyone is so equal. I think that the pit crews and the crew chief has a bigger role in this year's Chase than what they did in years past. So, it 's not all about having the fastest car and the best driver. There's a big strategy part that plays out in each and every race. It seems like it's happening more this year than what it has in years past."
Which means any race could be a wild card this season.