Motorsports: Chase

"Idiot" Stewart? Big win means no

September, 19, 2011
JOLIET, Ill. -- Tony Stewart is a bumbling idiot.

It had to be said, even if it is a bit premature -- and in jest.

But the two-time Sprint Cup champion said on Thursday that five of the 12 Chase drivers didn't have a chance to win the championship, putting himself at the top of the non-factors because of the way he ran in the regular season. He said if he wins the title then "I'll declare I'm a total bumbling idiot."

What Stewart is -- after Monday's victory at Chicagoland Speedway -- is a championship contender.

The only thing that could have made him a "bumbling idiot" was to run out of fuel on the final lap as several title contenders did, as Stewart did in the Chase opener a year ago at New Hampshire when he had the checkered flag in sight.

Instead, Stewart goes to Sunday's race at New Hampshire (2 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN) with only a seven-point deficit to Kevin Harvick.

Read the entire story.

Postponing race the right call

September, 18, 2011
JOLIET, Ill. -- Chad Knaus stood behind the NASCAR hauler at about 7:40 p.m. ET on Sunday, a steady rain pouring behind him just outside door cover that kept him dry, and said, "Are we done yet?"

It would be about 30 minutes later when the governing body finally postponed the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway to noon ET (ESPN and WatchESPN) on Monday because of rain.

But the frustration already had set in for Knaus, the crew chief for five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson.

It was a frustrating day for a lot of people.

It was frustrating for crew chiefs and crew members who had been in the garage since it opened at 7 a.m. It was frustrating for drivers who instead of beginning their run for the title spent the day cramped up in motorcoaches watching NFL games and movies.

It was a frustrating day for fans who sat rain-soaked in the stands hoping that the race eventually would begin, and for those at home waiting for it to begin on television.

"Just a pain in the ass on everybody," Chase newcomer Brad Keselowski said.

It was.

NASCAR did all it could to get the race in and keep teams from spending money on another day of travel. But in the end, postponing the race, the first time that has happened since the Chase began in 2004, was the right thing to do.

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Chase in Chicago takes backseat to Bears

September, 15, 2011
CHICAGO -- First, I'm not a huge fan of Chicagoland Speedway hosting the first race of the Chase, which NASCAR already has said will happen again next season, too.

The third-largest media market in the country is too wrapped up in the Chicago Bears to get NASCAR on the front page of the local paper.

Imagine if the Cubs or White Sox were contenders.

Well, it could happen.

I'd rather see the Chase begin somewhere like Darlington or Bristol. They're smaller markets -- OK, tiny compared to Chicago -- but they would embrace the sport, and the style of racing at those tracks is more likely to create drama that captures the imagination.

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