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Matt Kenseth opens Chase on front row

Updated: September 18, 2011, 11:44 AM ET
Associated Press

JOLIET, Ill. -- The opening round in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship won't decide the NASCAR champion.

What it could do, though, is separate the contenders from the pretenders.

"It's so important not to have a bad day in that first race," said five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson. "We'll have a pretty good idea of who will be strong and who won't right out of the gate."

The 10-race Chase opens Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway with Matt Kenseth, ranked fourth in ...

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