Chasing Stories

There are twelve drivers ready to do battle for this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship set to begin Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

And there are also a dozen great stories to follow with each of them.

This year's Chase may include more interesting angles than the last three championship seasons combined. There are favorites in the field to win this year's title but there are also enough long shots and Cinderella stories to grab anyone's attention.

Top of the list is the guy who is at the top of the standings Mark Martin. The 50-year-old marvel has captured the imagination of NASCAR nation this year in his quest for a first career Cup championship in his first season at Hendrick Motorsports.

Martin has downplayed the title aspirations all season long but now that the bell is about to ring for the Chase and he's on top of the leaderboard, he has what many believe the best chance in his stories time behind the wheel to earn that elusive ring.

Jimmie Johnson has three championship trophies on his mantle and a shot at an unprecedented fourth straight championship this year. Johnson has gone about his business in the usual somewhat low key fashion but looks ready to pounce at the time of the year he usually shines.

Tony Stewart has shined all year long and led the regular season standings after the first 26 races of the campaign. The remarkable first year as an owner-driver could not have gone better so far and Stewart will now set his radar on claiming his third career Cup title, maybe all the more impressive because his name is on the company door.

Stewart's teammate Ryan Newman is also in the Chase mix and gives the Stewart-Haas a double shot at a possible championship. Kurt Busch will try for a second title but do so knowing crew chief Pat Tryson will depart the Penske Racing organization for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2010. It will be interesting to see if that pending change will cause a distraction.

Kasey Kahne has big changes for his organization on the horizon with Richard Petty Motorsports merging with Yates racing at season's end and switching from Dodge to Ford. The behind-the-scenes maneuvering at the team could also play into what transpires over the final ten races of the season.

And then there are the impressive stories of Juan Pablo Montoya, who played the points game to perfection during the regular season to earn a spot in the Chase, and brian Vickers, who grabbed the final transfer spot at the very last moment in Richmond this past Saturday night.

Yep, anywhere you look in this year's elite twelve there's a story to be told. It will be fun to watch it al unfold over the next ten weeks.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2009

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