And so it begins, Chase Race Number 1 is in the books and Matt Kensenth is the big winner. After a week that brought a cloud of doubt over NASCAR as a whole, its great to have that first race officially in the books. NASCAR officials issued unprecedented penalties on Monday of last week when it fined Michael Waltrip Racing $300,000, suspended MWR VP of Racing Ty Norris and docked each of the three teams 50 owner and 50 bonus points. The result of which left MWR driver of the number 56, Martin Truex Jr. on the outside of the chase looking in. These penalties allowed Ryan Newman of Stewart-Haas Racing to retain the second Wildcard spot in the chase.
Fans of NASCAR thought that was the end of it and left some with a bad taste in their mouths because officials didn't address the issue of MWRs #15 driver, Clint Bowyer's suspected intentional spin which left Jeff Gordon out of the Chase. Over the next few days, Gordon fans united with a barrage of complaints and petitions on social media and by Friday there would be another unprecedented event in NASCAR. On Friday the 13th after reviewing new audio from Team Penske and Front Row Motorsports, NASCAR determined that actions of the teams on the audio from Richmond conspired to give Joey Logano the last chase spot and cause 4 time Champion Gordon to be left out of the Chase by one point. Brian France issued a statement at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday that there would be a thirteenth car added to the chase and that car would be the Number 24 of Jeff Gordon. Whether it was fan complaints on social media or just good investigation from NASCAR, it now seems that the issues that began in Richmond on September 7th have now been righted.
Jeff Gordon seemed like a man on mission during the first Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill when the rain extended race finally came to a close in the late hours of Sunday night. Matt Kensenth posted his sixth win of the season and the first of the chase while two chase contenders, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Joey Logano both ended the night in the garage with blown engines. The chase resumes on September 22, 2013 in Loudon, New Hampshire.