20 MATT KENSETH, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Matt Kenseth moved from sixth to first once the points were reset after Richmond on Saturday in preparation for the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship playoffs. Kenseth leads former points leader Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch - tied for second - by three points each heading into Sunday's Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway.
CHICAGO RECORD: 12 career starts, 0 wins, 2 top-fives, 4 top-10s, 1 poles. Best career finish: Second in 2005 and 2007. Finished 18th in this race last year.
LOOKING AHEAD: Kenseth starts the Chase as the No. 1 seed by virtue of having a series-leading five wins. If he continues at the pace he's enjoyed during the first 26 races, Kenseth could potentially win two or maybe even three more races in the Chase as he pursues his second career Cup championship (also won in 2003, the final season before the Chase format began in 2004). Here's his thoughts on the Chase: "I'm as confident going there as anywhere else. Each point in every race is equally important, so I don't really buy into that (some races in the Chase are bigger than others) as big as some people. You don't want to have any bad races. Certainly, don't want to have a bad first one, but you don't want to have any bad ones. You want to start strong and finish strong."
LOOKING BACK: Kenseth assured himself the top spot in the reset Sprint Cup standings after Richmond with a strong sixth-place finish there.
ETC.: Kenseth has completed 99.9 percent (3,203) of the 3,207 total laps contested in 12 career starts at Chicagoland. His average start is 17.1, while his average finish is 12.8. He has zero DNFs there.
48 JIMMIE JOHNSON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: After holding first place for 20 straight weeks, Jimmie Johnson fell to a tie for second place in the standings with Kyle Busch after the points were reset in preparation for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Johnson and Busch trail new points leader Matt Kenseth by three points and are six points ahead of the fourth-place tie between Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards.
CHICAGO RECORD: 11 career starts, 0 wins, 6 top-5s, 9 top-10s, 2 poles. Best career finish: Second in 2004, 2008 and 2012. Finished second in this race last year (after starting from the pole.
LOOKING AHEAD: Chicagoland Speedway is one of only five tracks Johnson has not won upon in the Sprint Cup Series. Given his terrible run of bad luck in the last four races, he could get back on-track in a big way and check off Chicagoland from his bucket list with a win there on Sunday. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "We have been close so many times at Chicago. We always run well there. I don't know what it is. We just haven't gotten the win. Since Chad (Knaus, crew chief) is from the area (Rockford, Ill., about 100 miles away), we really want to get a win for him. There's always a little concern (about his recent struggles). Without a doubt, you want to enter the Chase with momentum. I think every team falls back on past history. I'm going to reserve any major concern or overwhelming confidence until after Chicago. I'm going to go in there with confidence that I can go out and win because I know I can. We're going to enter nice and smooth and see how Chicago goes."
LOOKING BACK: Johnson had his fourth straight poor finish: 40th (Michigan), 36th (Bristol) 28th (Atlanta) and 40th (Richmond). He needs to get back on track during the Chase, or it could be a quick exit for him.
ETC.: Johnson has completed 98.4 percent (2,894) of the 2,940 total laps contested in 11 career starts at Chicagoland. His average start there is an outstanding 7.5 and average finish is 9.3. He has one DNF there.
18 KYLE BUSCH, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: After being in fifth place for the five previous weeks, Kyle Busch moved into a tie for second place in the standings with Jimmie Johnson after the points were reset in preparation for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Johnson and Busch trail new points leader Matt Kenseth by three points and are six points ahead of the fourth-place tie between Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards.
CHICAGO RECORD: 8 career starts, 1 wins, 3 top-fives, 3 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: First in 2008. Finished fourth in this race last year.
LOOKING AHEAD: With many fans and reporters alike picking him to win this year's championship, Busch comes into this year's Chase with a great deal of confidence. Here's his thoughts: "We've been very good with our 1.5-mile stuff this year. Chicago, in particular, really turned around for us starting last year. I'm looking forward to Chicago this weekend. I like going there. We were able to test there a few weeks back and I feel like we learned a few things that will help us. I think we've got a great team and I'm sure we'll be working hard to try to win and get off to a good start in the Chase."
LOOKING BACK: Busch struggled in the final pre-Chase race at Richmond, finishing 19th. Even so, he was already locked into the Chase.
ETC.: Busch has completed 99.5 percent (2,128) of the 2,139 total laps contested in eight career starts at Chicagoland. His average start is 15.4, while his average finish is 13.4. He has one DNF there. ... Busch's wife Samantha is from St. John, Ind., about 45 miles from Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
29 KEVIN HARVICK, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing