Handicapping the race for the Chase

Juan Pablo Montoya has morphed from curiosity to contender. Getty Images

A little over nine years ago, NASCAR chairman Brian France and then-league VP of licensing Mark Dyer started scribbling out the first notes of what would become known as the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The pair of admitted football junkies wanted to create gridiron-type playoff excitement that would help NASCAR finally retain some of the national media attention it always lost in fall when college and pro football kicked off.