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Your! Call: Who will win NASCAR's Sprint Cup Chase?

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Shane McNeil, TSN.ca
9/17/2012 3:27:46 PM
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With just nine races remaining, NASCAR's Sprint Cup Chase has officially begun.

Twelve drivers have qualified for the Chase, which begins with Sunday's GEICO 400.

So who will emerge this season to claim NASCAR's top prize?

Denny Hamlin enters the chase as the prohibitive favourite and top seed. He has earned four checkered flags this season, including two in the last three races: Bristol and Atlanta.

Right behind him, however, are the big guns.

Since the inception of the Chase in 2004 only three different drivers have brought the hardware home.

Over the past seven years, that number decreases to just two.

Tony Stewart won his second Chase title last year, halting a five-year run of success from Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson (ranked second) and Stewart (ranked third) are hot on Hamlin's heels, just three points back.

Johnson has missed the top-10 in three of the last four races but remains a threat thanks to eight podium finishes so far in 2012.

Stewart, meanwhile, hopes to string together a series of championships like Johnson did after winning last season's Chase by virtue of a tiebreak.

Hendrick Motorsports will be well represented during the Chase with all four drivers qualifying amongst the top-12.

Alongside Johnson, teammates Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will all be fighting it out for points.

Kahne and Gordon squeezed in as the 11 and 12-seeds respectively just ahead of the likes of Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards.

Earnhardt Jr. – still a sentimental favourite by genetics – comes in ranked seventh thanks in large part to a strong start to the season, which saw him on the podium at three of the first six races, including second at Daytona.

Speaking of Daytona, 2012 champ Matt Kenseth is another man to watch alongside Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle. At least one of the Roush pair has finished top-10 in all but three of this year's races, which should keep them competitive as the points become even more precious.

Also not to be taken lightly is fourth-ranked Brad Keselowski. He stands alongside Hamlin, Johnson and Stewart as this year's only three-time winners. He was at the same total at the beginning of last year's Chase before failing to win any of the final 10 and finishing fifth overall.

But it doesn't end there. Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. should not be taken lightly - especially Bowyer, who is coming off a victory last week in Richmond.

So, who do you like?

As always, It's Your! Call.

Denny Hamlin (Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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