This CHASE is set… No… wait…  OK… NOW the CHASE is set!

After penalties were issued by NASCAR over “manipulation” of the race at Richmond, the actual CHASE group of 12 drivers eligible to win the Sprint Cup Championship was altered slightly. Martin Truex, Jr.  and other Michael Waltrip Racing drivers and teams were docked and fined and the result replaced Truex, Jr. with Ryan Newman.

Once that was settled, the CHASE drivers were spread out across the states and places with upcoming races for the “CHASE Across America”. The race this weekend, the first in the Championship CHASE, is in Chicago. As a premiere for all the remaining races, drivers were out meeting fans and participating in racing communities.

Matt Kenseth went to Chicago, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. went to New York, Kyle Busch was with the Armed Forces at Dover Air Force Base, Greg Biffle was celebrating First Responders in Birmingham, Harvick was in Texas…

Martinsville Speedway is on the CHASE schedule, too, with the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 coming in late October. To celebrate their part of the CHASE, the folks at Martinsville hosted Kasey Kahne in nearby Roanoke, VA. The folks at the Speedway said a major fan base comes from the area and it was a good fit to have Kahne drive a Sprint Car through the streets of Roanoke. They were right…

Fans lined the streets and the city’s historic Market Square to welcome Kasey, Miss Sprint Cup Jaclyn Roney and the Martinsville Speedway staff. Roanoke Mayor David Bowers issued a city proclamation and presented Kahne with a large star emblem showcasing the “Star City”. Local radio personality of WROV, JD Sutphin, acted as the emcee as the presentations moved along. Kahne and Roney took fan questions, tossed out hats and had some fun with the fans crowded into the square.

Afterwards, Kahne spoke a bit about racing, the CHASE, Martinsville and the upcoming first race in Chicago. He was open about the focus being on Chicago as a good start to post season is critical. On Martinsville, he was candid about his early difficulties on the historic short track. However, as an addition to Hendrick Racing he said team mates such as Gordon, Johnson and Earnhardt, Jr. have been ready and willing with tips, pointers and advice. It seems to have paid off. He has earned a pole at Martinsville and some good finishes recently.

He did speak briefly on the points shuffle and fines coming away from Richmond. He didn’t dwell, just made comments about the unfortunate reflection on the sport in general.

But now that is all, technically, in the rear view and the focus is on racing to the championship. In Virginia, that focus is on Martinsville Speedway on the weekend of October 27th. Pole Day qualifying, the Camping World Series Trucks Kroger 200 and the Sprint Cup CHASE race, Goody’s Headcahe Relief Shot 500.

Yes – Tickets and fan packages are available. (Martinsville Speedway online)

PHOTOS of Kasey Kahne in Roanoke.  Special “Thank You” to Anthony Martone of STARPHOTOS with their assistance!