2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup:Geico 400September 11, 2012 by Marc Jerbs

On Sunday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup series starts its championship phase of the 2012 season. The 10-race "Chase for the Sprint Cup" officially starts with the Geico 400. Chicago Speedway will host the race at 1PM ET.

Out of the 79 drivers, only 12 drivers qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup and one could emerge as champion. The top 12 drivers who qualified were: Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Greg Bifle, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhard Jr., Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon.

Denny Hamlin is the current leader in the standings with 2012 points. He was given bonus points after posting 4 wins this season. He has a slim 3 point lead over 2nd placer Jimmie Johnson.

The sportsbook handicappers have installed Jimmie Johnson as the man to beat in the Chase for the Sprint Cup title. However, Denny Hamlin and Johnson's teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. could be his strongest competitors throughout the 10-race event.