Chicago to host first Chase race of 2011

NASCAR will open the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup at Chicagoland Speedway.

The announcement, which was made Monday in Chicago by officials from the speedway and NASCAR, was first reported by on August 5.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway had opened the Chase since its 2004 inception. The shift to Chicago is part of a scheduling shuffle that NASCAR is piecing together for 2011.

NASCAR received several schedule requests from the two biggest track operators in the industry, and the sanctioning body is using the opportunity to make significant changes for 2011.

By opening its 10-race playoffs in Chicago, NASCAR will be racing in the second largest media market on the Cup tour.

Chicagoland Speedway, located in Joliett, Ill., played host to its inaugural Cup Series race on July 15, 2001. It is a 1.5-mile track that also has featured the Nationwide Series (one race annually since 2001) and one Truck Series event (2009).

Other reported moves include Kansas Speedway getting a second race date, and Kentucky Speedway being added to the Cup Series schedule.

Kentucky Speedway officials will hold a news conference on Tuesday, at which time it is expected to reveal its 2011 race dates. On Wednesday, New Hampshire track officials have a new conference Wednesday to address its schedule for next season.