Throughout this year's Chase, SI.com will feature guest Q&As from athletes both within and outside the sport to give their take on how the playoffs are shaping up. Our second guest Q&A comes courtesy of IndyCar and Nationwide driver Danica Patrick.
SI.com -- Who do you think has the strongest Chase prospects and why?
Danica Patrick -- Denny Hamlin has had some streaks, had a very good beginning to the season, then wasn't winning but now is back. What is most interesting about the Chase is it's like its own little season and anything can happen. Denny Hamlin said after Richmond that was the first time he had ever led a championship and that has led him into a good run. But let's not forget Jimmie Johnson.
SI.com -- Do you have a pick?
Danica -- I know all the drivers that are in it are very good, but I'm going to go with Kevin Harvick. He has had a kick-ass year and has been solid every weekend. I would really like to see Kevin do it. I've gotten to know him more and more over the season. He is a really nice guy, along with his wife. It's really hard to pick because I like a lot of them and I don't want to show favoritism, but I like what Kevin has done this year and I like his attitude. I think it is the right time for him. I'm still going with Kevin to win it.
SI.com-- Who do you think would give fans the most exciting run?
Danica -- Kyle Busch. Either Kyle Busch or Denny Hamlin.
SI.com -- Kyle Busch is the kind of guy who really doesn't care what fans think of him. What do you think of that? Do you like his attitude?
Danica -- He does win a lot. It's easy to not care what people think when you do win a lot.
SI.com -- How would you prepare for the Chase if you were in it?
DP -- I would review all of those races from the year before and get ready to click them off one-by-one.
SI.com-- Which tracks do you think would be the trickiest?
Danica -- There are so many I haven't been to, but I will say you can throw away a lot of points at a big superspeedway. Play your cards right and be smart at the superspeedways so that you get a top-10 or top-15 finish.
SI.com -- Do you like the format of the Chase?
Danica -- I think it creates a lot of media buzz because it's like a season within a season. You have to have people paying attention if you want cars out there. It gets rid of the situation of having somebody who has run away with it all season. It's a hint unfair to a driver leading the championship because he has earned it, but I do think it creates a lot of buzz. Ultimately, this is still a business.
SI.com -- Do you think it works only because they have so many races?
Danica -- If you broke it down percentage wise from what they have in NASCAR to what we have in IndyCar, it wouldn't work in IndyCar. You would have to have a lot of races.
SI.com -- Do you think that IndyCar determines a true season champion by accumulating points for the entire season?
Danica -- We have 17 races and the Chase is 10 races. They are both definitely true champions. They are both broken down in different ways.
SI.com -- Do you watch the Chase races on television?
Danica -- Whenever I can catch it I do. Sitting in front of the TV, I did it a few times at the beginning of the year and you could sit there for eight hours. I clean my house all Sunday -- I'm not going to lie. I cleaned my house while I watched the race this past Sunday [Dover] because I just can't sit there that long. The Chase makes me watch just before the Chase starts and then during the Chase, so it is a good vehicle.
SI.com -- Do you think it takes away from the race?
Danica -- No, I think it adds to the race. I think the Chase adds to the race because it makes it that much more important.
SI.com -- Auto racing used to be about winning big events but those seem to be overshadowed by the Chase.
Danica -- I know that in IndyCar the Indy 500 has always stayed the big race of the year. NASCAR makes a big deal of their champion more than they do the Daytona 500 winner and the Brickyard 400 winner. I forgot who won the Brickyard 400, but I know what is going on in the Chase. The Chase makes it like you have 10 final races of the season. You have to do well at all 10. I think that does make it very hard.
SI.com -- Has the Chase become to NASCAR fans what the NCAA Basketball Tournament is to college fans? A bracketology of sorts?
Danica -- I've never filled out a bracket for the NCAA Basketball Tournament before, so I have to ask my husband, Paul, about that. He does that kind of stuff. But fans become invested and have a vested interest in what is happening every weekend and that is important to having fans. It's like my husband says when he fills out his picks for the year, you watch that game to find out who won to see how you did. Games that you normally wouldn't watch, you watch. If that is what is making people watching NASCAR, then it is good.
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.