Who says second place is the first loser?

For the first time since the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup began in 2004 New Hampshire Motor Speedway will not be the first stop on the 10 race playoff schedule, but it doesn’t mean that the 2011 SYLVANIA 300 is any less important.

When the top-12 Sprint Cup Series drivers race into the Granite State next week they already will have the first Chase race under their belts. That means “The Magic Mile” will be a place to either bounce back from a rough start or keep the momentum going from a strong one.

The championship points standings may actually be closer going into NHMS than they were leading up to Chicago.

“We are lucky enough to be one of only 10 tracks in the world who get to host one of these coveted Chase races,” said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of the speedway. “The SYLVANIA 300 still remains one of the most prestigious events on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.”

For the drivers, the last ten races are all equally important.

“This is the time where we have to go out there and do everything perfectly. We get 10 races to win this championship. When you think about it, as a driver it’s kind of overwhelming, to think that every lap in every race has to be perfect or your championship will be ruined,” said Carl Edwards when he visited New Hampshire earlier in the week.

The action-packed weekend begins on Thursday, Sept. 22 through Sunday, Sept. 25. Joining NASCAR’s best will be the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the F.W. Webb 175, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East for the New Hampshire 125, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for the New Hampshire 100 and the American-Canadian Tour for the ACT Invitational. Tickets can be purchased by calling the NHMS ticket hotline at (603) 783-4931 or by visiting www.nhms.com.