After 26 grueling races, that proved anything can happen in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series; the field for the 'Chase for the Championship' is finally set. Tony Stewart maintains his reign at the head of the class leading into the first playoff race at Loudon, New Hampshire next weekend.
"We haven't finished outside the top 8 in three months now," commented Stewart. "We're pretty happy about that. We're ready for next week."
2. Greg Biffle: 5045 points
"I feel awesome," Biffle said. "I think that before tonight I felt like we were the team to beat and I still do. We've got so much momentum. Our cars are running fast. I really feel like we are the team to beat."
3. Rusty Wallace: 5040 points
This is Wallace's final year in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.
"I'm glad we are in the 'Chase'," Wallace commented. "I'm really happy. Now, it is time to go racing and see what happens."
4. Jimmie Johnson: 5035 points
"We didn't get off to a good start last year and we almost won it," said Johnson. "We'll just have to work hard and see what happens."
5. Kurt Busch: 5030 points
"It is in some ways, yes," Busch said when asked if his victory at Richmond was a statement that this team is prepared to go for back-to-back championships. "In other ways, we're just racing our cars to the best of our ability."
6. Mark Martin: 5025 points
"I'm glad we had it this week," said Martin of his bad luck at Richmond. "Maybe, we won't have a flat tire next week. I'm real proud of the performance. The car was pretty strong especially on the long runs."
7. Jeremy Mayfield: 5020 points
"It means everything to be in the 'Chase' two years in a row," Mayfield explained. "It certainly says a lot for our race team. Everybody at Evernham Motorsports has worked so hard to get us where we needed to be. They have just worked their tails off this year."
8. Carl Edwards: 5015 points
Makes the 'Chase' in his first full-time season in the Nextel Cup series.
"I can't believe it," said an elated Edwards. "I wasn't allowing myself to even think of this, really. So, it's pretty cool. When I go home tomorrow it is going to be pretty neat."
8. Matt Kenseth: 5015 points
"We're really running well," Kenseth said. "We just didn't sneak in. We still ran second tonight and had a good run. I really think we can be a threat down the stretch. There are a couple of tracks that probably aren't great tracks for us, but I think we can be a legitimate threat for it."
10. Ryan Newman: 5005 points
"That's pretty cool making the 'Chase' for the second consecutive season," Newman said. "It wasn't the performance we wanted, but we got part of the main goal solved today. I look forward to those last ten races. We'll keep working on this Dodge and see how we can do."
Edwards and Kenseth tied in the original ending points after Richmond II.
The 'Chase' kicks in next weekend at New Hampshire International Raceway. Kurt Busch is the defending winner of that event, and Tony Stewart won the race there earlier this year.