* The race for 11th place: Kevin Harvick has it, but Jamie McMurray and Elliott Sadler are close behind * They like Lowe's, too: Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Rusty Wallace all successful at Lowe's NEWS AND NOTES Race for 11th ...
* The race for 11th place: Kevin Harvick has it, but Jamie McMurray and Elliott Sadler are close behind
* They like Lowe's, too: Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Rusty Wallace all successful at Lowe's
NEWS AND NOTES
Race for 11th Place Heats Up ... If this weekend's UAW-GM Quality 500 marks "Go" time for Chase participants, it's also a clarion call for drivers battling for 11th-place. That spot is worth over $1 million as a bonus from the season-ending point fund, and the goal remains the same -- winning races and improving in the standings.
Numbers tell the tale: Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) occupies 11th place for a second consecutive week, but he's only one point ahead of Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge), last year's 11th-place finisher, and two points ahead of 13th-place Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford).
"We're trying a few things with our cars to get us in position to start next season out strong," McMurray said, "so we'll just have to see how everything plays out. We'll be giving it everything we have each week and hopefully when it's all said and done we'll be in the money position."
Here's a look at the drivers in spots 11 through 15:
• 11th place -- Kevin Harvick currently controls that position for a second consecutive week. He finished 24th at Kansas.
• 12th place -- Jamie McMurray is in 12th place for a second consecutive week. He trails Harvick by one point. McMurray finished 18th at Kansas.
• 13th place -- Elliott Sadler is in 13th place for a second consecutive week. He finished 12th at Kansas. Sadler trails Harvick by two points.
• 14th place -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) is in 14th place. He gained two spots in the standings following his 10th-place finish at Kansas. Gordon trails Harvick by 81 points.
• 15th place -- Joe Nemechek (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet) is in 15th place for a second consecutive week. He finished 20th at Kansas. Nemechek trails Harvick by 92 points.
Other Chase Drivers Excel at Lowe's ... Jimmie Johnson might dominate current individual statistics at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but he's hardly alone in his success. Four other Chase participants -- former series champions Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford) and Rusty Wallace, plus last week's winner at Kansas, Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford) -- also have won at Lowe's.
As Johnson does, Martin tabs Lowe's as a favorite. He won the series' all-star event there in May, the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, and has four wins and 19 top-10 finishes at Lowe's. Martin's most recent points win there was the Coca-Cola 600 in May 2002.
Wallace has four wins at Lowe's and 22 top-10 finishes in 47 career starts there. Saturday night's UAW-GM Quality 500 will be his final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event at Lowe's; Wallace is retiring at the end of the 2005 season. His last win there was the Coca-Cola 600 in May 1990.
Stewart and Kenseth each have one win at Lowe's. Stewart's came in October 2003, Kenseth's in the Coca-Cola 600 in May 2000. Stewart has nine top-10 finishes in 13 career starts. Kenseth has six top-10 finishes in 12 career starts at Lowe's.
Edwards Young, But Still A Factor ... Carl Edwards (No. 99 Scotts Ford) has experienced many "firsts" this season -- his first fulltime campaign in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, and his first spot in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. But he's doing more than merely learning. Heading into Saturday night's UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's, Edwards has carved out a competitive spot in the Chase standings. He's in sixth place, only 95 points behind leader Tony Stewart and three points behind fifth-place Jimmie Johnson.
Edwards also can claim momentum. He's posted three straight top-10 finishes after beginning the Chase with a 19th-place result in the first Chase event at New Hampshire. Since then, Edwards has finished ninth at Dover, fifth at Talladega and third last week at Kansas behind two of his Roush Racing teammates, winner Mark Martin and second-place finisher Greg Biffle.
And don't count Edwards out at Lowe's Motor Speedway. He finished third in May's Coca-Cola 600, his only appearance there to date, and led 10 laps.
Car of Tomorrow Becoming Reality ... NASCAR's "car of tomorrow," a prototype of the sport's future race vehicle, is progressing toward the track. Several years of research, fabrication, testing and tinkering have produced a chassis that ultimately will make tomorrow's race vehicles even safer than today's cars.
Gary Nelson, NASCAR Vice President for Research and Development, has overseen the project, which is based at the NASCAR R & D Center in Concord, N.C. Working with team owners, NASCAR plans to debut the new car in 2007, and a recent test at Talladega Superspeedway was the latest benchmark for track readiness. Another test follows on Monday, Oct. 31 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Leading the car of tomorrow's safety advances will be a larger "greenhouse," or driver compartment, which gives drivers more room to enter and exit. It also moves them closer to the vehicle's center, and further away from impact.
Other benefits include reducing over-dependence on aerodynamic drag and downforce.
Lowe's Milestones ... Ricky Rudd (No. 21 Motorcraft Ford) is expected to make his 783rd consecutive start, the all-time record for consecutive starts. It will be his 59th start at Lowe's, second only to Richard Petty, who holds the Lowe's mark of 64 career starts. ... Elliott Sadler is expected to make his 200th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup start.
Walking Lowe's Motor Speedway for Charity ... On Saturday, Oct. 15, NASCAR fans have the opportunity to walk Lowe's Motor Speedway for both exercise and a good cause. The Tyson Fun Walk, a NASCAR On Track for Charity fundraising event, begins at 11 a.m. It benefits the Petty family's Victory Junction Gang Camp and Speedway Children's Charities, and precedes the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series' UAW-GM Quality 500 later that evening. Fans can register online at www.speedwaycharities.org, by calling 704-455-4396, or on-site Saturday morning at the Tyson Fun Walk tent across from Gate 26 of the speedway.
Johnson to Lead Ride to Victory III Fundraiser ... Jimmie Johnson will be busy this weekend as the defending champion of the UAW-GM Quality 500, but on Sunday, Oct. 16, the bustle will be for a good cause. Johnson will serve as the honorary grand marshal for the Ride to Victory III, a 130-mile motorcycle ride that begins at 10:30 a.m. It leaves from the Carolina and Tilley Harley-Davidson shops north of Charlotte, N.C., continues to the Childress Vineyards for a tour of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress' winery, and proceeds to the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C. The ride ends with a fish fry and tour of the camp. Registration can be done online at www.kylepettycharityride.com or by calling 704-714-4545.
Manufacturers Standings ... Chevrolet continues to dominate the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series with 14 wins in 30 races to date. Ford has 13 wins and Dodge has three. Chevrolet has won the last five events at Lowe's.
The NASCAR Leaderboard ... Tony Stewart leads the Chase standings entering the UAW-GM Quality 500. He tops the series in winnings ($6,067,769), top fives (15), top 10s (21), and is tied with Greg Biffle for most wins (five).
On Deck: Martinsville Speedway ... The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series moves to Martinsville Speedway for the Subway 500, on Oct. 23. Jimmie Johnson is the defending race winner. Ryan Newman is the defending polesitter.
The race: UAW-GM Quality 500
The track: Lowe's Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.
The date/time: Saturday, Oct. 15, 7:10 p.m. (ET).
TV: NBC, 7 p.m. (ET).
Radio: PRN/XM Satellite.
Posted awards: $4,980,384.
Race length: 500 miles, 334 laps.
Track layout: 1.5-mile tri-oval.
2004 winner: Jimmie Johnson.
2004 polesitter: Ryan Newman.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Tony Stewart 5,684. 2. Ryan Newman 5,609. 3. Greg Biffle 5,596. 4. Rusty Wallace 5,594. 5. Jimmie Johnson 5,592. 6. Carl Edwards 5,589. 7. Mark Martin 5,571. 8. Matt Kenseth, 5,568. 9. Jeremy Mayfield, 5,527.10. Kurt Busch 5,460.