Chase for the Cup: Dover

Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Dover DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 18, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Dover 400 at Dover International Speedway, the second event of the 10 that...

Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Dover

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 18, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Dover 400 at Dover International Speedway, the second event of the 10 that make up the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."

The Dover 400 (12:30 p.m. ET on TNT) is the 28th of 36 races on the series' schedule. The first 26 races of the season determined the drivers involved in the third annual Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup contested over the final 10 races. The "Chase" includes drivers in the top 10 or who were within 400 points of the standings' leader.

No. 1 -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet): Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 5,230. Harvick finished first at New Hampshire to take the lead in the standings for the first time in his career. If he sustains his hot streak, he would become the first driver to win both the NASCAR Busch and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series titles. Harvick and fifth-ranked Jeff Burton are the first drivers to represent team owner Richard Childress in the Chase. He has ranked among the top 10 the last 21 races, since Texas in April. Harvick has 15 top-10 finishes in 2006. He ranked 13th in the standings at this point last season. Harvick has been running at the finish in the last 39 races, the longest current streak. He has five top-10 finishes in 11 races at Dover, where he has a 16.272 average finish, eighth among drivers in the top 10. Harvick finished 19th in this race a year ago and third in June, his best Dover finish. He has led in one of his 11 Dover races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Harvick is ranked first in Fastest Drivers on Restarts (10.111).

No. 2 -- Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 5,195. Hamlin finished fourth at New Hampshire to climb from fifth to second in the standings. He is the first Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate to make the Chase. Hamlin has two victories in 2006, sweeping at Pocono. He has 14 top-10 finishes, the most among rookie contenders. Hamlin has been the highest-finishing rookie in 14 of 27 races this year. He has been running at the finish in the last 21 races. Hamlin has run one time at Dover, finishing 11th in June. Season-to-date Loop Data: Hamlin is ranked third in Fastest Drivers Early in a Run (7.880).

No. 3 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,189. Kenseth finished 10th at New Hampshire to drop two spots in the standings. He is contending in his third Chase. Kenseth has been running at the finish in the last 21 races, since Texas in April. He has eight top-10 finishes in 15 races at Dover, where he has a 15.066 average finish, sixth among Chase drivers. Kenseth finished 35th in this race a year ago before logging his first victory at Dover in June. He has led in three of his 15 races at Dover, where he has posted DNFs in three of his last five events. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kenseth is ranked first in Average Running Position (10.871).

No. 4 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 5,180. Gordon finished third at New Hampshire to climb from ninth to fourth in the standings, the largest gain among drivers in the top 10. He is running in his second Chase. Gordon has won twice in 2006, but his four DNFs are the most of any driver in the top 10. He has four victories (the most recent in June 2001) and 16 top-10 finishes in 27 races at Dover, where he has a 12.851 average finish, fourth among Chase drivers. Gordon finished 37th in this race last year and 12th in June. He has led 2,198 laps at Dover, tops among active drivers and third all-time behind Bobby Allison (2,803) and Richard Petty (2,205). Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Gordon is ranked second in Driver Rating (99.2).

No. 5 -- Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 5,166. Burton finished seventh at New Hampshire to climb from eighth to fifth in the standings. He has 16 top-10 finishes in 2006. Burton ranked 19th at this point last year. He has nine top-10 finishes in 25 races at Dover, where he has an 18.120 average finish, ninth among Chase drivers. Burton finished 11th in the race a year ago and fourth in June. He has led in seven of his 25 Dover starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Burton is ranked third in Average Running Position (11.481).

No. 6 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,155. Martin finished 11th at New Hampshire to climb from seventh to sixth in the standings. He has been running at the finish in the last 34 races. Martin has four victories (the most recent in June 2004) and 25 top-10 finishes in 40 races at Dover, where he has a 13.050 average finish, fifth among Chase drivers. He finished fourth in this race last year and ninth in June at Dover, where he has had five consecutive top-10 finishes in his most recent outings. Martin is one of two Chase drivers (with Burton) who has not won a race in 2006. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Martin is ranked fifth in Fastest Drivers Late in a Run (9.923).

No. 7 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). Team: Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Points: 5,149. Earnhardt finished 13th at New Hampshire to drop one spot in the standings. He is competing in his second Chase. Earnhardt has one victory this season, at Richmond in May. He has one victory (2001) and six top-10 finishes in 13 races at Dover, where he has a 15.923 average finish, seventh among Chase drivers. Earnhardt finished 31st in this race a year ago, one of three Dover finishes of 30th or worse. He has been running at the finish in 12 of his 13 Dover starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Earnhardt is ranked sixth in Fastest Drivers on Restarts (13.370).

No. 8 -- Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 5,120. Kahne finished 16th at New Hampshire to climb from 10th to eighth in the standings. He is competing in his first Chase. Kahne has a series-best five victories in 2006; he has 14 top-10 finishes overall. Kahne has one top-10 finish in five races at Dover, where he has a 24.2 average finish, worst among Chase contenders. He finished 16th in this race a year ago and seventh in June, his best Dover effort. He posted DNFs in his first three Dover outings. Kahne has led in one of his five Dover starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kahne is ranked first in Fastest Drivers on Straightaways (7.840).

No. 9 -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 5,091. Johnson finished 39th at New Hampshire to fall from second to ninth in the standings, the biggest drop among drivers in the top 10. He is competing in his third Chase. Johnson has a series-leading 18 top-10 finishes in 2006, one more than Kenseth. He has three victories (the most recent in this race last year) and seven top-10 finishes in nine races at Dover, where he has an 11.22 average finish, third among Chase drivers. Johnson finished sixth at Dover in June. He has two DNFs in nine races at Dover, where he has led in six of his starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Johnson is ranked fourth in Average Running Position (12.141).

No. 10 -- Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 5,084. Busch finished 38th at New Hampshire to drop from fourth to 10th in the standings. He is competing in his first Chase. Busch has 15 top-10 finishes in 2006. He has just one DNF this season, an accident at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Busch has been running at the finish in his last 15 races. He has top-five finishes in all three of his races at Dover, where he has a 3.0 average finish, tops among Chase drivers. Busch finished second in his first two races at Dover and fifth in June. He has led in two of his three Dover events. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Busch is ranked eighth in Fastest Drivers Early in a Run (9.545).

Fast Facts

Top 10 following New Hampshire (race 27 of 36):
1. Kevin Harvick 5,230 (pts)
2. Denny Hamlin* 5,195 (-35)
3. Matt Kenseth 5,189 (-41)
4. Jeff Gordon 5,180 (-50)
5. Jeff Burton 5,166 (-64)
6. Mark Martin 5,155 (-75)
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5,149 (-81)
8. Kasey Kahne 5,120 (-110)
9. Jimmie Johnson 5,091 (-139)
10. Kyle Busch 5,084 (-146)

Weeks at No. 1: Harvick (1).

Contending for 11th:
11. Tony Stewart 3,473
12. Greg Biffle 3,160
13. Carl Edwards 3,120
14. Kurt Busch 2,934
15. Casey Mears 2,915

* Denotes Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Richard Petty , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Bobby Allison , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing