Chase for the Cup: Kansas

Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Kansas DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 25, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway, the third event of the 10 races that make...

Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Kansas

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 25, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway, the third event of the 10 races that make up the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."

The Banquet 400 (1:30 p.m. ET on NBC) is the 29th 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 -- Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 5,351. Burton finished first at Dover to climb from fifth to first in the standings and take the points lead for the first time since May 1999. He is one of four drivers to post top-10 finishes in the first two Chase races. Burton has 17 top-10 finishes in 2006. He ranked 20th in the standings at this point last season. Burton has yet to crack the top 10 in five races at Kansas; his best finish there was 11th in the inaugural event in 2001. He finished 28th in this race a year ago. Burton has led in two of his five races at Kansas, where he has a 19.2 average finish, sixth among Chase drivers. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Burton is ranked second in Fastest Drivers Early in a Run (7.840).

No. 2 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 5,345. Gordon finished third at Dover to climb from fourth to second in the standings. The finish was his second third-place effort in the two Chase events; he is the only driver among the top 10 with two top-five finishes in Chase races. Gordon has two victories (2001 and 2002) and four top-10 finishes in five races at Kansas, where he has a 6.0 average finish, tops among Chase drivers. His finishes at Kansas have all been in the top 15. Gordon placed 10th in this race a year ago at Kansas, where he has led 169 laps, the most among all drivers. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Gordon is ranked second in Driver Rating (99.4).

No. 3 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,333. Kenseth led the majority of the laps at Dover before being passed by Burton on the final lap and running out of gas to finish 10th. He has a series-leading 18 top-10 finishes in 2006, tying Jimmie Johnson, and has top-10 efforts in the two Chase events. Kenseth has ranked among the top-five in the standings since a victory in the season's second race, at California, and has been running at the finish in the last 22 events, since Texas in April. He has two top-10 finishes in five races at Kansas, where he has a 19.4 average finish, seventh among Chase drivers. Kenseth posted a DNF in his first Kansas outing but finished a career-best fifth last year. He has led in two races at Kansas. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kenseth is ranked first in Laps Led (1,108).

No. 4 -- Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 5,333. Hamlin finished ninth at Dover, one of four drivers with top-10 runs in the first two Chase races. He is tied in points with Kenseth, but Kenseth is ranked third because he has four victories to Hamlin's two. Hamlin is the first Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate to make the Chase. He has 15 top-10 finishes in 2006, the most among rookies. Hamlin has been the highest-finishing rookie in 14 of 28 races this year. He has competed in one race at Kansas, finishing 32nd; his average finish ranks last among Chase drivers. Season-to-date Loop Data: Hamlin is ranked eighth in Driver Rating (93.8).

No. 5 -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet): Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 5,297. Harvick finished 32nd at Dover to drop from first to fifth in the standings and end a 39-race streak of running at the finish, dating to California last September. He has ranked among the top 10 the last 22 races, since Texas in April. Harvick was ranked 12th at this point last season. He has 15 top-10 finishes in 2006. Harvick has one top-10 finish in five races at Kansas, a sixth-place effort in 2003. He finished 24th in this race last year at Kansas, where he has an 18.4 average finish, fifth among Chase drivers. Harvick has led in two of his five Kansas races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Harvick is ranked first in Fastest Drivers on Restarts (10.679).

No. 6 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,276. Martin finished 14th at Dover to remain sixth in the standings. He has been running at the finish in the last 35 races, the longest current streak among drivers. Martin has one victory (in this race last October) and two top-10 finishes in five races at Kansas, where he has a 14.4 average finish, third among Chase contestants. He has led in two of his five Kansas events. Martin is the lone Chase driver without a victory in 2006; his most recent triumph came at Kansas last season, 35 races ago. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Martin is ranked eighth in Fastest Drivers in Turns (9.886).

No. 7 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). Team: Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Points: 5,249. Earnhardt finished 21st at Dover to remain seventh in the standings. He was ranked 17th at this point in 2006. Earnhardt has one victory this year, at Richmond in May. He has two top-10 finishes in five races at Kansas, where he has a 20.0 average finish, eighth among Chase drivers. Earnhardt finished 34th in this race last year, his worst Kansas effort. He has one DNF at Kansas, in his first race there. Earnhardt has led in three Kansas races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Earnhardt is ranked sixth in Fastest Drivers on Restarts (13.393).

No. 8 -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 5,215. Johnson finished 13th at Dover to climb one position in the standings. He has only one top-10 finish in his last seven races. Johnson will finish in the top five in the standings for the fifth consecutive year. He has ranked among the top 10 for 97 consecutive races, since Atlanta in March 2004. Johnson has been running at the finish in all 28 races this season. He has three top-10 finishes in four races at Kansas, where he has a 13.75 average finish, second among Chase drivers. Johnson finished a career-best sixth a year ago at Kansas, where he has one DNF. He has led in two of his four Kansas races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Johnson is ranked fourth in Average Running Position (12.161).

No. 9 -- Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 5,169. Kahne finished 38th at Dover to drop one spot in the standings. He has a series-leading five victories this season. Kahne has 14 top-10 finishes in 2006. He was ranked 21st in the standings at this point last year. Kahne has two starts at Kansas, finishing 19th in this race a year ago and 12th in his first outing. He led 39 laps in his first race at Kansas, where he has a 15.5 average finish, fourth among Chase drivers. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kahne is ranked sixth in Laps Led (500).

No. 10 -- Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kelloggs Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 5,127. Busch finished 40th at Dover to remain 10th in the standings. The finish was his sixth of 32nd or worse in 2006 and second DNF this season. Busch was ranked 19th at this point last season. He has 15 top-10 finishes. Busch has yet to log a top-10 finish in two races at Kansas, where he finished 21st a year ago. He has not led a lap at Kansas, where he has a 29.0 average finish, 10th among Chase drivers. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Busch is ranked fourth in Fastest Drivers on Straightaways (9.635).

-credit: nascar

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