Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Kansas A look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 during the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 4, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading...
Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Kansas
A look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 during the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 4, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Banquet 400 presented by ConAgra Foods at Kansas Speedway (1:30 p.m. on NBC), the fourth race of the final 10 events in the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."
The Banquet 400 is the 30th of 36 races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule. The first 26 races determined who would be part of the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Drivers outside the "Chase" will compete for the 11th spot, which will pay in excess of $1 million.
No. 1 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 5,519. Previous ranking: 5. Stewart continues to show the strong form that has helped lead the standings at eight of the last nine events. He finished second at Talladega and heads to Kansas, where he's recorded three top-10 finishes in four races. Along with leading the point standings, Stewart leads several key statistical categories, including laps led (1,484), miles led (2,253.34), wins (five), top-five finishes (14), top-10 finishes (20) and money won ($5,887,933).
No. 2 -- Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 5,515 (-4). Previous ranking: 3. Newman enters Sunday's race as the only Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup contender with a win at Kansas. Newman, who won the 2003 Kansas event en route to a sixth-place finish in the standings that year, is also the only driver with top-five finishes in the each of the first three races in the 2005 Chase. His 2003 Kansas victory was one of three top-five finishes Newman has scored at the track, tying him (with Jeff Gordon) for the most top-five's at the five-year-old facility. Over the course of the first three Chase races, Newman has gained the most ground overall -- from 10th at the start to second-place this week.
No. 3 -- Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 5,443 (-76). Previous ranking: 2. A 25th-place finish at Talladega caused Wallace to slip in the standings, yet he can be optimistic as the series heads to Kansas. He has three top-10 finishes at Kansas and has led 140 laps there, good for third overall in laps led at the track.
No. 4 -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 5,437 (-82). Previous ranking: 1. Johnson's 31st-place finish at Talladega was costly, but the No. 48 team has no reason to get flustered. One year ago, Johnson trailed points leader Kurt Busch by 159 points heading to the fourth race of the Chase at Kansas. By the end of the year, Johnson had made up all but eight points of that difference and finished second in the final tally. Johnson has recorded two top-10 finishes in three trips to Kansas Speedway.
No. 5 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,421 (-98). Previous ranking: 6. Although he finished 27th, 18 laps off the pace, at Talladega, Biffle managed to gain one position in this week's standings. He is tied with Stewart for the most wins on the circuit (five) and has one top-five finish at Kansas -- a third-place result in last year's race. Biffle led 64 laps at Kansas last year.
No. 6 -- Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,419 (-100). Previous ranking: 8. In his first full season of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing, Edwards is a solid contender in the top 10. This week, he heads to his "home track" -- located 130 miles from his hometown of Columbia, Mo. -- just 100 points out of first place and up two positions in the standings following a fifth-place finish at Talladega. Edwards' 22nd-place finish at Kansas last season came in his eighth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start. Since then, he's logged 34 more starts and won races at Atlanta and Pocono.
No. 7 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,408 (-111). Previous ranking: 9. Kenseth's third-place finish at Talladega was his second top-five finish in 24 career restrictor-plate races (i.e. events held at Daytona or Talladega). The performance helped Kenseth improve to seventh in the point standings and can now focus on improving his Kansas record, which includes one top-10 finish in four races.
No. 8 -- Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 5,407 (-112). Previous ranking: 7. Mayfield entered the Chase ranked seventh, then dropped to eighth after finishing 16th at New Hampshire. After rebounding with a top-10 finish at Dover, Mayfield finds himself back in the eighth position, following his 14th-place result at Talladega. Kansas has been kind to Mayfield, who has three top-10 finishes there including a fifth-place run last season.
No. 9 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,381 (-138). Previous ranking: 6. Last week, Martin was the lone Chase contender to have logged a win at Talladega Superspeedway. This week, Martin can't claim that psychological advantage; only Newman has a previous NASCAR NEXTEL Cup win at Kansas. For Martin, his 2001 Kansas debut resulted in a sixth-place finish, however he's finished outside the top-20 in his last three races there.
No. 10 -- Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,339 (-180). Previous ranking: 10. Busch remained in the 10th spot this week despite an eighth-place finish at Talladega. The defending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion entered the Chase ranked fifth, but fell to 10th after troubles at New Hampshire kept him out of contention and he finished 35th in the first race of the Chase. Any given driver can make up 15 points over their competitors in a single race, if they win and lead the most laps. Although his 180-point deficit seems large, with seven races remaining until the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title is decided, Busch can keep his sights set on a repeat championship. Fast Facts
Top 10 following the UAW-GM 500 (Race 29 of 36):
1. Tony Stewart 5,519 pts.
2. Ryan Newman 5,515 (-4)
3. Rusty Wallace 5,443 (-76)
4. Jimmie Johnson 5,437 (-82)
5. Greg Biffle 5,421 (-98)
6. Carl Edwards 5,419 (-100)
7. Matt Kenseth 5,408 (-111)
8. Jeremy Mayfield 5,407 (-112)
9. Mark Martin 5,381 (-138)
10. Kurt Busch 5,339 (-180)
11th place: Kevin Harvick.