Chase for the Cup: Martinsville

Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Martinsville DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 16, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway, the sixth event of the 10 that...

Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Martinsville

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 16, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway, the sixth event of the 10 that make up the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."

The Subway 500 (12:30 p.m. ET on NBC) is the 32nd 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 who were in the top 10 after the 26th race.

No. 1 -- Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 5,763. Burton finished third at Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS) to retain the lead in the standings for the fourth consecutive week. He is the only driver to lead in four of the five Chase races. Burton has 19 top-10 finishes in 2006. He was ranked 18th at this point last season. Burton has one victory (1997) and 12 top-10 finishes in 24 races at Martinsville, where he has a 14.292 average finish, fourth among Chase contestants. He finished fifth in this race last year and 33rd in April. The fifth-place effort was Burton's only top-10 showing in his last five Martinsville events. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Burton is ranked second in Fastest Drivers Early in a Run (8.143).

No. 2 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,718. Kenseth finished 14th at LMS to remain second in the standings. He has top-10 finishes in three of five Chase events. Kenseth has ranked in the top five since the season's second race, a victory at California, 30 consecutive races. He has three top-10 finishes in 13 races at Martinsville, where he has a 17.230 average finish, sixth among Chase drivers. Kenseth's best Martinsville showing was second in 2002. He finished 12th in this race a year ago and 24th in April. Kenseth has one top-10 finish in his last eight races at the Virginia short track. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kenseth is ranked first in Average Running Position (11.134).

No. 3 -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet): Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 5,674. Harvick finished 18th at LMS to climb one spot in the standings. He has ranked among the top 10 in the last 25 races, since Texas in April. Harvick was ranked 12th in the standings at this point in 2005. He has 16 top-10 finishes this season. Harvick has three top-10 finishes in 10 races at Martinsville, where he has a 19.10 average finish, ninth among Chase drivers. He finished 15th in this race last year and seventh in April, tying his best Martinsville finish in 2003. Harvick has led in four of his 10 Martinsville events. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Harvick is ranked first in Fastest Drivers on Restarts. (10.774).

No. 4 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,661. Martin finished 30th at LMS to drop one position in the standings. The DNF was his first in 2006, ending a streak of 37 races running at the finish. He has yet to win a race in 2006; his best Chase finish is third at Kansas. Martin has two victories (2000 and 1992) and 21 top-10 finishes at Martinsville, where he has a 13.170 average finish, third among Chase drivers. He finished 34th in this race last year and 13th in April. Martin has led one lap in his last nine Martinsville races. Five of his six DNFs came in his first 11 races there. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Martin is ranked seventh in Average Running Position (13.253).

No. 5 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). Team: Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Points: 5,657. Earnhardt finished fourth at LMS to climb one spot in the standings; it was his second top-10 finish in five Chase races. He was ranked 20th in the standings at this point last season. Earnhardt has six top-five finishes in 13 races at Martinsville, where he has a 14.384 average finish, fifth among Chase competitors. He finished 18th in this race a year ago and fourth in April. Earnhardt has led in four of his 13 Martinsville events. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Earnhardt is ranked seventh in Fastest Laps Run (404).

No. 6 -- Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 5,626. Hamlin finished 28th at LMS to drop one spot in the standings. He has two top-10 finishes (in the first two races) in the Chase. 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 31 races this year, and has been running at the finish in the last 25. His two Martinsville starts include an eighth-place finish in this race last year and a 37th-place DNF in April. Hamlin has a Chase-lowest 22.5 average finish at Martinsville, where he has yet to lead. Season-to-date Loop Data: Hamlin is ranked sixth in Mile Leaders (805.75).

No. 7 -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 5,617. Johnson finished second at LMS, his first top-five finish in his last 10 races, to climb one spot in the standings. The finish ended a six-race streak without a top-10 finish, the longest of his career. He has ranked among the top 10 for 100 consecutive races, since Atlanta in March 2004. Johnson has one victory (2004) and eight consecutive top-10 finishes in nine races at Martinsville, where he has a 7.88 average finish, second among Chase drivers. He finished third in this race last year and third again in April. Johnson has led in three Martinsville events. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Johnson is ranked fourth in Average Running Position (11.688).

No. 8 -- Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 5,603. Kahne topped the field at LMS, his victory bumping him up one spot in the standings. The victory also marked his second top-10 Chase finish. Kahne has won a series-leading six races in 2006. He has 16 top-10 finishes this year. Kahne was ranked 21st in the standings at this point last season. He has one top-10 finish (second in April 2005) in five races at Martinsville, where he has a 17.6 average finish, seventh among Chase contestants. Kahne finished 17th in this race last year and 35th in April. He has led in two of his five Martinsville starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kahne is ranked first in Fastest Drivers on Straightaways (7.506).

No. 9 -- Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 5,568. Busch finished sixth at LMS to advance one spot in the standings. He has 17 top-10 finishes in 2006. Busch has two top-10 finishes in three races at Martinsville, where he has a 17.666 average finish, eighth among Chase drivers. He finished ninth in this race last year and fifth in April. Busch placed 39th (a DNF) in his first Martinsville start. He has yet to lead a lap at the .526-mile speedway. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Busch is ranked seventh in Fastest Drivers Early in a Run (9.200).

No. 10 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 5,547. Gordon finished 24th at LMS to drop from seventh to 10th in the standings. The DNF was his seventh in 2006 and third in the last three races. Gordon had two third-place finishes in his first two Chase races. He is the only driver with three DNFs in the first five Chase events. Gordon has seven victories, the most recent in this race last year, and 21 top-10 finishes in 27 races at Martinsville, where he has a 7.629 average finish, first among Chase drivers. He has finished first or second in five of his last seven races at Martinsville; he has top-10 finishes in his last seven races there. Gordon finished second at Martinsville in April. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Gordon is ranked second in Average Running Position (11.181).

Fast Facts

Top 10 following Lowe's (race 31 of 36):
1. Jeff Burton 5,763 (pts)
2. Matt Kenseth 5,718 (-45)
3. Kevin Harvick 5,674 (-89)
4. Mark Martin 5,661 (-102)
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5,657 (-106)
6. Denny Hamlin* 5,626 (-137)
7. Jimmie Johnson 5,617 (-146)
8. Kasey Kahne 5,603 (-160)
9. Kyle Busch 5,568 (-195)
10. Jeff Gordon 5,547 (-216)

Weeks at No. 1: Burton (4).

Contending for 11th:
11. Tony Stewart 3,948
12. Carl Edwards 3,735
13. Greg Biffle 3,549
14. Kurt Busch 3,419
15. Casey Mears 3,387
* Denotes Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.

-credit: nascar

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