Chase loop update 2006-09-25

Burton Leads Field Heading into Kansas * Gordon coming on strong * Make-or-break time for drivers outside top five DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 25, 2006) -- The second race in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup is now complete and Jeff Burton...

Burton Leads Field Heading into Kansas

* Gordon coming on strong
* Make-or-break time for drivers outside top five

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 25, 2006) -- The second race in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup is now complete and Jeff Burton has emerged as the new points leader. Burton leads four-time series champion, Jeff Gordon, by six points heading to this weekend's event at Kansas Speedway.

NASCAR's new Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Loop Data report shows Burton has the third-best Driver Rating thus far in the Chase with a rating of 111.1.

Although he has the third-lowest Average Starting Position of 20.5, he has been able to make his way to the front of the field. Burton has the best Average Mid-Race Position of 5.5 and the second-best Average Finish of 4.0.

Gordon, meanwhile, appears set for a serious run at a fifth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship this season, according to his Loop Data statistics.

He has arguably the best overall performance in the Chase so far, as the only driver to record two top-five finishes. He also has the best Average Starting Position of 1.5 and the best Average Finishing Position of 3.0 in the Chase. Additionally, Gordon also has the highest Average Running Position in the Chase of 6.280.

Gordon has completed 94.3% of his Laps in the Top 15 during the Chase to lead that category. Matt Kenseth has completed the second-most Laps in the Top 15 with 88% of his laps being run in the top 15.

None of the Chase drivers outside of the top five in the standings have recorded a top-10 finish in the Chase. Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have the highest Driver Ratings of the drivers outside of the top five with ratings of 91.8 and 95.9, respectively.

Kyle Busch is continuing to struggle during the Chase. He has the lowest Average Running Position of 32.853. He has also completed the fewest number of Laps in the Top 15 -- only 12.1%.

From Stefan Kretschmann of STATS LLC (the company that compiles NASCAR's Loop Data):

"Matt Kenseth sits third in the points, but is dominating in the most important Loop Data categories. Kenseth has the best season-to-date Driver Rating (105.2) besting second place Jeff Gordon (99.4). He also leads in Average Running Position (10.596) edging out Gordon again (10.870). He's spent the most time in the top 15 (82.3% of laps run), led the most laps (13.6%) and led the most miles (1372.37). Kenseth has also spent the most time on the lead lap (94.3% of laps run), where the 10 Chase drivers comprise the top ten positions on this chart as well. Kenseth is also riding a hot streak over the past six races which has seen him grab a top-10 finish in each race. His Driver Rating over that span has been an incredible 118.0 and has an Average Running Position of 6.250. He's spent 22.4% of those laps in the lead and 95.6% of those laps running in the top 15. With an Average Driver Rating of 94.2 at the remaining tracks for the season, Matt Kenseth is in good position to make a run for his second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship."

Loop Logic ...

* The drivers outside of the top five in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup have combined to lead only one-tenth of the laps run so far in the Chase.

* Looking ahead to the remaining Chase tracks, Mark Martin may have his best shot at winning a championship. Martin leads all Chase contenders in cumulative Driver Rating at the remaining Chase tracks with 98.7.

* If Hamlin hopes to win a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship this season, he will need to keep his car near the front of the field on a more consistent basis at the eight remaining Chase tracks. Hamlin has the lowest Percentage of Fastest Laps and Percent of Laps Led in the Chase running the fastest laps only two-tenths of the time and leading only six-tenths of the time.

FAST FACTS <pre> Chase Season-to-Date 1. Jeff Gordon 114.3 99.4 2. Matt Kenseth 111.6 105.2 3. Jeff Burton 111.1 97.9 4. Kevin Harvick 107.3 97.5 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 95.9 92.0 6. Mark Martin 91.8 91.1 7. Denny Hamlin 90.0 93.8 8. Jimmie Johnson 72.9 97.3 9. Kasey Kahne 60.6 91.4 10. Kyle Busch 54.7 92.2

-credit: nascar

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