* Edwards returns to "home" track * Numbers reveal Martin, Busch remain Chase factors NEWS AND NOTES Shaken, Not Stirred ... The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings experienced a shake-up following last week's event at ...
* Edwards returns to "home" track
* Numbers reveal Martin, Busch remain Chase factors
NEWS AND NOTES
Shaken, Not Stirred ... The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings experienced a shake-up following last week's event at Talladega Superspeedway. The points shuffle saw nine of the 10 Chase contenders change positions. The 2002 series champion Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) moved from fifth to first, while former leader Johnson fell to fourth. Formerly in third-place, Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge) moved up to second, only four points behind Stewart. Johnson experienced a 31st-place race finish. Stewart finished second and Newman finished fourth. Only Busch left Talladega in his same point position of 10th, but he gained four points on ninth place, now held by Martin. Stewart has yet to win at Kansas. He hasn't led a single lap there, but has posted solid numbers. In the four Kansas races to date, he has one top five and three top-10 finishes. He would certainly like to improve on his 2004 performance: he qualified 24th and finished 14th. Reinforcing Stewart's Kansas potential are his finishes at a nearly identically configured track, Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. At the "Windy City" speedway, Stewart has a win, and other top finishes of second, third and fifth, in addition to a Bud Pole Award.
Stewart, crew chief Greg Zipadelli and the Home Depot Chevrolet team appear to be maintaining their well-muscled long-haul stride in the Chase. Last week's event at Talladega was the 10th race of the season in which they have led the most laps.
Stewart's first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship came in 2002 under the former points race format. He says the Chase format hasn't changed his race style:
"We take each race one week at a time just like we've done every other season," Stewart said. "You can't be worrying about the points. If you do your job each week and try to win the race, it's just like I've always said, the points will take care of themselves, no matter what the format is. If you change what you're doing just to adjust to the Chase points system, I think you're going to run into trouble. If you always try to win, then that means you're always trying to get as many points as possible. I don't know why anyone would go away from that."
Coming home a winner ... The weekend will be a triumphant homecoming for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford). Edwards grew up in Columbia, Mo., a couple of hours east of Kansas City via Interstate-70. From 1997-1999, Edwards competed in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series at a dirt track near his home. In competing in three different divisions in each of those three years, he won a pair of rookie of the year awards, two divisional track championships, and 26 feature event wins.
The Banquet 400 is Edward's first "home" NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series appearance since his pair of wins earlier this season at Atlanta and Pocono, which helped earn him the opportunity to contend in the Chase. Edwards arrives at the track on an upswing, having jumped from eighth to sixth in the series' championship point standings. He has competed at the track only once prior to this weekend's event. Last year, he qualified 16th and finished 27th.
Edwards' single prior NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start at Kansas is supplemented by three highly competitive NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events there. He posted a remarkable truck win there in 2004 after wrecking on the second lap of the event. He rebounded and won that day. He also posted a second-place finish there in 2002, and an eighth-place run in 2001, which was his first top-10 finish in that series. Like points leader Tony Stewart, Edwards has yet to lead a single lap at Kansas Speedway.
Previous win but no comfort ... This Sunday's Sunflower State spectacular is crucial in the countdown to the series championship, and its outcome could play a significant roll in the strategy for the final six Chase races. However, only one Chase driver, Ryan Newman, has previously won at Kansas. As if fate wants to subtract any comfort Newman could get from that 2003 win, he qualified seventh but finished 33rd due to an accident in the 2004 event. Other prior Kansas winners include Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) twice, and Joe Nemechek (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet) last year.
Army of One ... Defending Banquet 400 champion Joe Nemechek was the dominant force in last year's Kansas Speedway battle, when he became the first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver to win the event from the pole. He also set an event record average speed of 128.058 mph in scoring his fourth career win. Nemechek has yet to win in 2005, although he scored his ninth career Bud Pole Award at Michigan in August. Nemechek stands 15th in series points entering the Kansas event, and could be a "spoiler" in keeping a Chase driver out of victory lane.
Duos of Double Digits ... Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) and Mark Martin remain the only two 2005 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup contenders to have not won an official points race this year. Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Post-It Ford) lead the series with five wins each. Biffle is fifth in series points. Wallace is expected to make his milestone 700th career series start in the Banquet 400.
Titles Times Four ... Four previous NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champions are in the 2005 Chase, and if any of those four win this year, it would be their second title. Among them: Currently first, Tony Stewart, 2002; currently third, Rusty Wallace, 1989; currently seventh, Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford), 2003; and Kurt Busch, 2004.
More Milestones at Kansas ... Ricky Rudd (No. 21 Motorcraft Ford) is expected to make his 782nd consecutive NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start at Kansas, the all-time record for consecutive starts; Mark Martin is expected to make his 575th consecutive start, third on the all-time list. In the four previous events run at Kansas Speedway, eight drivers have been running at the finish of all. They are: Tony Stewart, Joe Nemechek, Rusty Wallace, Ken Schrader (No. 49 Schwan's Dodge), Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers./UAW Dodge), Jeff Gordon, Robby Gordon (No. 7 Menard's Chevrolet) and Rudd; Chevrolet has won three of the four previous NNCS events at Kansas. Dodge has won once and Ford has yet to win.
Manufacturers Standings ... Chevrolet continues to dominate the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series with 14 wins in 29 races to date. Ford has 12 wins and Dodge has three. At Kansas, Chevrolet has three wins while Dodge has one.
Proven leaders ... In the four previous NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events at Kansas Speedway, which Chase drivers have led the most laps? Rusty Wallace, 140; Ryan Newman, 117; Jeremy Mayfield, 109; Greg Biffle, 64; Jimmie Johnson, 20; Matt Kenseth, 14; Kurt Busch, 3; Mark Martin, 2; Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart, 0.
Kansas native first in NASCAR ... A Kansas native has the distinction of winning the very first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event. Jim Roper of Halstead, in South Central Kansas, won on the .750-mile dirt oval of Charlotte (N.C.) Speedway on June 19, 1949. Roper, a local dirt track driver, read about the Charlotte race in the Smilin' Jack newspaper comic strip. Zack Mosely, the artist, was a race fan and friend of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. Mosely wanted to help spread the word about the race and used it as part of the comic strip's story line. Roper qualified his 1949 Lincoln in 12th position in a field of 33. Glenn Dunnaway of Gastonia, N.C., won the race, but lost when inspection found rear springs that did not conform to the rules. Roper, who finished second, became the event's official winner.
The NASCAR Leaderboard ... Tony Stewart rebounded to lead the Chase standings entering the Banquet 400. He's been a driving force in 2005. Stewart leads the series in winnings ($5,887,933), top fives (14), top 10s (20), and he is tied with Jimmie Johnson in the "most wins" category with five.
Women's Health Themed Car ... At Kansas Speedway, Eastman Kodak Company will use their sponsorship of the No. 77 Kodak Racing Dodge driven by Travis Kvapil to promote the importance of annual mammograms. The car's graphics will feature a unique mammography products theme.
"The key to defeating breast cancer is early detection, diagnosis and treatment," said Jane Hasselkus, U.S. and Canada Business Manager for Women's Health. "At Kodak, we offer a broad portfolio of both digital and traditional mammography products designed to help medical professionals improve patient care and help beat this deadly disease."
On Deck: Lowe's Motor Speedway ... The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series moves to Lowe's Motor Speedway for the UAW-GM Quality 500, on Oct. 15. Jimmie Johnson is the defending race winner. He has three wins, four top-fives and six top-10s in seven starts at Lowe's.
The race: Banquet 400 presented by ConAgra Foods
The track: Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kan.
The date/time: Sunday, Oct. 9, 2:10 p.m. (ET).
TV: NBC, 1:30 p.m. (ET).
Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.
Posted awards: $5,830,750.
Race length: 400 miles, 267 laps.
Track layout: 1.5-mile tri-oval.
2004 winner: Joe Nemechek.
2004 polesitter: Joe Nemechek.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Tony Stewart 5,519. 2. Ryan Newman 5,515. 3. Rusty Wallace 5,443. 4. Jimmie Johnson 5,437. 5. Greg Biffle 5,421. 6. Carl Edwards 5,419. 7. Matt Kenseth 5,408. 8. Jeremy Mayfield, 5,407. 9. Mark Martin, 5,381.10. Kurt Busch 5,339.