Early Excitement: Manufacturers' Title Up For Grabs Chevrolet leads, but Dodge and Ford closing on General Motors' bumper DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 26, 2006) -- While NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers battle each other on the track and in the ...
Early Excitement: Manufacturers' Title Up For Grabs
Chevrolet leads, but Dodge and Ford closing on General Motors' bumper
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 26, 2006) -- While NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers battle each other on the track and in the series standings, the automotive manufacturers they represent are locked in a season-long title hunt all their own.
Three manufacturers -- Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford -- vie each year for the Manufacturers' Championship, and those standings are tightly locked through eight of 36 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup events.
Heading into Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, Chevrolet leads with 56 points and four wins. Dodge is second with 49 points and three wins. Ford is third with 47 points and one win.
While second-place Dodge trails Chevrolet by only five points, the margin is even tighter between Dodge and Ford -- only two points prevent a tie for second place. Dodge has held the runner-up spot for the last four races.
The 2006 season appears a renaissance for Dodge, which already has equaled its 2005 victory total. If Dodge adds victories, it will be on pace to amass the most single-season wins in more than 30 years.
Ford, meanwhile, remains in close pursuit. And although Chevrolet would appear the favorite at Talladega, having won 13 of the last 14 events there, Ford driver Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford) is the latest Talladega winner; he captured last October's event at the 2.66-mile venue -- the largest on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup schedule.
Dodge seeks its first Talladega win since August 1976, when Dave Marcis won the Talladega 500.
Some quick history: Until Dodge returned to NASCAR competition in 2001, the 1984 season marked the last time a Chrysler product made a start. Sterling Marlin's (No. 14 Waste Management Chevrolet) win at Michigan in August 2001 was the first NASCAR victory for a Chrysler product -- namely, Dodge -- since Neil Bonnett's Ontario, Calif., win in 1977. Dodge last had a multiple-car presence in 1978.
Upon returning, the brand led the Manufacturers' Championship for the first six races of 2002, the first time it had done so since March 14, 1976. The last time Dodge was second in the Manufacturers' Championship was April 18, 2004.
Six different drivers have won through eight series events.
Chevrolet's wins came at Daytona and Las Vegas with Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), at Martinsville with reigning series champion Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) and at Phoenix with Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet).
Dodge's wins came at Atlanta and Texas with Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) and at Bristol with Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge).
Ford's win came at California with Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWalt Power Tools Ford).