Race to the Chase begins at NHIS

2007 "Race To The Chase" Begins At New Hampshire International Speedway * 10-Race Stretch Culminates Sept. 8 at Richmond International Raceway * 'Race To The Chase' Sets Field For Chase For The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June...

2007 "Race To The Chase" Begins At New Hampshire International Speedway

* 10-Race Stretch Culminates Sept. 8 at Richmond International Raceway
* 'Race To The Chase' Sets Field For Chase For The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 25, 2007) -- Ten tracks, 10 excitement-filled weeks.

That's the scenario facing NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams as the advent of summer coincides with a seasonal mile marker: The "Race to the Chase."

The 2007 edition begins with Sunday's LENOX Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway, the first of a 10-event span culminating Sept. 8 at Richmond International Raceway, when the field will be set for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

As championship dreams heat up along with the weather, consider what the next 10 weeks could reveal:

* Will reigning series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) and '03 champion Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford) make their fourth consecutive Chase -- becoming the only drivers to do so?

* Will current points leader Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) continue to position himself to contend for his fifth series championship?

* Will two-time series champion Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) and Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) rebound from '06 misfortunes and return to Chase contention?

* Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) be a championship contender driving his final season for DEI?

* Will second-year drivers Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) and Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet) -- currently among the standings' top 12 -- make their first Chase?

* Can second-year driver Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet), last season's Raybestos Rookie of the Year, follow up with a series title?

* Can four-time series runner-up Mark Martin (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet) -- currently 15th in the standings -- qualify for his fourth consecutive Chase despite running a part-time schedule this season for Ginn Racing?

The Race to the Chase presents 10 different challenges -- plus the lure of traditional summer clashes on Daytona International Speedway's high-banked tri-oval; Indianapolis Motor Speedway's tricky turns; Watkins Glen International's demanding road course and the August mixing-bowl atmosphere under Bristol Motor Speedway's lights.

Add a schedule change, new to '07, which shifts Sunday's New Hampshire event ahead by two weeks, and symmetry resonates: Teams begin both the Race to the Chase and the Chase at the "Magic Mile."

A reminder: Changes new to the Chase format include the top 12 drivers being eligible for Chase contention. Previously, the top 10 drivers plus any within 400 points of the leader were eligible following race No. 26 at Richmond International Raceway -- the final event in the Race to the Chase.

Also new; drivers receive an extra 10 bonus points for each victory this season, placing an increased emphasis on winning. "Seeding" for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup will be done via the number of wins accumulated through the first 26 races rather than incremental point totals, as was the procedure during the Chase's previous three seasons.

The driver with the most wins will begin the Chase as the top seed. Drivers will be seeded second through 12th using their to-date win totals as the determining factor.

Fast Facts

What: 2007 Race to the Chase, the 10 races prior to the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

The Events:
July 1 -- New Hampshire International Speedway
July 7 -- Daytona International Speedway
July 15 -- Chicagoland Speedway
July 29 -- Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Aug. 5 -- Pocono Raceway
Aug. 12 -- Watkins Glen International
Aug. 19 -- Michigan International Speedway
Aug. 25 -- Bristol Motor Speedway
Sept. 2 -- California Speedway Sept. 8 -- Richmond International Raceway.

After Richmond: The top 12 drivers in the series standings will qualify for the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Martin Truex Jr. , Carl Edwards , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin , Mark Martin