Race to the Chase: Bristol

Race to the Chase Rundown: Bristol DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 21, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Saturday's Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, the eighth event in the "Race to the...

Race to the Chase Rundown: Bristol

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 21, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Saturday's Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, the eighth event in the "Race to the Chase," the 10 events prefacing the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."

The Sharpie 500 (7 p.m. EDT on TNT) is the 24th of 36 races on the series' schedule. The first 26 races of the season will determine the drivers involved in the third annual Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup contested over the final 10 races. Drivers who are in the top 10 or within 400 points of the standings' leader after those 26 races will vie for the 2006 series title in the "Chase."

No. 1 -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 3,365. Johnson finished 13th at Michigan to lead the standings for the 15th consecutive race. He has a series-leading 17 top-10 finishes, four more than any other driver. Johnson has ranked among the top 10 for 92 consecutive races, since March 2004. Johnson has five top-10 finishes in nine races at Bristol Motor Speedway. He placed 36th in this race a year ago (his worst Bristol effort and lone DNF at the short track) and 30th in March. Johnson has a 16.111 average Bristol finish. His best Bristol finish (third) came in this race in 2004. He has led in three of his nine Bristol starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Johnson is ranked first in Average Running Position (11.003).

No. 2 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 3,307. Kenseth finished first at Michigan, his third victory this season, to remain second in the standings for the 12th consecutive race. He has ranked among the top-five in the standings since his victory in the season's second race, at California, 22 consecutive events. Kenseth was ranked 15th at this point last season. He has one victory (August 2005) and eight top-10 finishes in 13 races at Bristol, where he has an 11.461 average finish. Kenseth has eight top-10 finishes in his last nine races at Bristol. He finished third there in March. Kenseth has been running at the finish in all but two of his 13 Bristol starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kenseth is ranked first in Driver Rating (103.4).

No. 3 -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 3,048. Harvick finished 11th at Michigan to retain his spot in the standings. He has ranked among the top 10 in the last 17 races, since Texas in April. He ranked 14th in the standings at this point in 2005. Harvick has 13 top-10 finishes in 2006. He has one victory (March 2005) and eight top-10 finishes in 11 races at Bristol, where he has a 10.545 average finish. Harvick finished 37th in this race a year ago (his worst finish and only Bristol DNF) and second in March. He has led in seven of his 11 Bristol races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Harvick is the second-ranked Closer (36).

No. 4 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,970. Martin finished fifth at Michigan to climb two spots in the rankings. He has had only one DNF (at Talladega in October 2005, due to an accident) in the 48 events since Dover in June 2005. Martin has two victories (1998 and 1993) and 21 top-10 finishes in 39 races at Bristol, where he has a 12.435 average finish. He placed 16th in this race last year and sixth in March. Martin has led in 18 of his 39 Bristol starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Martin is ranked fifth in Average Running Position (12.659).

No. 5 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 2,959. Stewart finished third at Michigan, his fourth top-10 effort in the last four races. He ranked first in the standings at this point last season. Stewart has one victory (2001) and five top-10 finishes in 15 races at Bristol, where he has a 16.266 average finish. He finished eighth in this race a year ago and 12th in March. Stewart has led in seven of his 15 Bristol starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Stewart is ranked second in Fastest Drivers Early in a Run (6.526).

No. 6 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 2,931. Gordon finished second at Michigan to climb three spots in the rankings, the biggest gain among drivers in the top 10. He has 10 top-10 finishes in 2006. Gordon's four DNFs are the most among drivers in the top 10. He has five victories (the most recent in this race in 2002) and 16 top-10 finishes in 27 races at Bristol. Gordon finished sixth in this race last year and 21st in March. He has led 2,388 laps at Bristol, fifth best all-time. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Gordon is ranked third in Fastest Drivers Late in a Run (8.842).

No. 7 -- Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 2,922. Busch finished 39th at Michigan to drop from fifth to seventh in the rankings. He ranked 22nd at this point last season. Busch has 12 top-10 finishes this season and just one DNF, due to an accident at Lowe's Motor Speedway. He has run three races at Bristol, finishing 33rd in this race a year ago and eighth in March, his only top-10 finish there. He has led in one of his three Bristol starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Busch is ranked seventh in Fastest Drivers on Straightaways (10.463).

No. 8 -- Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 2,920. Hamlin finished ninth at Michigan, his 11th top-10 showing in 2006. He has been the highest-finishing rookie in 12 of the 23 races this season, including triumphs in both events at Pocono. Hamlin has competed in one race at Bristol, finishing 14th in March. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Hamlin is ranked third in Fastest Drivers Early in a Run (8.143).

No. 9 -- Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 2,916. Burton finished 42nd at Michigan to drop five spots in the rankings, the most positions of drivers in the top 10. He posted his first DNF since Talladega last October. Burton has 13 top-10 finishes in 2006. He ranked 21st in the standings at this point last season. Burton has nine top-10 finishes in 25 races at Bristol, where he has a 19.6 average finish. He placed ninth in this race last year and 34th in March. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Burton is ranked fourth in Fastest Drivers in Turns (9.018).

No. 10 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). Team: Dale Earnhardt Inc. Points: 2,881. Earnhardt finished sixth at Michigan to retain his spot in the standings. He has one victory (2004) and six top-10 finishes in 13 races at Bristol, where he has a 13.230 average finish. Earnhardt placed ninth in this race last year and 11th in March. He has been running at the finish of all but his first Bristol event. Earnhardt has led in four of his 13 starts at the half-mile track. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Earnhardt is ranked fifth in Green Flag Passes (1,874).

Fast Facts

Top 10 following Michigan (race 23 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 3,365 (pts)
2. Matt Kenseth 3,307 (-58)
3. Kevin Harvick 3,048 (-317)
4. Mark Martin 2,970 (-395)
5. Tony Stewart 2,959 (-406)
6. Jeff Gordon 2,931 (-434)
7. Kyle Busch 2,922 (-443)
8. Denny Hamlin* 2,920 (-445)
9. Jeff Burton 2,916 (-449)
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,881 (-484)

Weeks at No. 1: Johnson (15).

New arrivals this week in the Top 10: None

Dropped out of the Top 10: None

Closing in on the Top 10:
11. Kasey Kahne 2,832
12. Greg Biffle 2,692
13. Carl Edwards 2,637
14. Kurt Busch 2,602
15. Brian Vickers 2,484

* Denotes Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing