Race to the Chase Rundown: California

Race to the Chase Rundown: California A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10, as the 'Chase' approaches DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 29, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's...

Race to the Chase Rundown: California
A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10, as the 'Chase' approaches

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 29, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's SONY HD 500 at California Speedway (8 p.m. on NBC), the ninth event in the "Race to the Chase," the 10 events prefacing the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."

The SONY HD 500 is the 25th of 36 races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule. The first 26 races of the season determine who will be part of the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup in the final 10 races. Drivers who are in the top 10 or within 400 points of the leader after those 26 races will vie for the series title in the "Chase."

No. 1 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 3,410. Previous ranking: 1. Stewart finished eighth at Bristol, adding 87 points to his lead and clinching a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. He has a series-leading 16 top-10 finishes, including five victories, this season. Stewart has competed in eight races at California, scoring three top-10 finishes, but has finished outside the top 10 in his last five outings there. He finished 18th in this race a year ago and 17th in February. Stewart has a 17.4 average finish at California Speedway.

No. 2 -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 3,197 (-213). Previous ranking: 2. Johnson finished 36th at Bristol, his fourth DNF this season, but secured a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. He has 15 top-10 finishes this year, one less than Stewart, including two victories. Stewart has ranked among the top 10 since Las Vegas in March 2004, or 57 consecutive races. Johnson has run five races at California with three top-10 finishes, including a victory in 2002. He has placed first or second in three of his five races there. Johnson finished 14th in this race last year and was second in February. He has a 7.0 average finish at California.

No. 3 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Subway Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 3,186 (-224). Previous ranking: 3. Biffle finished third at Bristol to retain his spot in the rankings. He has 13 top-10 finishes, including five victories, this season. Biffle has run five races at California, finishing outside the top 10 in his first four races there, but logged his first victory in this race a year ago.

No. 4 -- Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 3,139 (-271). Previous ranking: 4. Wallace finished fifth at Bristol, his 13th top-10 finish this season. He has been running at the finish of a series-leading 37 consecutive races, and becomes the fourth driver to clinch a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup by just starting his engine at California. Wallace has competed in 10 races at California with a series-leading six top-10 finishes, including a victory in 2001. He finished 10th in this race a year ago and 10th in February, and has a 13.4 average finish at the 2-mile speedway.

No. 5 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 3,014 (-396). Previous ranking: 5. Martin finished 16th at Bristol to retain his spot in the rankings. He has 12 top-10 finishes this year. Martin has run 10 races at California with five top-10 finishes, including a victory in 1998. He has led 263 laps at California, second only to Jeff Gordon (410). Martin finished third in this race a year ago and seventh in February. He has a 14.6 average finish at California, and by virtue of his lead over 11th-ranked Matt Kenseth (226 points) will not fall out of the top 10 at California.

No. 6 -- Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 2,983 (-427). Previous ranking: 6. Mayfield finished 18th at Bristol to keep his spot in the standings. He has six top-10 finishes this year. Mayfield, who made the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup last season with a victory at the Richmond cutoff point, has run all 10 races at California with four top-10 finishes, including a victory in 2000. He finished 16th in this race last year and 28th in February. Mayfield, who has not logged a top-10 finish in his last five California starts, has a 15.8 average finish there.

No. 7 -- Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,982 (-428). Previous ranking: 7. The reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion finished 10th at Bristol, his 13th top-10 effort this season. He has competed in six races at California with three top-five finishes, including a victory in 2003. Busch finished 11th in this race a year ago and third in February. He has an 8.3 average finish at California, and will remain in the top-10 in the rankings no matter where he finishes there.

No. 8 -- Carl Edwards (No. 99 AAA/Office Depot Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,849 (-561). Previous ranking: 9. Edwards finished 24th at Bristol, good enough to advance one spot in the rankings. He has nine top-10 finishes this season. A relative newcomer at California, Edwards finished sixth in this race last year and was fifth in February. Along with Biffle, Martin and Busch, Edwards gives Jack Roush four drivers in the top 10 in the rankings, while teammate Matt Kenseth enters ranked 11th.

No. 9 -- Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 2,819 (-591). Previous ranking: 8. Newman finished 39th at Bristol, his third DNF this year. He has 10 top-10 finishes in 2005. Newman, who has a series-leading 21 top-10 starts this season, has run five races at California with three top-10 finishes in his last three races there. He placed fifth in this race last year and was ninth in February. Newman has a 14.6 average finish at California.

No. 10 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 2,799 (-611). Previous ranking: 12. Gordon finished sixth at Bristol to advance two spots in the rankings. He has nine top-10 finishes this season, and has climbed from 15th to 10th in the standings in the last four races. He has run 10 races at California, and has a series-leading three victories there, in May 2004, 1999 and 1997. He finished 37th in this race a year ago and 30th in February, his worst efforts there to date. Gordon has an 11.4 average finish at California.

Fast Facts

Top 10 following the Sharpie 500 (Race 24 of 36):
1. Tony Stewart 3,410 pts.
2. Jimmie Johnson 3,197 (-213)
3. Greg Biffle 3,186 (-224)
4. Rusty Wallace 3,139 (-271)
5. Mark Martin 3,014 (-396)
6. Jeremy Mayfield 2,983 (-427)
7. Kurt Busch 2,982 (-428)
8. Carl Edwards 2,849 (-561)
9. Ryan Newman 2,819 (-591)
10. Jeff Gordon 2,799 (-611)

New arrival in the Top 10: Jeff Gordon.

Dropped out of the Top 10: Jamie McMurray.

Closing in on the Top 10: No. 11 Matt Kenseth (-11 pts. out of 10th); No. 12 Jamie McMurray (-12); No. 13 Elliott Sadler (-34); No. 14 Dale Jarrett (-78); No. 15 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-117).

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Carl Edwards , Jack Roush , Elliott Sadler , Mark Martin
Teams Team Penske , Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing