Race to the Chase Rundown: Chicago A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10, as the 'Chase' approaches DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's USG...
Race to the Chase Rundown: Chicago
A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10, as the 'Chase' approaches
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's USG SHEETROCK 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, the first event in the "Race for the Chase," the 10 events prefacing the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."
The USG SHEETROCK 400 is the 18th 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 -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 2,378. Previous ranking: 2. Johnson finished sixth at Daytona to become the only driver to score 12 top-10 finishes in the first 17 races of 2005. He has ranked among the top 10 since Las Vegas in March 2004, or 50 consecutive races. Johnson has competed in three races at Chicagoland, and is one of four drivers to score three top-10 finishes there. He placed fourth in his first outing there in 2002, was third in 2003 and second in 2004. Johnson has led in all three Chicagoland races; his 3.0-average finish is the best of all drivers who have competed in more than one race there.
No. 2 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Subway Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,305 (-73). Previous ranking: 1. Biffle finished 36th at Daytona to relinquish the points lead to Johnson. A series-high five-race winner this season (California, Texas, Darlington, Dover and Michigan), he has 10 top-10 finishes, two fewer than Johnson. Biffle, who ranked 17th at this point in 2004, has run two races at Chicagoland, finishing 20th both times. He has never led a lap at the 1.5-mile speedway.
No. 3 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 2,242 (-136). Previous ranking: 4. Stewart won at Daytona for the first time in his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup career and celebrated by climbing all the way up the fence to the starter's stand. A winner the previous week at California's Infineon Raceway, he has advanced from 10th to third in the rankings in the last three races. Stewart has nine top-10 finishes this season. He has competed in all four races at Chicagoland, logging a victory last year, a second in 2003, a third in 2002 and a 33rd in 2001. Stewart has led a series-high 275 laps in his last three Chicagoland races.
No. 4 -- Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford). Team: Robert Yates Racing. Points: 2,178 (-200). Previous ranking: 3. Sadler finished 21st at Daytona. He has scored nine top-10 finishes this season, but has also finished 20th or worse in five races in 2005. He has competed in four races at Chicagoland with one top-10 finish, a ninth-place effort in 2003. Sadler placed 21st in this race last year and in 2002 and 15th in 2001. He has led in two of his four races there.
No. 5 -- Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 2,173 (-205). Previous ranking: 6. Wallace finished fourth in his final outing at Daytona. He has nine top-10 finishes this season. Wallace has placed 11th or better in his last six races, and has climbed from 14th to fifth in his last seven outings. He has been running at the finish of a series-high 30 consecutive races, since Bristol last fall. Wallace has competed in four races at Chicagoland, but has yet to log a top-10 finish. Wallace was 11th in this race last year; 32nd in 2003; 25th in 2002 and 13th in 2001. He has never had a DNF there.
No. 6 -- Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 2,115 (-263). Previous ranking: 7. Newman finished 14th at Daytona. He has eight top-10 finishes in 2005. Newman has competed in three races at Chicagoland, scoring a victory in 2003. He placed 34th last year and fifth in 2002. Newman has led in two of his three races there.
No. 7 -- Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge). Team: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Points: 2,093 (-285). Previous ranking: 10. McMurray finished a career-high second at Daytona to climb three spots in the rankings. He has advanced from 13th to seventh in the last four races. McMurray ranked 13th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings at this point in 2004. McMurray has competed in two races at Chicagoland, finishing 13th last season and eighth in 2003.
No. 8 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,068 (-310). Previous ranking: 5. Martin finished 39th in his final outing at Daytona, his worst finish in 2005. He has eight top-10 finishes this year. Martin has competed in four races at Chicagoland with two top-10 finishes, a sixth-place effort in 2001 and a ninth-place finish in 2002. He finished 14th in 2003 and 24th last year. Martin has led in three races there.
No. 9 -- Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,030 (-348). Previous ranking: 8. The reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion finished 37th at Daytona. He and tenth-ranked Dale Jarrett have the same number of points, but Busch gets the higher ranking on the strength of one victory (at Phoenix) this season. Busch has eight top-10 finishes in 2005. He has run four races at Chicagoland with two top-10 finishes, a sixth-place effort in 2002 and eighth in 2001. Busch finished 39th in 2003 and 35th last year. He has yet to lead a lap at Chicagoland.
No. 10 -- Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford). Team: Robert Yates Racing. Points: 2,030 (-348). Previous ranking: 12. Jarrett finished fifth at Daytona, his second fifth-place effort in as many weeks. He has climbed from 15th to 10th in the rankings in the last two races. Jarrett has five top-10 finishes in 17 races this year. He has competed in all four races at Chicagoland, with two top-five efforts. Jarrett finished third in this race last year, his best outing at the track to date.
Top 10 following the Pepsi 400 (Race 17 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 2,378 pts.
2. Greg Biffle 2,305 (-73)
3. Tony Stewart 2,242 (-136)
4. Elliott Sadler 2,178 (-200)
5. Rusty Wallace 2,173 (-205)
6. Ryan Newman 2,115 (-263)
7. Jamie McMurray 2,093 (-285)
8. Mark Martin 2,068 (-310)
9. Kurt Busch 2,030 (-348)
10. Dale Jarrett 2,030 (-348)
New arrival in the Top 10: Dale Jarrett.
Dropped out of the Top 10: Carl Edwards.
Closing in on the Top 10: No. 11 Jeremy Mayfield (-1 pt. out of 10th); No. 12 Carl Edwards (-3); No. 13 Jeff Gordon (-48); No. 14 Kevin Harvick (-84); No. 15 Jeff Burton (-139).