Race to the Chase rundown: Pocono

Race to the Chase Rundown: Pocono DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 17, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway, the fourth event in the "Race to the Chase," the...

Race to the Chase Rundown: Pocono

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 17, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway, the fourth event in the "Race to the Chase," the 10 events preceding the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."

The Pennsylvania 500 (1:30 p.m. EDT on TNT) is the 20th 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: 2,789. Johnson finished ninth at New Hampshire, padding his lead in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings from 51 to 68 points over No. 2 Matt Kenseth. He is the only driver with 15 top-10 finishes this season. Johnson has been among the top 10 for 88 consecutive races, since March 2004. He has three victories in 2006, second to No. 6 Kasey Kahne's four. Johnson has two victories (both 2004 events) and five top-10 finishes in nine starts at Pocono for a series-leading 8.333 average finish. He has logged top-15 finishes in his nine Pocono races, the longest current streak. Johnson finished 12th in this race last year, 10th this past June. He has led in four of his Pocono races, and has been running at the finish of all nine events. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Johnson is top-ranked in Quality Passes (1,162).

No. 2 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,721. Kenseth finished 14th at New Hampshire to retain his spot in the standings for the eighth consecutive race. He has ranked in the top five since the season's second race, a victory at California. Kenseth ranked 16th in the standings at this point last season. He has six top-10 finishes in 13 races at Pocono; his best effort there (third) came in 2003. Kenseth finished a career-worst 36th in this race a year ago and fifth in June; he has a 15.384 average Pocono finish. Kenseth has led in six of his 13 Pocono races, but never for more than 10 laps. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kenseth is ranked second in Driver Rating (103.4).

No. 3 -- Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 2,478. Burton finished seventh at New Hampshire to climb one spot in the rankings. He has 12 top-10 finishes this season. Burton ranked 17th in the standings at this point in 2005. He has 12 top-10 finishes in 25 races at Pocono; his average finish there is 17.480. Burton's best Pocono effort was second (twice), most recently in July 2000. He finished a career-worst 37th in this race last year and ninth in June, his only top-10 effort in his last five Pocono events. Burton has led in 14 Pocono races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Burton is ranked third in Percentage of Laps Run on Lead Lap (92.82).

No. 4 -- Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 2,455. Busch logged his first victory of 2006 at New Hampshire to climb four spots in the standings. He has advanced from 12th to fourth in the last three races. He has 10 top-10 finishes and one DNF (an accident at Lowe's Motor Speedway) in 2006. Busch ranked 19th at this point in 2005. He has run three races at Pocono, including a 39th-place effort in this race last year and 22nd in June. Busch has yet to lead a lap at the Pennsylvania track. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Busch is ranked third in Time Trailing at Finish (91.263).

No. 5 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,451. Martin finished fourth at New Hampshire, his 13th top-10 effort this season. He has had only one DNF (at Talladega in October 2005, due to an accident) in the 44 events since the in June 2005 event at Dover. Martin has 27 top-10 finishes in 39 races at Pocono, where he has yet to win, but has placed second six times, most recently in August 2004. He has a 10.666 average Pocono finish, third among active drivers. Martin finished third in this race last year and 17th in June. He has led in 25 Pocono races. Martin hasn't won since last October at Kansas, 25 races ago. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Martin ranks fourth in Consecutive Passes Without Being Passed (34).

No. 6 -- Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 2,445. Kahne finished eighth at New Hampshire to drop one spot in the standings. His series-leading four victories this season came at Atlanta, Texas, Lowe's Motor Speedway and Michigan. Kahne has 11 top-10 finishes in 2006. He ranked 21st in the standings at this point last season. Kahne has run five races at Pocono, finishing 27th in this race last year and seventh in June. He has a 15.6 average finish at Pocono, where he has led two races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kahne is ranked fifth in Mile Leaders (562.41).

No. 7 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). Team: Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Points: 2,428. Earnhardt finished 43rd at New Hampshire (blown engine) to drop four spots in the standings. The showing was his worst of 2006 and his second DNF. He was 13th in the standings at this point in 2005. Earnhardt has four top-10 finishes in 13 races at Pocono, where he has a 16.923 average finish. He finished 32nd in this race last year and 14th in June. Earnhardt has not logged a top-10 finish in his last four Pocono races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Earnhardt is ranked first in Percentage of Laps Run on Lead Lap (93.67).

No. 8 -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 2,408. Harvick finished fifth at New Hampshire, his 10th top-10 effort this season. He has three top-10 finishes in 11 races at Pocono, where he has a 17.8 average finish. Harvick placed sixth in this race last year and 13th in June. He has yet to win at race at Pocono, and has been running at the finish in all but two races there. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Harvick in ranked ninth in Mile Leaders (294.71).

No. 9 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 2,342. Gordon finished 15th at New Hampshire to climb one spot in the standings. His four DNFs in 2006 are the most of any top-10 driver. Gordon has three victories and 18 top-10 finishes in 27 races at Pocono; his most recent win came in this race in 1998. He finished 13th in this race last year and 34th in June. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Gordon is ranked first in Average Running Position (10.764).

No. 10 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Subway Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,342. Biffle finished third at New Hampshire to crack the top 10 in the standings. He ranked second at this point last season. Biffle has scored more points than any other driver in the last 10 races, including 113 more than top-ranked Jimmie Johnson. He has climbed from 23rd to 10th in the standings since Talladega in April. Biffle is the only driver to lead at least one lap in 15 of the 19 races in 2006. He has two top-10 finishes in seven races at Pocono, where he has a 16.428 average finish. Biffle finished 17th in this race last year and sixth in June. He has led in three races at Pocono, but has yet to lead the most laps. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Biffle is ranked first in Driver Rating (104.6).

Fast Facts

Top 10 following New Hampshire (race 19 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 2,789 pts
2. Matt Kenseth 2,721 (-68)
3. Jeff Burton 2,478 (-311)
4. Kyle Busch 2,455 (-334)
5. Mark Martin 2,451 (-338)
6. Kasey Kahne 2,445 (-344)
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,428 (-361)
8. Kevin Harvick 2,408 (-381)
9. Jeff Gordon 2,342 (-447)
10. Greg Biffle 2,342 (-447)

Weeks at No. 1: Johnson (11).

New arrival this week in the Top 10: Greg Biffle

Dropped out of the Top 10: Tony Stewart

Closing in on the Top 10:
11. Tony Stewart 2,331
12. Denny Hamlin* 2,324
13. Carl Edwards 2,196
14. Kurt Busch 2,136
15. Casey Mears 2,091

* Denotes Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.

-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 , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports