Race to the Chase Rundown: Richmond

Race to the Chase Rundown: Richmond A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10, as the 'Chase' approaches DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 5, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Saturday ...

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

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 5, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Saturday night's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway (7:40 p.m. on TNT) the final event in the "Race to the Chase," the 10 events prefacing the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."

The Chevy Rock & Roll is the 26th 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: 3,570. Previous ranking: 1. Stewart finished fifth at California, giving him a series-leading 17 top-10 finishes this season. A five-race winner this year, Stewart was the first driver to clinch a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. He has competed in 13 races at Richmond with eight top-10 finishes, including victories in 2002, 2001 and 1999. Stewart has placed 19th or worse in four of his last six races at Richmond; his other two efforts were top fives. He finished 19th in this race last year and second in May. Stewart has a 12.5 average finish at Richmond.

No. 2 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Charter Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 3,361 (-209). Previous ranking: 3. Biffle finished second at California to advance one spot in the rankings. He has 14 top-10 finishes this season, and has ranked among the top five in the standings since the first race at California, in February. Biffle, who has five victories this year, ranked 22nd in the points after 25 races last year. He has run six races at Richmond, logging top-10 finishes in his last two races there. His first four efforts were 17th or worse. Biffle finished eighth in this race last year and sixth in May, his best effort at the track to date. Biffle, who has led in two of his six Richmond races, has a 17.5 average finish there.

No. 3 -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 3,312 (-258). Previous ranking: 2. Johnson finished 16th at California; he has ranked among the top 10 since Las Vegas in March 2004, 58 consecutive races. He has 15 top-10 finishes this year, including two victories. Johnson has competed in seven races at Richmond with one top-10 finish, a second in 2004. He finished 36th in this race last year and 40th in May, his worst effort at the .75-mile track and his lone DNF. Johnson has a 24.0 average finish there.

No. 4 -- Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 3,257 (-313). Previous ranking: 4. Wallace finished 15th at California to extend to a series-leading 38 the number of consecutive races in which he has been running at the finish. He has 13 top-10 finishes this season. Wallace has competed in 43 races at Richmond with 29 top-10 finishes, including six victories. He has led 3,023 laps in 24 of his races at the Virginia short track, the second most among drivers. But he has not led a lap in his last seven races there. Wallace finished 10th in this race last year and 19th in May. He has a 9.39 average finish at Richmond.

No. 5 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 3,149 (-421). Previous ranking: 5. Martin finished 11th at California to become the fifth and final driver to clinch a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup entering Richmond. He has 12 top-10 finishes this season. Martin has competed in 39 races at Richmond with 22 top-10 finishes, including a victory in 1990. He finished fifth in this race last year and 15th in May. Martin has a 12.3 average finish at Richmond.

No. 6 -- Kurt Busch (No. 97 Smirnoff/Sharpie Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 3,114 (-456). Previous ranking: 7. The reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion finished 12th at California; he will become the sixth driver to clinch a spot in the championship contest when he starts his car at Richmond. Busch has 13 top-10 finishes this year. He has competed in nine races at Richmond with one top-10 finish, an eighth in 2003. He placed 15th in this race last year and 17th in May. Busch has a 20.3 average finish at Richmond.

No. 7 -- Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 3,073 (-497). Previous ranking: 6. Mayfield placed 26th at California; he will secure a spot in the title chase at Richmond with a finish of 39th or better. He has six top-10 finishes this year. Mayfield has run nine races at Richmond with one top-10 finish, a victory last year, which earned him the final slot in the 2004 championship chase. He finished 13th at Richmond in May, and has a 21.0 average finish there.

No. 8 -- Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 3,014 (-556). Previous ranking: 8. Edwards finished fourth at California, his 10th top-10 effort this season. He will earn a spot in the title chase with a finish of 19th or better at Richmond, regardless of any other driver's performance. Edwards finished sixth in this race last year and 21st in May. He has a 13.5 average finish at Richmond.

No. 9 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWALT Power Tools). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,939 (-631). Previous ranking: 11. Kenseth finished seventh at California, capping a three-race run in which he advanced from 16th to ninth in the rankings. He has 10 top-10 finishes this season. Kenseth has competed in 11 races at Richmond with six top-10 finishes, including a victory in 2002. He placed 28th in this race last year and 12th in May; he has a 14.2 average finish at Richmond. Kenseth is 11 points ahead of 11th-place Ryan Newman, and is one of 11 drivers seeking one of the four remaining slots in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

No. 10 -- Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge). Team: Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates. Points: 2,929 (-641). Previous ranking: 12. McMurray finished eighth at California, his eighth top-10 effort this year. He has competed in five races at Richmond with two top-10 finishes, a ninth-place effort a year ago and a 10th in May. He has a 19.6 average finish at Richmond. McMurray is one point ahead of No. 11 Ryan Newman; 30 points ahead of No. 12 Jeff Gordon and 52 points ahead of No. 13 Elliott Sadler.

Fast Facts

Top 10 following the Sony HD 500 (Race 25 of 36):
1. Tony Stewart 3,570 pts.
2. Greg Biffle 3,361 (-209)
3. Jimmie Johnson 3,312 (-258)
4. Rusty Wallace 3,257 (-313)
5. Mark Martin 3,149 (-421)
6. Kurt Busch 3,114 (-456)
7. Jeremy Mayfield 3,073 (-497)
8. Carl Edwards 3,014 (-556)
9. Matt Kenseth 2,939 (-631)
10. Jamie McMurray 2,929 (-641)

New arrivals in the Top 10: Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray.

Dropped out of the Top 10: Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon.

Closing in on the Top 10: No. 11 Ryan Newman (-1 pt. out of 10th); No. 12 Jeff Gordon (-30); No. 13 Elliott Sadler (-52); No. 14 Dale Jarrett (-117); No. 15 Kevin Harvick (-131).

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Carl Edwards , Chip Ganassi , Elliott Sadler , Felix Sabates , Mark Martin
Teams Team Penske , Joe Gibbs Racing