Texas Motor Speedway ready for Chase race

Texas Motor Speedway Cut to the Chase Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Takes Green Flag on Sunday * Five of 10 Contenders Are Past Winners At Texas Motor Speedway * Dickies 500 To Play Critical Role In Chase Championship ...

Texas Motor Speedway Cut to the Chase
Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Takes Green Flag on Sunday

* Five of 10 Contenders Are Past Winners At Texas Motor Speedway

* Dickies 500 To Play Critical Role In Chase Championship Race

FORT WORTH, Texas (Sept. 14, 2006) -- The 10-driver field is set for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup to determine the 2006 champion. The 10-race dash begins Sunday in New Hampshire and will find its way to Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 5 for the Dickies 500, the eighth race in the Chase.

The Chase field features 2003 Cup champion Matt Kenseth leading the way in points as the championship battle begins. He is followed by two-time series runner-up Jimmie Johnson (-5), Kevin Harvick (-10), Kyle Busch (-15), rookie Denny Hamlin (-20), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-25), four-time series runner-up Mark Martin (-30), Jeff Burton (-35), four-time Cup series champion Jeff Gordon (-40) and Kasey Kahne (-45). Johnson, Kenseth and Martin are the only three drivers in the Chase this year who have qualified for the Chase all three seasons since its inception in 2004. Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon missed the Chase last year after making the inaugural Chase while Harvick, Busch, Hamlin and Kahne are making their first appearances.

The Chase field is quite familiar with Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway with five of the drivers having won Cup races at "The Great American Speedway!" Burton won the inaugural Cup race at TMS in 1997, Martin won in 1998, Earnhardt Jr. in 2000, Kenseth in 2002 and Kahne this spring. In addition, Martin (1997, '99, '00), Earnhardt Jr. (1998), Harvick (2001, fall '05), Kenseth (2004) and Kahne (spring 2005) have won Busch Series races at TMS. But those Chase participants who have yet to win at Texas Motor Speedway may not be at a disadvantage since there has never been a repeat Cup winner in the speedway's 10-year history.

"This is the strongest overall field ever for the Chase," Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said at Hotel ZaZa in Dallas, site of today's Cut to the Chase Luncheon hosted by TMS. "The 10 drivers competing for the championship represent the incredible balance we see in the sport today -- a mixture of experience and past champions along with some of the brightest young stars in NASCAR. Texas Motor Speedway fans are in for quite a show when the Chase comes to 'The Great American Speedway!' for the Dickies 500 on Nov. 5."

As the eighth race in the Chase, the Dickies 500 can catapult a driver into a commanding lead in the championship battle or be a turning point that tightens the field of contenders. Last year, eventual Cup champion Tony Stewart owned just a 43-point lead over Johnson coming to Texas. Johnson closed the gap to 38 points with his fifth-place finish (Stewart finished sixth) in the inaugural Dickies 500. A misstep by Stewart that day, however, could have been critical. With just two races to go, Stewart held on to win the title by 35 points over runner-up Greg Biffle.

"The concept of the Chase has added a tremendous level of excitement and anticipation to the final 10 races of the season," Gossage said. "Fans love a playoff format in sports, and with this year's Chase field, we are going to see one of the greatest battles ever for the championship."

For ticket information regarding the Nov. 3 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Silverado 350k, Nov. 4 Busch Series O'Reilly Challenge and Nov. 5 NEXTEL Cup Series Dickies 500, contact the speedway ticket hotline at 817-215-8500 or go online to www.texasmotorspeedway.com.

-credit: tms

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Denny Hamlin , Mark Martin