TOP-10 RUNDOWN A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 drivers DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 11, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series top 10 heading into Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway,...
A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 drivers
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 11, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series top 10 heading into Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the seventh of 36 races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule (1:20 p.m. ET on FOX). The first 26 races of the season will determine who will be part of the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup in the final 10 races. Drivers who are in the NASCAR 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: 977. Previous: 1. With his eighth-place finish at Martinsville, Johnson is the only driver to score top-10 finishes in the six races in 2005. He also extended his top-10 streak that dates to Charlotte last October, during which he's had five victories. Johnson has ranked among the top 10 in the standings for three consecutive races. He has top-10 finishes in the three races he has run at Texas; he was ninth one year ago, his worst Texas finish. Johnson ranked sixth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings after six races in 2004.
No.2 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Subway Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 817 (-160). Previous ranking: 2. Biffle finished 29th at Martinsville, his worst showing in 2005, but remained second in the standings on the strength of four top-10 finishes this season. His fifth consecutive week among the top five in the standings is his career-best; his top ranking in 2004 was 13th following the Daytona 500. Biffle has run two races at Texas, finishing 28th in 2003 and 31st a year ago. He ranked 16th in the standings at this point last year.
No.3 -- Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford). Team: Robert Yates Racing. Points: 795 (-182). Previous ranking: 5. Sadler finished ninth at Martinsville to climb two spots in the standings. He has four top-10 finishes this season. Sadler has two top-10 finishes in six starts at Texas, including a victory one year ago and a 10th-place finish in his first race there in 1999. His four races in between produced finishes outside the top 15. Sadler has led laps in four of six Texas outings. He has climbed from 13th to third in the standings in the last three races; he was ranked ninth at this point last season.
No.4 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 779 (-198). Previous ranking: 10. Martin finished third at Martinsville, his fourth top-10 finish in six races this year, to advance six positions in the standings. Martin, who retires at the end of the season, has a victory at Texas in 1998 and four top-10 finishes there in eight starts. He finished 17th in this race last year. Martin ranked 15th in the standings at this point in 2004.
No.5 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 774 (-203). Previous ranking: 3. Stewart led four times at Martinsville, but dropped two positions in the standings after finishing 26th, his worst finish this year. He has placed in the top 10 in three races this season. Stewart has run six races at Texas with four top-10 finishes; his best outing was fifth in 2002. He finished eighth in this race last year.
No.6 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 772 (-205). Previous ranking: 12. Gordon finished first at Martinsville to become the first repeat winner in 2005 (he also won the Daytona 500) and climb from 12th to sixth in the standings. He has four top-15 finishes this season and trails Stewart by only two points. Gordon has run eight races at Texas; he leads all drivers with four consecutive top-five finishes in his last four races there. Gordon placed third in this race in 2004. He was 12th in the standings at this point last season.
No.7 -- Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge). Team: Penske Racing. Points: 771 (-206). Previous ranking: 9. Wallace advanced two positions in the standings with a fifth-place finish at Martinsville. He is just one point behind Gordon and three points behind Stewart. He has five top-15 finishes in 2005. Wallace, who, like Martin is in his last year of competition, has run eight races at Texas with three top-10 finishes, including a fifth-place finish a year ago.
No.8 -- Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge). Team: Penske Racing. Points: 753 (-224). Previous ranking: 11. Newman placed fourth at Martinsville, his best finish in 2005, to advance three positions in the standings. He has three top-10 finishes in 2005. Newman has run three races at Texas with wildly different results; he logged a victory there in 2003 and has two DNFs since. He finished 39th in this race last year. Newman ranked fifth in the standings after six races in 2004.
No.9 -- Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 746 (-231). Previous ranking: 7. The reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion dropped two spots in the standings with a 19th-place finish at Martinsville. He has three top-five finishes in 2005. Busch has competed in four races at Texas, posting three top-10 finishes; his best was a fourth-place finish in 2001. He finished sixth in this race a year ago. Busch ranked second in the standings at this point last season.
No.10 -- Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford). Team: Robert Yates Racing. Points: 732 (-245). Previous ranking: 8. Jarrett finished 14th at Martinsville to drop two positions in the standings. He has one victory (in 2001) in eight races at Texas, where he leads all drivers with 407 laps led. He has three top-10 finishes at Texas. He finished 18th last year, his third consecutive Texas finish outside the top 10. Jarrett ranked 22nd in the standings after six races in 2004.
Top 10 following Martinsville (Race 6 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 977 pts.
2. Greg Biffle 817 (-160)
3. Elliott Sadler 795 (-182)
4. Mark Martin 779 (-198)
5. Tony Stewart 774 (-203)
6. Jeff Gordon 772 (-205)
7. Rusty Wallace 771 (-206)
8. Ryan Newman 753 (-224)
9. Kurt Busch 746 (-231)
10. Dale Jarrett 732 (-245)
New arrivals in the Top 10: Gordon, Newman.
Dropped out of the Top 10: Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick.
Closing in on the Top 10: No. 11 Edwards (727, -5 pts. out of 10th); No. 12 Sterling Marlin (723, -9); No. 13 Harvick (721, -11); No. 14 Scott Riggs (666, -66); No. 15 Jamie McMurray (654, -78).