Top 10 Rundown
A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 drivers
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 13, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Batman Begins 400 at Michigan International Speedway, the 15th of 36 races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule (2:10 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 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: 2,062. Previous ranking: 1. Johnson finished sixth at Pocono to bump to 11 the number of consecutive races he has led the standings, dating to Atlanta in March. He has ranked in the top 10 a series-leading 47 consecutive races, since Las Vegas in March of 2004. Johnson is the only driver with 11 top-10 finishes this season. He has competed in six races at Michigan with two top-10 finishes, including a personal-best fourth-place effort a year ago. He finished 40th last August, his only DNF there. Johnson has led in three of his six Michigan starts.
No. 2 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Subway Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,939 (-123). Previous ranking: 2. Biffle finished 30th at Pocono, dropping from 41 points behind Johnson to 123 in arrears. Bifffle has nine top-10 finishes in 2005, including a series-leading four victories, at California, Texas, Darlington and Dover. He has nine top-10 finishes this season. Biffle has run four races at Michigan with two top-five finishes, including a victory last August. Biffle placed 23rd in this race last year. He ranked 23rd in the standings after 14 races in 2004.
No. 3 -- Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford). Team: Robert Yates Racing. Points: 1,781 (-281). Previous ranking: 3. Sadler finished 21st at Pocono. He has seven top-10 efforts this season. Sadler has run 12 races at Michigan's two-mile speedway with just one top-10 finish. He placed fifth one year ago and 32nd last August. Sadler has led in three Michigan races and has one DNF there. He ranked eighth in the standings at this point in 2004.
No. 4 -- Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,759 (-303). Previous ranking: 9. Edwards won at Pocono, his second triumph (along with Atlanta) this season. He has six top-10 finishes in 2005. Edwards has run one race at Michigan, finishing 10th last August. He joins Biffle and fifth-ranked Mark Martin as one of three Roush drivers in the top 10 in the standings. Teammate Kurt Busch, the reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion, dropped to 11th in the rankings, ending a 48-race streak among the top 10.
No. 5 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,734 (-328). Previous ranking: 6. Martin finished seventh at Pocono, wobbling home with a flat tire. He has seven top-10 finishes this season. Martin has led 862 laps (over 38 races) at Michigan, the most among active drivers. He has 25 top-10 finishes at Michigan, including victories in 1998, 1997, 1993 and 1990. He placed 34th one year ago and second last August. Martin has climbed from 12th to fifth in the standings in the last two races.
No. 6 -- Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 1,733 (-329). Previous ranking: 4. Newman placed 34th at Pocono, his third finish of 30th or worse this season. He has seven top-10 finishes in 2005. Newman has run seven races in the Michigan foothills, with a victory there one year ago and in August 2003 among four top-five finishes. He finished 14th at Michigan last August. Newman, who has led in five of his seven Michigan starts, ranked 10th in the standings at this point last year.
No. 7 -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 1,715 (-347). Previous ranking: 10. Harvick finished eighth at Pocono, his fifth top-10 effort this season. He has competed in eight races at Michigan, scoring three top-10 finishes. Harvick placed 17th in this race a year ago and 16th last August. He has led in two of his Michigan starts. Harvick and 19th-ranked Kasey Kahne are the only drivers not affiliated with the Roush or Hendrick teams to win races this year.
No. 8 -- Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 1,714 (-348). Previous ranking: 7. Wallace finished 11th at Pocono. He has six top-10 finishes in 2005. Wallace has been running at the end of a series-leading 27 consecutive races, dating to Bristol last fall. He has run 42 races at Michigan with five victories among his 20 top-10 finishes; his most recent triumph there was in August 2000. Wallace hasn't finished in the top-10 at Michigan in his last five races. He placed 22nd at Michigan one year ago and 36th last August.
No. 9 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 1,700 (-362). Previous ranking: 11. Gordon finished ninth at Pocono, the first time he has been running at the finish in his last four races. He has six top-10 finishes this season, with victories at Daytona, Martinsville and Talladega. Gordon has a series-leading 9.291 average finish in 24 starts at Michigan, with victories in June 2001 and August 1998. He finished 38th there one year ago and seventh last August. Gordon, who has 17 top-10 finishes at Michigan, has led in 17 of his 24 starts there.
No. 10 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 1,682 (-380). Previous ranking: 5. Stewart finished 29th at Pocono, dropping five spots in the standings. He has six top-10 finishes in 2005. Stewart has run 12 races at Michigan with seven top-10 finishes, including a victory in June 2000. He has placed ninth or better in four of his last five starts there. Stewart finished 24th a year ago and ninth last August.
Top 10 following Pocono 500 (Race 14 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 2,062 pts.
2. Greg Biffle 1,939 (-123)
3. Elliott Sadler 1,781 (-281)
4. Carl Edwards 1,759 (-303)
5. Mark Martin 1,734 (-328)
6. Ryan Newman 1,733 (-329)
7. Kevin Harvick 1,715 (-347)
8. Rusty Wallace 1,714 (-348)
9. Jeff Gordon 1,700 (-362)
10. Tony Stewart 1,682 (-380)
New arrival in the Top 10: Jeff Gordon.
Dropped out of the Top 10: Kurt Busch.
Closing in on the Top 10: No. 11 Kurt Busch (-1 out of 10th); No. 12 Jamie McMurray (-12); No. 13 Jeremy Mayfield (-23); No. 14 Dale Jarrett (-58); No. 15 Michael Waltrip (-103).