A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 10, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into the Easter off-week. Competition resumes with the Subway Fresh 500 at ...
A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 10, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into the Easter off-week. Competition resumes with the Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on April 22, the eighth of 36 races on the series' schedule (8 p.m. ET on FOX).
The first 26 races of the season will determine who will be part of the third annual "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup" in the final 10 races. Drivers who are in the top 10 or within 400 points of the points 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: 1,063. Johnson's 11th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway helped keep him atop the standings for the second consecutive week, but his lead was trimmed by 44 points. He leads second-place Matt Kenseth by only 15 points. Johnson is one of five drivers with five top-10 finishes in seven races this season. Thus far, he and Kasey Kahne are the only drivers with two wins each. Johnson is fifth in the Driver Rating category of NASCAR's Loop Data season-to-date statistics, with a rating of 100.0.
No. 2 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,048. Kenseth finished second at Texas and gained one spot in the standings. It was his second runner-up finish in seven events this season. His first 2006 victory came at California. A year ago, he was 21st in the standings after seven races. Kenseth is second in the Driver Rating category of NASCAR's Loop Data season-to-date statistics, with a rating of 109.9.
No. 3 -- Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 1,017. Kahne won this past Sunday's event at Texas, gaining one spot in the standings and capturing his second victory of the season (his first came at Atlanta). The win at Texas was the third of his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup career; Kahne won all three races from the Bud Pole. A year ago, he was 23rd in the standings. Kahne and fourth-place Mark Martin have identical point totals following Texas, but Kahne earns third place because he has two wins. Martin has yet to win in 2006. Kahne's career best start has also yielded a Driver Rating of 103.4, ranking him third among all drivers this season.
No. 4 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,017. Martin finished ninth at Texas, but slipped two spots in the standings to fourth. A year ago, he was seventh in the standings following seven races. Martin is fourth in the Driver Rating category of NASCAR's Loop Data season-to-date statistics, with a rating of 100.2.
No. 5 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 966. Stewart finished third at Texas to climb three spots in the standings. Stewart is the only driver to lead at least one lap in all seven events so far this season. He leads three season-to-date Loop Data statistics -- Average Running Position (7.026), Driver Rating (118.2) and Mile Leaders (694.57).
No. 6 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). Team: Dale Earnhardt Inc. Points: 951. Earnhardt finished 12th at Texas, remaining sixth in the standings. A year ago, he ranked 15th after seven events. Consistency has been his key; he has three top-10 finishes in seven races. Earnhardt ranks first and second in two season-to-date categories of NASCAR's Loop Data statistics, respectively -- Percentage of Laps Run on the Lead Lap (2,363 of 2,383 laps) and Quality Passes (420).
No. 7 -- Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 950. Busch finished 15th at Texas, dropping two spots in the standings. Last year he ranked 29th after seven events. Busch has four top-10 finishes through six races this season. He ranks first in the Quality Passes category of NASCAR's season-to-date Loop Data statistics with 435 Quality Passes.
No. 8 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 911. Gordon finished 22nd at Texas, dropping one spot in the standings. He began the season in 26th-place following the Daytona 500. Gordon ranks fifth in Percentage of Laps Run on the Lead Lap (2,254 of 2,383 laps).
No. 9 -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 859. Harvick finished fifth at Texas, boosting him three spots in the standings, from 12th to ninth. It's his first appearance in the Top 10 this season, and his first since the event at Michigan International Speedway last June. He has vaulted from 23rd to ninth in the last three races.
No. 10 -- Casey Mears (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge). Team: Chip Ganassi Racing. Points: 845. Mears finished 14th at Texas, remaining 10th in the standings for the second consecutive week. He has three top-10 finishes in seven races this season. A year ago, Mears ranked 17th after seven races.
Top 10 following Texas (Race 7 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 1,063 pts
2. Matt Kenseth 1,048 (-15)
3. Kasey Kahne 1,017 (-46)
4. Mark Martin 1,017 (-46)
5. Tony Stewart 966 (-97)
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 951 (-112)
7. Kyle Busch 950 (-113)
8. Jeff Gordon 911 (-152)
9. Kevin Harvick 859 (-204)
10. Casey Mears 845 (-218)
Weeks at No. 1: Johnson (2).
New arrivals this week in the Top 10: Kevin Harvick
Dropped out of the Top 10: Elliott Sadler
Closing in on the Top 10:
11. Dale Jarrett 828 pts.
12. Elliott Sadler 804
13. Clint Bowyer (r) 750
14. Denny Hamlin (r) 747
15. Martin Truex Jr. (r) 744
(r) Denotes Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.