Top-10 Rundown 2006-06-05

Top-10 Rundown A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 5, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Pocono 500 at Long Pond, Pa., the 14th of 36 races...

Top-10 Rundown
A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 5, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Pocono 500 at Long Pond, Pa., the 14th of 36 races on the series' schedule (1:30 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: 2,011. Johnson fought back from a 42nd-place start, including two spins, to finish sixth this past Sunday at Dover International Speedway and retain his spot atop the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings. He is the only driver with 10 top-10 finishes this season; he and Lowe's Motor Speedway winner Kasey Kahne are the series' only three-race winners in 2006. He has been in the top 10 for 82 consecutive races, since March 2004. Johnson has two victories (both races in 2004) and four top-10 finishes in eight races at Pocono Raceway. He finished sixth in this race a year ago and 12th last July. Johnson has an 8.125 average finish at the Pennsylvania superspeedway. He has finished on the lead lap in all eight of his starts at the 2.5-mile track. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Johnson is the second-ranked Closer (2.845).

No. 2 -- Matt Kenseth No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,937. The 2003 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion continued his hot streak, winning at Dover and closing to 74 points behind Johnson in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings. It was his second victory this season and his ninth top-10 performance in 2006. At this point last year, Kenseth was 22nd in the standings. He has been in the top five since the season's second race, a victory at California. Kenseth has five top-10 finishes in 12 races at Pocono, but only one came in his last five races there. He finished 32nd in this race in 2005 and 36th last July. He has a 16.250 average Pocono finish. Kenseth has led in five Pocono starts, but never for more than 10 laps. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kenseth ranks first in Average Running Position (10.279).

No. 3 -- Mark Martin No. 6 AAA Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,795. Martin struggled in the pits, finishing ninth at Dover. He has had only one DNF (at Talladega in October 2005, due to an accident) in the 37 events since this race last season. Martin has 27 top-10 finishes in 38 races at Pocono, but has yet to log a victory. He finished seventh in this race a year ago and third last July. He has a 10.50 average Pocono finish. Martin has led the most laps (121) in a Pocono race, in July 1996. He has finished on the lead lap in his last three Pocono starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Martin ranks second in Average Running Position (11.196).

No. 4 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). Team: Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Points: 1,729. Earnhardt finished 10th at Dover to climb one spot in the standings. He was 15th in the standings at this point in 2005. Earnhardt has four top-10 finishes in 12 races at Pocono; his best outing was second in July 2001. He finished 33rd in this race a year ago and 32nd last July. Earnhardt has a 17.166 average Pocono finish. He has led in four of his 12 starts. Earnhardt hasn't finished on the lead lap in his last three Pocono races; he has never had a DNF at the track. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Earnhardt ranks first in Percentage of Laps Run on Lead Lap (96.22).

No. 5 -- Tony Stewart No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 1,718. Stewart, who injured his shoulder blade at Lowe's Motor Speedway and gave the wheel to the retired Ricky Rudd during the first caution at Dover, was credited with a 25th-place finish. He dropped one spot in the standings. Stewart has seven top-10 finishes in 2006, but has also placed 42nd and 43rd. He and No. 12 Greg Biffle have led 801 laps this season, the most among drivers. Stewart has one victory (2003) and nine top-10 finishes in 14 races at Pocono, but hasn't finished in the top 10 there in his last five starts. He finished 29th in this race a year ago and seventh last July. He has two DNFs at Pocono, where he has a 14.428 average finish. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Stewart ranks second in Consecutive Passes Without Being Passed (33).

No. 6 -- Kasey Kahne No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 1,715. Kahne finished seventh at Dover, his eighth top-10 outing this season. He was 18th in the standings at this point last year. Kahne has one top-10 finish in four races at Pocono, a third-place effort in August 2001. He finished 27th in both Pocono races in 2005; he has a 17.75 average finish there. Kahne did not finish on the lead lap in his last two Pocono starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kahne is ranked fourth in Fastest Drivers Early in a Run (7.364).

No. 7 -- Jeff Burton No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 1,615. Burton finished fourth at Dover, his eighth top-10 showing in 2006. This is his highest spot in the standings since ranking fourth in March 2003. Burton has 11 top-10 finishes in 24 races at Pocono, his most recent (sixth) in July 2003. He finished 19th in this race last year and 37th last July. Burton has led in 13 Pocono races, but has never led more than 17 laps in an event. He has a 17.833 average Pocono finish. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Burton ranks fourth in Passes on Frontstretch (343).

No. 8 -- Kevin Harvick No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 1,591. Harvick finished third at Dover to advance one spot in the standings. He has six top-10 finishes this season. Harvick has three top-10 finishes in 10 Pocono starts; he placed eighth in this race in 2005 and sixth last July. He has an 18.3 average Pocono finish. Harvick has yet to lead a lap at Pocono, where he has two DNFs. He has finished on the lead lap in four of his last five Pocono starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Harvick ranks eighth in Mile Leaders (222.26).

No. 9 -- Jeff Gordon No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 1,583. Out front early, Gordon finished 12th at Dover to drop one spot in the standings. The finish was his fourth outside the top 10 in his last five races. Gordon has three victories and 18 top-10 finishes in 26 races at Pocono, his most recent triumph coming in July 1998. His three Pocono victories are the most among active drivers currently ranked in the top 10 (Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte also have three victories). Gordon finished ninth in this race a year ago and 13th last July. He has a 10.155 average Pocono finish. Gordon has finished on the lead lap in his last four Pocono races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Gordon is ranked second in Percentage of Laps Run on Lead Lap (91.91).

No. 10 -- Kyle Busch No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 1,572. Busch finished fifth at Dover after starting 30th. He has seven top-10 finishes this season, including three in his last four races. Busch was 19th in the standings at this point in 2005. He has competed in two Pocono races, finishing fourth in this race a year ago and 39th (a DNF) last July. Busch has a 21.5 average Pocono finish. He has yet to lead a lap at Pocono. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Busch ranks fifth in Quality Passes (791).

Fast Facts

Top 10 following Dover (race 13 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 2,011 pts
2. Matt Kenseth 1,937 (-74)
3. Mark Martin 1,795 (-216)
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1,729 (-282)
5. Tony Stewart 1,718 (-293)
6. Kasey Kahne 1,715 (-296)
7. Jeff Burton 1,615 (-396)
8. Kevin Harvick 1,591 (-420)
9. Jeff Gordon 1,583 (-428)
10. Kyle Busch 1,572 (-439)

Weeks at No. 1: Johnson (5).

New arrivals this week in the Top 10: None

Dropped out of the Top 10: None

Closing in on the Top 10:
11. Denny Hamlin Jr.* 1,492
12. Greg Biffle 1,487
13. Casey Mears 1,474
14. Carl Edwards 1,454
15. Jamie McMurray 1,421
* Denotes Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.

-nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing