Top-10 Rundown 2006-06-19

A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 19, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, the 16th of 36 races on...

A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 19, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, the 16th of 36 races on the series' schedule (3 p.m. ET on FOX).

The first 26 races of the season will determine the drivers involved in the third annual "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup" contested over the final 10 races. Drivers who are in the top 10 or within 400 points of the standings' 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: 2,295. Johnson finished sixth at Michigan to retain his spot atop the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings. He is the only driver with 12 top-10 finishes this season. He has been among the top 10 for 84 consecutive races, since March 2004. Johnson has one top-10 finish in four starts at Infineon Raceway, a fifth-place effort in 2004. He finished 36th in this race a year ago, his worst showing. Johnson has a 23.25 average Infineon finish. He has yet to lead a lap at the California track, and is still hunting for his first road-course triumph. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Johnson is top- ranked in Average Running Position (11.166).

No. 2 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,221. The 2003 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion finished 13th at Michigan. He has 10 top-10 finishes this season. He has ranked in the top five since the season's second race, a victory at California. Kenseth has yet to log a top-10 finish in six races at Infineon, but has been running at the finish of every event. He finished 11th last year. Kenseth has a 22.833 average Infineon finish. He has never led a lap at Infineon. Kenseth has finished on the lead lap in four of his six Infineon starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kenseth is ranked fourth in Fastest Drivers Early in a Run (7.923).

No. 3 -- Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 2,051. Kahne won the rain-shortened race at Michigan, his series-leading fourth victory this season. He has 10 top-10 finishes in 2006. Kahne was 20th in the standings at this point last season. He has finished outside the top 30 in his two races at Infineon, including 31st in his first race there and 41st last year. Kahne has a 36.0 average Infineon finish. He has never led a lap at Infineon, but has been running at the finish of both events. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kahne ranks fourth in Driver Rating with 98.9.

No. 4 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). Team: Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Points: 2,020. Earnhardt finished third at Michigan to advance two spots in the standings. He has yet to log a top-10 finish at Infineon, where he has six starts. His best Infineon outing was 11th in 2003 and 2004. Earnhardt finished 42nd last year. He has a 22.833 average Infineon finish. Earnhardt has led in one of his six starts. He has finished on the lead lap in four Infineon races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Earnhardt is tied for second in Quality Passes (916).

No. 5 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,989. Martin finished 27th at Michigan, dropping one slot in the standings. He has had only one DNF (at Talladega in October 2005, due to an accident) in the 39 events since Pocono last season. Martin has one victory (in 1997) and 13 top-10 finishes in 17 races at Infineon. He placed 15th a year ago. Martin has a 9.822 average Infineon finish. He has led in five of his 17 Infineon races, and led the most laps in two of those events. Martin has finished on the lead lap in all but two of his starts. He has 32 top-10 finishes in 39 career road-course races, tops among all drivers. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Martin ranks sixth in Percentage of Laps Run on Lead Lap with 88% (4,224 of 4,779).

No. 6 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 1,928. Stewart finished 41st at Michigan, knocked out of the race early after contact with another car. He dropped two spots in the standings. Stewart has eight top-10 finishes this season; seven have been top fives. He has two victories (2005 and 2001) in seven races at Infineon. Stewart has an 8.0 average Infineon finish, the best of all drivers. He has led in five of his seven Infineon starts, including the most laps in his victory last year. Stewart has finished on the lead lap in every start. He has five career road-course victories, tops among drivers currently ranked in the top 10. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Stewart ranks second in Mile Leaders (744.83).

No. 7 -- Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 1,888. Burton finished 11th at Michigan to retain his spot in the standings. He has nine top-10 finishes this season. Burton has climbed from 21st to seventh in the standings since Martinsville in April. He has three top-10 finishes in 12 races at Infineon, his most recent a ninth-place effort in 2004. Burton finished 30th last year. He has a 21.750 average Infineon finish. Burton has led three laps in one Infineon race, and has placed on the lead lap in nine Infineon starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Burton ranks third in Average Running Position (11.444).

No. 8 -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 1,849. Harvick finished 10th at Michigan to retain his spot in the standings. He has seven top-10 finishes this year. Harvick has ranked among the top 10 in the last nine races, since Texas in April. He has one top-10 finish in five Infineon races, a third in 2003. Harvick finished 37th last year. He has a 16.0 average Infineon finish. He has never led a lap at Infineon and has yet to post a DNF there. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Harvick is the ninth best Mile Leader with 222.26 miles led.

No. 9 -- Denny Hamlin Jr. (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 1,809. Hamlin finished 12th at Michigan to retain his spot in the standings. He is the highest-ranking NASCAR Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate. Hamlin is the only rookie with top-15 finishes in 10 races this season. This will be his first start at Infineon. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Hamlin is ranked sixth in Fastest Drivers Early in a Run (8.0).

No. 10 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Charter Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,807. Biffle finished fourth at Michigan, his sixth top-10 effort this year and the longest top-10 streak of his career. He has climbed from 23rd to 10th in the standings in the six races since Talladega in April. Biffle was ranked second in the series standings at this point in 2005. He has yet to post a top-10 finish in three races at Infineon. Biffle placed 14th there last year. He has been running at the finish of his three Infineon starts; he led eight laps in this race last season. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Biffle has the second best Driver Rating of 105.2.

#$Fast Facts

Top 10 following Michigan (race 15 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 2,295 pts
2. Matt Kenseth 2,221 (-74)
3. Kasey Kahne 2,051 (-244)
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,020 (-275)
5. Mark Martin 1,989 (-306)
6. Tony Stewart 1,928 (-367)
7. Jeff Burton 1,888 (-407)
8. Kevin Harvick 1,849 (-446)
9. Denny Hamlin* 1,809 (-486)
10. Greg Biffle 1,807 (-488)

Weeks at No. 1: Johnson (7).

New arrivals this week in the Top 10: Greg Biffle

Dropped out of the Top 10: Kyle Busch

Closing in on the Top 10:
11. Jeff Gordon 1,796
12. Kyle Busch 1,795
13. Carl Edwards 1,722
14. Casey Mears 1,654
15. Jamie McMurray 1,624

*Denotes Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.

-nascar-

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