Top-10 Rundown 2006-06-26

A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 26, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Saturday's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway, the 17th of 36...

A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 26, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Saturday's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway, the 17th of 36 races on the series' schedule (7:30 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: 2,434. Johnson finished 10th at Infineon to retain his spot atop the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings. He is the only driver with 13 top-10 finishes this season. He has been among the top 10 for 85 consecutive races, since March 2004. Johnson has one victory (February 2006) and seven top-10 finishes in nine races at Daytona. He placed sixth in this race a year ago. Johnson has led in five of his nine Daytona starts, and on the lead lap in his last six starts there. He has two victories and 10 top-10 finishes in 18 restrictor-plate races, including a sweep of the first two (Daytona and Talladega) this season. Johnson has a 7.0 average Daytona finish. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Johnson is top-ranked in Average Running Position (11.049).

NO. 2 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,333. The 2003 series champion finished 17th at Infineon. 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 four top-10 finishes in 13 Daytona starts. He has been running at the finish in all but three of his races there. Kenseth finished ninth in this race a year ago and 15th in February. His best finish (sixth) came in this race in 2003. Kenseth has led in six races at Daytona, but has also failed to finish on the lead lap in six of his starts. Kenseth has a 20.769 average Daytona finish. He has never won a restrictor-plate race. Kenseth has nine top-10 finishes in 26 restrictor-plate races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kenseth is ranked second in Driver Rating (104.3).

NO. 3 -- Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 2,121. Kahne finished 31st at Infineon, ending a four-race streak of top-10 efforts. He has 10 top-10 finishes in 2006. Kahne has a series-leading four victories this season, the most recent in June at Michigan. Kahne has finished outside the top 10 in five starts at Daytona; he placed 16th in this race last year and 11th in February. He has a 23.0 average Daytona finish. Kahne has been running at the end in his last four Daytona starts, and also finished on the lead lap during that streak. He has led in two of his five Daytona starts, but never for more than three laps. Kahne has yet to log a top-10 finish in 10 restrictor-plate starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kahne is the fourth-ranked Mile Leader (560.91).

NO. 4 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,113. Martin finished 13th at Infineon, advancing one spot in the standings. He has had only one DNF (at Talladega in October 2005, due to an accident) in the 41 events since Pocono last season. Martin has 15 top-10 finishes in 42 races at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, but has not won there. He finished 39th in this race last year and 12th in February. Martin has a 17.666 average Daytona finish. He has led in 11 races at Daytona, but only once in his last 10 starts. Martin has led the most laps (52) once at Daytona, in 1997. He has failed to finish on the lead lap in two of his last five Daytona starts. Martin has 34 top-10 finishes in 74 restrictor-plate starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Martin ranks sixth in Percentage of Laps Run on Lead Lap (88.65).

NO. 5 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). Team: Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Points: 2,105. Earnhardt finished 26th at Infineon, falling one spot in the standings. He has two victories (2001 and 2004) and nine top-10 finishes in 13 races at Daytona. Earnhardt finished third in this race last year and eighth in February. He has six consecutive top-10 finishes at Daytona, the series' longest current streak. Earnhardt has an 11.307 average Daytona finish, second best among active drivers. He has led in nine of his 13 Daytona starts and has finished on the lead lap in 10 races there. Earnhardt has seven victories and 17 top-10 finishes in 26 restrictor-plate races, third all-time behind his father (11) and Jeff Gordon (10). Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Earnhardt is top-ranked in Percentage of Laps Run on Lead Lap (96.52).

NO. 6 -- Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 2,034. Burton finished seventh at Infineon to climb one spot in the standings. He has 10 top-10 finishes this season. Burton has one victory (July 2000) and seven top-10 finishes in 25 races at Daytona. His most recent top-10 effort came in July 2003 when he finished second. Burton placed 11th in this race last year and 32nd at Daytona in February. He has a 17.6 average Daytona finish. Burton has led in five of his 25 Daytona starts. He has 17 top-10 finishes in 50 restrictor-plate races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Burton is top-ranked in Quality Passes (1,007).

NO. 7 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 2,012. Stewart finished 28th at Infineon, dropping one spot in the standings. Stewart has eight top-10 finishes this season. He has led at least one lap in 11 races this season, tied for second with Matt Kenseth. He has one victory (July 2005) and eight top-10 finishes in 15 Daytona starts, including top-10 efforts in his last five races there. Stewart has a 16.6 average Daytona finish. He has led the most laps in three of his last five Daytona races, and has finished on the lead lap in his last six events there. Stewart has one restrictor-plate victory (Daytona) and 18 top-10 finishes in 30 restrictor-plate starts. He has finished in the top 10 in his last eight restrictor-plate races, a streak that began in July 2004. In addition to his victory, Stewart has three second-place efforts during that eight-race streak, all coming at Talladega. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Stewart ranks second in Miles Led with 746.82.

NO. 8 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Rick Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 1,986. Gordon celebrated his engagement with a triumph at Infineon, his first trip to victory lane this season. He has won at least one race each season the past 13 years. Gordon has six victories and 15 top-10 finishes in 27 starts at Daytona, tied for fifth all-time with Bobby Allison. He finished seventh in this race a year ago and 26th in February. Gordon has 11 victories and 29 top-10 finishes in 54 restrictor-plate starts, one less triumph then all-time leader Dale Earnhardt. He ranks second all-time in laps led (1,172) in restrictor-plate races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Gordon is ranked second in Average Running Position (11.277).

NO. 9 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Charter Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,967. Biffle finished fourth at Infineon, his seventh top-10 effort this year, to advance one spot in the standings. He has climbed from 23rd to ninth in the standings in the seven races since Talladega. Biffle has one top-10 finish in seven races at Daytona, his first career victory coming in this race in 2003. He placed a career-worst 36th in this race last year and 31st in February. Biffle has led in two of his Daytona starts, and has been running at the finish in all his seven races there. Biffle has one top-10 finish in 14 restrictor-plate starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Biffle is ranked first in Driver Rating (105.8).

NO. 10 -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 1,945. Harvick finished 24th at Infineon to drop two spots in the standings. He has ranked in the top 10 in the last 10 races, since Texas in April. Harvick has seven top-10 finishes in 2006. He has three top-10 finishes in 10 races at Daytona, but has scored outside the top 10 in his last four races there. Harvick's best Daytona finish was fourth twice, most recently in February 2004. He finished 24th in this race a year ago and 14th in February. Harvick has a 16.9 average Daytona finish. He has led in seven of his 10 Daytona starts, and has just one DNF there. He has eight top-10 finishes in 21 restrictor-plate starts, but just one coming in his last six restrictor-plate races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Harvick is the ninth-ranked Mile Leader (232.21).

Fast Facts

Top 10 following Infineon (race 16 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 2,434 pts
2. Matt Kenseth 2,333 (-101)
3. Kasey Kahne 2,121 (-313)
4. Mark Martin 2,113 (-321)
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,105 (-329)
6. Jeff Burton 2,034 (-400)
7. Tony Stewart 2,012 (-422)
8. Jeff Gordon 1,986 (-448)
9. Greg Biffle 1,967 (-467)
10. Kevin Harvick 1,945 (-489)

Weeks at No. 1: Johnson (8).

New arrivals this week in the Top 10: Jeff Gordon

Dropped out of the Top 10: Denny Hamlin*

Closing in on the Top 10:
11. Denny Hamlin 1,936
12. Kyle Busch 1,925
13. Carl Edwards 1,872
14. Kurt Busch 1,780
15. Casey Mears 1,757

* Denotes Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.

-nascar

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