Chase for the Cup: Charlotte

Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Lowe's Motor Speedway DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 9, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Saturday's Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord,...

Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Lowe's Motor Speedway

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 9, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Saturday's Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., the fifth event of the 10 that make up the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."

The Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET on NBC) is the 31st of 36 races on the series' schedule. The first 26 races of the season determined the drivers involved in the third annual Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup contested over the final 10 races. The "Chase" includes drivers in the top 10 or who were within 400 points of the standings' leader.

No. 1 -- Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 5,598. Burton finished 27th at Talladega to retain the lead in the standings for the third consecutive week. He and second-ranked Matt Kenseth are the only drivers with top-10 finishes in three of the first four Chase races. Burton is the lone driver to lead the four Chase events. He has 18 top-10 finishes this season. Burton was ranked 21st at this point in 2005. He has two victories (2001 and 1999) and 11 top-10 finishes in 25 races at LMS, where he has a 15.80 average finish, fourth among Chase contestants. Burton finished 14th in this race last year and sixth in May. He has led in seven of his 25 races at the 1.5-mile speedway. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Burton is ranked second in Driver Rating (98.0).

No. 2 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,592. Kenseth finished fourth at Talladega for his series-leading 19th top-10 effort this season. The third-year Chase driver has ranked in the top five since the season's second race, a victory at California, 29 consecutive races. He has one victory (2000) and seven top-10 finishes in 14 races at LMS, where he has a 14.857 average finish, third among Chase drivers. The victory at LMS was the first of his NASACAR NEXTEL Cup career, coming in his 18th start. Kenseth finished 26th in this race a year ago and fifth in May. He has led in nine of his 14 LMS starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kenseth is ranked first in Average Running Position (10.789).

No. 3 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,588. Martin finished eighth at Talladega to remain third in the standings. The third-year Chase contestant has been running at the finish in the last 37 races, the longest current streak. Martin has four victories (2002, 1998, 1995 and 1992) and 21 top-10 finishes in 43 races at LMS, where he has a 15.883 average finish, fifth among Chase drivers. He finished fifth in this race last year and fourth in May. Martin has led in 22 of his 43 starts at LMS, where he posted 11 DNFs in his first 20 races but has had just one DNF in his last 23. He is the only Chase driver without a victory in 2006. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Martin is ranked seventh in Average Running Position (13.206).

No. 4 -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet): Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 5,565. Harvick finished sixth at Talladega to climb one spot in the standings. The first-year Chase driver has led in one of the year's final 10 races. He has ranked among the top 10 in the last 24 events, since Texas in April. Harvick has 16 top-10 finishes in 2006. He has three top-10 finishes in 11 races at LMS, where he has a 20.363 average finish, ninth among Chase contestants. Harvick finished 28th in this race last year and 34th in May. He has led in two of his 11 LMS starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Harvick is ranked first in Fastest Drivers on Restarts (10.767).

No. 5 -- Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 5,547. Hamlin finished 21st at Talladega to drop three spots in the standings. He is the first Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate to make the Chase. He has 15 top-10 finishes in 2006, the most among rookies. Hamlin has been the highest-finishing rookie in 14 of 30 races this year, and has been running at the finish in the last 24. His two LMS starts include an eighth-place finish in this race a year ago and a ninth-place effort in May. Hamlin has led in both his starts at LMS, where he has an 8.5 average finish, second among Chase drivers. Season-to-date Loop Data: Hamlin is ranked fourth in Fastest Drivers Early in a Run (8.750).

No. 6 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). Team: Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Points: 5,492. Earnhardt finished 23rd at Talladega to climb one position in the standings. Running in his second Chase, Earnhardt was 18th in the standings at this point last season. Earnhardt has six top-10 finishes in 14 races at LMS, where he has an 18.357 average finish, seventh among Chase contestants. He finished 42nd in this race in 2005 and 11th in May at LMS. Earnhardt has led in six of his 14 races at LMS. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Earnhardt is ranked fourth in Green Flag Passes (2,562).

No. 7 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 5,451. Gordon finished 36th at Talladega to drop one spot in the standings. The finish was his sixth DNF in 2006, most among drivers ranked in the top 24. He joins points leader Burton as the only drivers with two top-five finishes in four Chase events. Gordon was 14th in the standings at this point last season. He has four victories (1999, 1998, 1997 and 1994) and 15 top-10 finishes in 27 races at LMS, where he has a 16.222 average finish, sixth among Chase drivers. Gordon has finished 30th or worse in his last three races at LMS, including 38th in this race last year and 36th in May; all three efforts were DNFs. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Gordon is ranked second in Average Running Position (11.233).

No. 8 -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 5,442. Johnson finished 24th at Talladega, his first DNF this season. He has not posted a top-10 finish in the last six races, the longest streak of his career (without) a top-10 effort. The third-year Chase contestant will finish in the top 10 for the fifth consecutive season. Johnson has ranked among the top 10 for 99 consecutive races, since Atlanta in March 2004. He has five victories (both races in 2005 and 2004; May 2003) and nine consecutive top-10 finishes in 10 races at LMS, where he has a 6.20 average finish, tops among Chase drivers. Johnson finished second in May at LMS, where he has led in his last nine starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Johnson is ranked second in Fastest Drivers Late in a Run (8.321).

No. 9 -- Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 5,413. Kahne finished second at Talladega to climb one spot in the standings. The first-year Chase driver has won five races in 2006, the most among the top 10. He has 15 top-10 finishes this season. Kahne was 20th in the standings at this point last year. He has one victory (May 2006) at LMS, where he placed 23rd in this race last year. The victory was Kahne's only top-10 effort at LMS, where he has an 18.8 average finish, eighth among Chase drivers. He has led in all five of his LMS starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kahne is ranked first in Fastest Drivers on Straightaways (7.737).

No. 10 -- Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 5,413. Busch finished 11th at Talladega to drop one spot in the standings. He has 16 top-10 finishes in 2006. The first-year Chase driver has finished 38th, 40th, seventh and 11th in the first four Chase races. He and Kahne have the same number of points, but Kahne is ranked higher due to his five victories. Busch has yet to log a top-10 finish in five races at LMS, where he has a 33.6 average finish, last among Chase drivers. He has finished 25th or worse in five LMS starts, including 39th a year ago and 38th in May. Busch has led in two of his five starts at LMS, where he has three DNFs. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Busch is ranked fourth in Fastest Drivers Late in a Run (9.792).

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing