Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Dover A look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 during the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 20, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10...
Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Dover
A look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 during the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 20, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's MBNA RacePoints 400 at Dover International Speedway (12:30 p.m. on TNT), the second race of the final 10 events in the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."
The MBNA RacePoints 400 is the 28th of 36 races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule. The first 26 races determined who would be part of the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Drivers outside the "Chase" will compete for the 11th spot, which will pay in excess of $1 million. Among the 10 drivers in the Chase group, six -- Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace and Jimmie Johnson -- have won at Dover.
No. 1 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 5,230. Previous ranking: 1. Tony Stewart, the 2002 series champion, hasn't slowed in two months. He's recorded 13 straight top-10 finishes, including five victories, in his last 13 events. At Dover, Stewart has two wins -- a sweep in 2000 -- and 11 top-10 finishes in 13 starts. He finished 15th in June, his worst Dover finish.
No. 2 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,210 (-20). Previous ranking: 2. A top-five finish at New Hampshire, his 11th this season, helped Greg Biffle stay in the runner-up spot in this week's Top 10. Biffle is having a solid 2005 season and is considered a favorite heading into Dover's event after he won the spring race there. Sweeping both Dover races has been a trend -- it's happened three times since 2000 and Biffle, with two top-10 finishes (including his June win) could be one to watch on the "Monster Mile."
No. 3 -- Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 5,190 (-40). Previous ranking: 10. Thanks to his New Hampshire win, Newman made the biggest improvement among the Chase contenders, from 10th place all the way up to third. His New Hampshire win was his first since he won at Dover last September, a 35-race drought, and he has three wins and six top-10 performances in eight Dover starts. Aside from last year's victory, Newman also won both 2003 Dover events. He finished eighth this June.
No. 4 -- Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 5,190 (-40). Previous ranking: 4. Wallace enters Sunday's race in a numerical tie with Penske teammate Ryan Newman, however Newman was granted the third spot in the standings based on his higher win total. Wallace has not won this season. His last victory came in April 2004 at Martinsville Speedway -- a span of 55 races. Despite this, the veteran has more than held his own among the Chase contenders. Wallace's sixth-place New Hampshire finish kept him within 40 points of the leader, and, with five Dover victories in 43 starts, he leads all active drivers in wins at the Delaware track.
No. 5 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,180 (-50). Previous ranking: 8. Kenseth's remarkable run continued at New Hampshire with a third-place finish -- his sixth top-10 finish in the last seven races. His recent success, including a win at Bristol Motor Speedway in August, has made him a late-season favorite in the final 10 races. After starting 42nd in the standings after the Daytona 500, Kenseth worked up to ninth place and entered the Chase in top form. At Dover, he's scored seven top-10 finishes in 13 starts.
No. 6 -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 5,177 (-53). Previous ranking: 4. Johnson slipped two positions in the standings after an eighth-place finish at New Hampshire. As a competitor in the inaugural Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup last season, Johnson began the Chase in second place and dropped to fifth after New Hampshire, yet later rebounded with four victories -- at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway -- to finish the season second in points.
No. 7 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,176 (-54). Previous ranking: 6. Martin's seventh-place finish at New Hampshire couldn't stop him from losing one position in the standings this week. The result also marked the 353rd top-10 result of his career. Experience will certainly be a factor for him at Dover and throughout the rest of the Chase. Martin has four victories at Dover, most recently in June 2004. Including his four wins, Martin has recorded 23 top-10 finishes in 38 races at Dover.
No. 8 -- Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 5,135 (-95). Previous ranking: 7. Mayfield has had an interesting career at Dover, which began with a 24th-place finish in September 1994. Since then, he's recorded a string of three top-five finishes in four Dover starts from 1997-98, followed by five "DNF's" (did not finish) in his next six starts in 1999-2001. More recently, Mayfield has three top-10 finishes, in his last four starts, including a second-place finish in September 2003.
No. 9 -- Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,121 (-109). Previous ranking: 8. Edwards finished 19th at New Hampshire and slipped one position in the standings. Sunday's MBNA RacePoints 400 will be only the third time Edwards has raced at Dover in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. He finished 18th at Dover last September and 16th there in June.
No. 10 -- Kurt Busch (No. 97 Crown Royal Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,088 (-142). Previous ranking: 5. The defending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion, Busch finished 35th at New Hampshire after an early accident, dropping him five slots in the standings. He'll need to rebound at Dover, where he has three top-10 finishes in 10 starts. He finished fifth a year ago -- his best Dover finish -- and ninth this June.
Top 10 following the Sylvania 300 (Race 27 of 36):
1. Tony Stewart 5,230 pts.
2. Greg Biffle 5,210 (-20)
3. Ryan Newman 5,190 (-40)
4. Rusty Wallace 5,190 (-40)
5. Matt Kenseth 5,180 (-50)
6. Jimmie Johnson 5,177 (-53)
7. Mark Martin 5,176 (-54)
8. Jeremy Mayfield 5,135 (-95)
9. Carl Edwards 5,121 (-109)
10. Kurt Busch 5,088 (-142)
11th place: Jamie McMurray.