"Race to the Chase" begins: Teams began 10-race stretch leading to September cut-off event at Richmond DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 28, 2005) -- The July 4 holiday weekend at Daytona International Speedway means many things; particularly, the ...
"Race to the Chase" begins: Teams began 10-race stretch leading to September cut-off event at Richmond
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 28, 2005) -- The July 4 holiday weekend at Daytona International Speedway means many things; particularly, the beginning of "Race to the Chase."
A 10-event span, "Race to the Chase" starts with this week's Pepsi 400, signaling not only a return to one of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series' most hallowed grounds, but a hot points race along with the hot summer temperatures.
As stated, it's time for teams to turn up the heat. Ten races remain before the start of the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup," which begins Sept. 18 at New Hampshire International Speedway. But to be part of it, drivers must be in the top 10 in points -- or within 400 points of the leader -- following the previous week's event at Richmond International Raceway.
The "Chase" stage is being set, literally, over the next 10 weeks.
"We are excited," said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO, who oversaw the implementation of the "Chase" format last season. "We do see -- and I made this comment from the beginning of the year -- I've always believed there will be more than 10 drivers who make the cut this year because I think people understand the urgency you have to have to stay within 400 points of the leader."
Certainly the quests are many: Currently, 13 drivers are within the 400-point cut-off that will be so crucial that Saturday evening in Richmond, Va.
There's also a new point standings leader. Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford) leads Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) by 22 points entering the weekend's event at Daytona. Biffle seized the lead from Johnson -- who had held it since the season's fourth week at Atlanta -- following the outcome of last week's road-course event at Infineon Raceway.
Also notable: Five drivers currently in the top 10 in the point standings weren't in the same position a year ago. They are: Biffle, Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge), Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford), Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford) and Carl Edwards (No. 99 Pennzoil Ford).
"It's just time to get to work and buckle down," said Johnson, who had transmission problems at Infineon. "It's too bad that we lost the points lead due to a mechanical issue we couldn't control, but you have that in racing and throughout the year and we'll just keep going forward."