Fourth 'chase' race in the books

Race four in the 'chase for the championship' did not disappoint. Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson both experienced difficulties, which have probably taken the teams out of contention for the championship; while Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Race four in the 'chase for the championship' did not disappoint. Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson both experienced difficulties, which have probably taken the teams out of contention for the championship; while Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continue to reign supreme at the top of the ladder.

After a disastrous two weeks, Elliott Sadler wheeled the No. 38 Ford home fourth, the highest placed finisher amongst the 'chase' competitors. Sadler is also this week's biggest gainer, cruising up four spots.

Reigning series champion Matt Kenseth is the day's biggest loser sliding two positions after handling issues plagued the No. 17 Ford team.

1. Kurt Busch: Despite qualifying a disappointing 22nd, Busch swiftly moved up through the pack but never seemed to hit the set-up on his car. On lap 152, however, Busch got loose, spinning in front of the field. Luckily, Busch avoided hitting anything, but had to come to pit road for tires. The incident sent Busch back to the 18th spot, but the No.97 Roush Ford team worked diligently all afternoon to get Busch back into the top five by the closing circuits of the race.

"The car just seemed very nervous," said Busch. "It didn't stick the rear tires when we first started out on a run.they way we rebounded from that, definitely championship caliber."

Busch crossed the finish line in the sixth spot. He maintains the lead in the 'Chase for the Championship' by 29 points over Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

2. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: Earnhardt stayed out of trouble and finished 9th. The 25 point reduction for use of foul language last weekend at Talladega glares brightly at the close of this weekend, as he trails leader Kurt Busch by 29 points.

"We had a pretty good car all day, it just could never really get there," said Earnhardt. "There were just a lot of guys out there that were better than ten, we'll take it."

3. Jeff Gordon: An early mistake on pit road combined with a poor qualifying effort left Gordon running in the back for most of the 400-mile race at Kansas Speedway, but, with 100 laps to go, Team 24 got some of their luck back, as Gordon moved inside the top 15.

"On the last restart we got all we could, but it was a tough day for us," said Gordon. "We didn't do ourselves any favors coming from 30th. Friday (qualifying) is what got us behind. We are just going to keep on digging. We are fortunate to only be 79 points behind."

He managed to finish 13th, but stays third in series standings, 79 markers behind the leader.

4. Elliott Sadler: After a disastrous two weeks, the No. 38 Robert Yates Racing team appeared to be back in championship form. Sadler paced happy hour on Saturday, and ran in the top ten all afternoon, challenging for the lead at times as the race came down to it's final laps.

Sadler did not have the horsepower to challenge at the end, he finished fourth.

"It's a great point's day for us. We needed to turn the momentum around," said Sadler. "We've had two bad weeks in a row and we said if we could come here and Charlotte and get two top fives, we could get our program back to where we need to have it and back in this points contention. It was great."

He climbs four spots to fourth in series rankings, 143 points away from Busch.

5. Mark Martin: Caught a lap down when the yellow flag came out during a round of green flag pit stops at lap 140. Martin cut a tire down after a rotor piece broke loose from the car of Kyle Busch after he brushed the wall. Martin was sent from the top ten to the bottom twenty with just over 100 laps left to be complete.

"We had a top-five car there," said Martin. "It was really a wasted day or a wasted effort by everybody based on not having enough gas mileage to be able to do it there at the end. We had a good enough car. It was really strong on the long runs and we just got 100 cautions there at the end. We were never gonna make up the track position that we had to give up. We were gonna get back to the top 10 if it would have gone green for 50 laps at the end, but it didn't happen."

He finished 20th, and drops one spot to fifth in points, 150 short of the top spot.

6. Tony Stewart: The No. 20 crew worked all day to dial Stewart's car in - as he complained of tight conditions the majority of the race. Despite handling problems, Stewart ran well most of the day, and brought home a 14th place result.

Stewart stays sixth in points, 173 shy of the lead.

7. Matt Kenseth: Reigning Cup series champion Matt Kenseth had a mediocre day, finishing 17th.

"We just really missed it and ran bad all day," commented Kenseth. "Just didn't have a good car, we weren't balanced all day."

He falls two spots to seventh in points, 180 markers out of first.

8. Ryan Newman: Newman ran strong all day, but on lap 209 Newman lost control of the No. 12 Dodge spinning into the infield grass. Problems mounted when Newman came to pit road, and Team 12 had to pull Newman's ride behind the wall for extensive repairs.

"We've just got to go to every race and try to win it just like we did today," Newman commented. "We just didn't win it today. I just got loose and stuck it in the fence. I was the wreck. I just got loose. We've got six to go. We took a double-barrel shotgun and shot ourselves in the foot today. We can fight back. We've done it before."

He finished 33rd, dropping him one spot to eighth in rankings, 232 points out.

9. Jimmie Johnson: On lap 152, Johnson spun after contact with point leader Kurt Busch, but managed to work his way back to the front of the field. However, on lap 214, Johnson hit the wall, crunching the entire front end of the No. 48 Chevrolet. Johnson had to pull his car into the garage for repairs.

Johnson garnered a disappointing 32nd, keeping him trapped in ninth spot in series standings, with a 247 point deficit to overcome.

10. Jeremy Mayfield: The No. 19 Dodge was the class of the field all day, leading at times, but in the end he finished fifth.

"We were pretty good all the way to the end," said Mayfield. "But we had to come in and pit for gas.we might have been able to make it, but we weren't sure.we wanted to come home with a good finish."

Mayfield finished fifth, and remains 10th in standings, 257 points out of the lead.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Robert Yates , Elliott Sadler , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin