Kansas: Chase top ten - NASCAR spotlight

Standings shuffled, Stewart leads Chase field by four points DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 4, 2005) -- No one in the final 10 can be counted out in the 2005 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. With seven Chase races remaining, including this Sunday's...

Standings shuffled, Stewart leads Chase field by four points

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 4, 2005) -- No one in the final 10 can be counted out in the 2005 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. With seven Chase races remaining, including this Sunday's Banquet 400 presented by ConAgra Foods at Kansas Speedway, even the current occupants of ninth and 10th in the standings remain genuine contenders.

Both drivers are in considerably better position than Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) was last year entering the Banquet 400. In 2004, Johnson arrived as the ninth-place driver in the Chase, 247 points behind leader Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie Ford). Johnson rebounded to contend for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship, ultimately finishing second by a scant eight points behind Busch.

This year, Busch fell from fifth to 10th in the series standings in the first of the 10 Chase races at New Hampshire on Sept. 18. He finished 35th after a Lap 3 accident. Since then, he has posted finishes of 23rd after leading the most laps at Dover, and eighth at Talladega. Compared to Johnson's deep deficit last year, Busch is a surmountable 180 points back.

Busch is optimistic heading for Kansas, where his confidence is boosted by the fastest times in pre-event testing there.

"Next week at Kansas we're going for it," Busch said. "We're dialed in."

Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford) meanwhile lost five positions in the Chase standings at Talladega, where he was eliminated from the event by a multi-car incident not of his making. He completed only 19 laps and posted a dismal 41st-place finish. He went from fourth to ninth in points. He's only 138 points off the point leader's pace, making his position comparatively good compared to Johnson's 2004, 247-point deficit.

"We'll dig in and we'll keep fighting," Martin said after the Talladega event. "That's what this team does."

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Mark Martin