Preseason top 10 favorite: Jeff Gordon

2006 NASCAR PRESEASON TOP 10 FAVORITE: JEFF GORDON TOPS THE CHART Media predicts finishing order of 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 2006) -- Stung by last season's inconsistency, four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup...

2006 NASCAR PRESEASON TOP 10 FAVORITE: JEFF GORDON TOPS THE CHART

Media predicts finishing order of 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 2006) -- Stung by last season's inconsistency, four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) has been clear about his intent to return to the top of his sport.

He's already made one on-track statement by earning the No. 2 starting spot for Sunday's 48th annual Daytona 500. Now, media voters have echoed his optimism, selecting him as the favorite to win the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

Gordon -- the defending and three-time Daytona 500 champion -- heads the 2006 NASCAR Preseason Top 10 poll. A total of 247 votes were cast; voting began Jan. 18 and ended Feb. 13 on www.nascarmedia.com. Drivers received 10 points for first place, nine points for second place, eight points for third place, seven points for fourth place, six points for fifth place, five points for sixth place, four points for seventh place, three points for eighth place, two points for ninth place and one point for 10th.

Gordon received 1,748 points and 57 first-place votes -- 51 points more than second-place Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet), the two-time and defending series champion. Stewart received 1,697 points and 48 first-place votes. Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) is third with 1,691 points and 43 first-place votes -- only six points behind Stewart.

Rounding out the top five in the NASCAR Preseason Top 10 are Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford) in fourth place and his Roush Racing teammate Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) in fifth place. The 2005 runner-up, Biffle received 1,490 points and 44 first-place votes. Edwards, who finished third in last year's Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, received 1,309 points and 19 first-place votes.

The rest of the NASCAR Preseason Top 10 follows: Sixth-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) with 853 points and six first-place votes; seventh-place Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge) with 774 points and three first-place votes; eighth-place Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford) with 668 points and seven first-place votes; ninth-place Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) with 665 points and six first-place votes; and 10th-place Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) with 580 points and three first-place votes.

Eight drivers in the 2006 NASCAR Preseason Top 10 competed in the 2005 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. The exceptions are Gordon, who finished 11th last season, his worst result since finishing 14th in his rookie season of 1993, and Earnhardt Jr., who finished 19th.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Carl Edwards , Mark Martin
Teams HART