Race to the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Heating up Heading to Indianapolis DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 3, 2004) -- The race to the 10th position for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup has intensified dramatically as a result of the turn of...
Race to the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Heating up Heading to Indianapolis
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 3, 2004) -- The race to the 10th position for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup has intensified dramatically as a result of the turn of events at Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway.
The 10th slot in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship points -- or the "bubble" position -- represents the last guaranteed position available for an automatic berth into the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. The Top 10 drivers in the points will be part of the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup that begins Sept. 19 at New Hampshire as well as any other drivers within 400 points of the leader. With the 11th position currently 660 points behind the leader, the Chase participants more than likely will consist of just the Top 10, making that final position pivotal in the coming weeks.
With six races remaining to determine who will qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup beginning with Sunday's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET, NBC), 10th-ranked Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) has five drivers within 133 points of his coveted position.
Harvick's 32nd-place finish at Pocono due to engine failure dropped him from ninth to 10th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 and allowed his five closest pursuers, led by No. 11 Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), to close the gap. Mayfield, chasing a Top 10 berth since being ranked No. 8 following Bristol in March, finished ninth at Pocono to move to 40 points of Harvick. He remains at No. 11 for the third consecutive week, but gained 66 points at Pocono on the 10th position.
Raybestos Rookie of the Year leader Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) finished third at Pocono to jump from No. 14 to No. 12. More importantly, he gained 93 points on the No. 10 position and now trails Harvick by 69 points. Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford) made the largest gain of the week among the group as his runner-up finish allowed him to gain 103 points as he moved from No. 15 to No. 13 and closed to 89 points of Harvick.
Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford) and Jamie McMurray (Texaco/Havoline Dodge) had disappointing performances at Pocono, but actually gained ground. Although Jarrett fell from No. 12 to No. 14 from his 24th-place finish, he gained 24 points on No. 10 and is just 103 behind Harvick. McMurray finished 30th to drop from No. 13 to No. 15, but actually gained a point on No. 10 and sits 133 back.
Following the Brickyard 400, the following races remain for qualifying for a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Watkins Glen International (2.45-mile road course), Aug. 15; Michigan International Speedway (2-mile oval), Aug. 22; Bristol Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval), Aug. 28; California Speedway (2-mile oval), Sept. 5; Richmond International Raceway (.75-mile oval), Sept. 11.
<pre> At A Glance
Top 10 following Pocono (Race 20 of 36): 1. Jimmie Johnson 3040 points 2. Jeff Gordon 2808 (-232) 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2773 (-267) 4. Matt Kenseth 2623 (-417) 5. Tony Stewart 2606 (-434) 6. Elliott Sadler 2504 (-536) 7. Kurt Busch 2481 (-559) 8. Ryan Newman 2472 (-568) 9. Bobby Labonte 2466 (-574) 10. Kevin Harvick 2420 (-620)
Additional championship qualifiers (within 400 points of the leader) at this stage: None.
Chasing the "Chase" (drivers nearest the No. 10 ranking): No. 11 Jeremy Mayfield, 2380 (-40); No. 12 Kasey Kahne, 2351 (-69); No. 13 Mark Martin, 2331 (-89); No. 14 Dale Jarrett, 2317 (-103); No. 15 Jamie McMurray, 2287 (-133).