Race to the Chase Rundown: Indianapolis

Race to the Chase Rundown: Indianapolis DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 24, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into the Aug. 6 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the fifth...

Race to the Chase Rundown: Indianapolis

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 24, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into the Aug. 6 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the fifth event in the Race to the Chase the 10 events prefacing the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (2 p.m. EDT on NBC) is the 21st of 36 races on the series' schedule. The first 26 races of the season will determine the drivers involved in the third annual Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup contested over the final 10 races. Drivers who are in the top 10 or within 400 points of the standings' leader after those 26 races will vie for the 2006 series title in the Chase.

No. 1 -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 2,939. Johnson finished sixth at Pocono, padding his lead in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings from 68 to 97 points over No. 2 Matt Kenseth. He is the only driver with 16 top-10 finishes this season. Johnson has been among the top 10 for 89 consecutive races, since March 2004. He has three victories in 2006, second to No. 6 Kasey Kahne's four. Johnson has one top-10 finish in four races at Indianapolis, a ninth-place effort in his 2002 rookie season. He has finished 18th or worse at Indianapolis in his other three starts, for a 25.25 average finish. Johnson finished 38th in this race last year. He has yet to lead a lap at Indianapolis, where he has posted DNFs in his two most recent races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Johnson is ranked second in Average Running Position (10.759).

No. 2 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,842. Kenseth finished 14th at Pocono to retain his spot in the standings for the ninth consecutive race. He has ranked in the top five since the season's second race, a victory at California. Kenseth was 17th in the standings at this point last season. He has three top-10 finishes in six races at Indianapolis; his best finish there was second in 2003. Kenseth, who has led in two of his six starts, finished fifth in this race last year. He has a 15.666 average Indianapolis finish. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kenseth is ranked second in Driver Rating (102.9).

No. 3 -- Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 2,621. Burton finished ninth at Pocono, his 13th top-10 showing this season. He ranked 21st in the standings at this point in 2005. Burton has two top-10 finishes in 12 starts at Indianapolis; his best finish there was fifth in 1999. Burton finished 20th in this race last year, his fifth consecutive effort outside the top 10. He has a 19.5 average Indianapolis finish. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Burton is ranked fourth in Average Running Position (11.568).

No. 4 -- Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kelloggs Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 2,582. Busch finished 12th at Pocono to retain his spot in the standings. He was 20th in points at this stage last season. Busch has 10 top-10 finishes and one DNF (an accident at Lowe's Motor Speedway) in 2006. He has competed in one race at Indianapolis, finishing 10th last year. Busch has yet to lead a lap at the famed superspeedway. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Busch is ranked first in Consecutive Laps With a Pass (13).

No. 5 -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 2,563. Harvick finished fifth at Pocono, his 11th top-10 effort this season. He has one victory (2003) and three top-10 finishes in five races at Indianapolis for an 8.8 average finish. Harvick finished 19th in this race last year, his worst showing to date. He has been running at the finish of all five of his Indianapolis races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Harvick is ranked eighth in Driver Rating (92.7).

No. 6 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,557. Martin finished 19th at Pocono. He has 13 top-10 finishes in 2006. Martin has had only one DNF (at Talladega in October 2005, due to an accident) in the 45 events since Dover in June 2005. Martin has seven top-10 finishes in 12 races at Indianapolis; his best showing was second in 1998. He finished seventh in this race last year. Martin has a 15.833 average Indianapolis finish. He has led in five of his 12 starts there, but has never led the most laps. Martin has been winless since Kansas last October, 26 races ago. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Martin is ranked sixth in Average Running Position (12.298).

No. 7 -- Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 2,515. Kahne finished 31st at Pocono, dropping one spot in the standings. His series-leading four victories this season came at Atlanta, Texas, Lowe's Motor Speedway and Michigan. Kahne has 11 top-10 finishes in 2006. He ranked 21st in the standings at this point last season. Kahne has two top-10 finishes at Indianapolis; his best showing there was second last year. He has a series-best 3.0 average Indianapolis finish. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kahne is ranked seventh in Percentage of Laps Run on Lead Lap (86.17).

No. 8 -- Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 2,514. Hamlin finished first at Pocono to complete a sweep of the races at Pennsylvania this season and climb from 12th to eighth in the standings. He has eight top-10 finishes in 2006. Hamlin has been the highest-finishing rookie in 11 of this year's 20 races. He is competing in his first event at Indianapolis. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Hamlin is ranked first in Consecutive Passes Without being Passed (41).

No. 9 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 2,512. Gordon finished third at Pocono to retain his spot in the standings. His four DNFs in 2006 are the most of the drivers in the top 10. Gordon has four victories (the most recent in 2004) and 10 top-10 finishes in 12 starts at Indianapolis, the most among drivers. He finished eighth in this race last year, extending a five-race streak of top-10 finishes at Indianapolis, the longest among all drivers there. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Gordon is ranked first in Average Running Position (10.547).

No. 10 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 2,477. Stewart finished seventh at Pocono to climb back into the top 10 in the standings. He has one victory (in 2005) and four top-10 finishes in seven races at Indianapolis. Stewart has an 8.428 average Indianapolis finish, second to Kahne's 3.0. He has been running at the finish of all seven of his Indianapolis starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Stewart is ranked fourth in Driver Rating (98.6).

Fast Facts

Top 10 following Pocono (race 20 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 2,939 pts
2. Matt Kenseth 2,842 (-97)
3. Jeff Burton 2,621 (-318)
4. Kyle Busch 2,582 (-357)
5. Kevin Harvick 2,563 (-376)
6. Mark Martin 2,557 (-382)
7. Kasey Kahne 2,515 (-424)
8. Denny Hamlin* 2,514 (-425)
9. Jeff Gordon 2,512 (-427)
10. Tony Stewart 2,477 (-462)

Weeks at No. 1: Johnson (12).

New arrival this week in the Top 10: Denny Hamlin; Tony Stewart

Dropped out of the Top 10: Greg Biffle; Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Closing in on the Top 10:
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,462
12. Greg Biffle 2,433
13. Kurt Busch 2,311
14. Carl Edwards 2,242
15. Casey Mears 2,185

* Denotes Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing