Race to the Chase Rundown: Pocono A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10, as the 'Chase' approaches DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 18, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's ...
Race to the Chase Rundown: Pocono
A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10, as the 'Chase' approaches
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 18, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway (1:40 p.m. TNT), the fourth event in the "Race for the Chase," the 10 events prefacing the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."
The Pennsylvania 500 is the 20th of 36 races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule. The first 26 races of the season determine who will be part of the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup in the final 10 races. Drivers who are in the top 10 or within 400 points of the leader after those 26 races will vie for the series title in the "Chase."
No. 1 -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 2,672. Previous ranking: 1. Johnson finished 13th at New Hampshire; he remains the only driver with 13 top-10 finishes in the first 19 races of 2005. A winner this year at Las Vegas and Lowe's, he has ranked among the top 10 since Las Vegas in March 2004, or 52 consecutive races. Johnson has competed in seven races at Pocono with four top-10 finishes, including back-to-back victories in 2004. He has led in four races at the 2.5-mile track, and his 7.6 average finish is tops at Pocono. Johnson finished sixth at Pocono in June.
No. 2 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Subway Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,595 (-77). Previous ranking: 2. Biffle finished fifth at New Hampshire; he has ranked in the top five in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series points since the season's second race, at California. He has 11 top-10 finishes in 2005, including a series-leading five victories, at California, Texas, Darlington, Dover and Michigan. Biffle has run five races at Pocono, finishing 11th or worse in four of his last five races there. His only top-10 finish (fourth) came in this race last year. Biffle finished 30th at Pocono in June.
No. 3 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 2,587 (-85). Previous ranking: 3. Stewart remained on a hot streak, his New Hampshire triumph coming on the heels of two other victories in his last four races, at Infineon and Daytona. His streak also includes a runner-up finish at Michigan and a fifth at Chicagoland. Stewart has 11 top-10 finishes this season. He has made up 295 points on the leader in his last five races. Stewart has run 13 races at Pocono with eight top-10 finishes, including a victory in June 2003. Since that triumph, he has four consecutive finishes there of 27th or worse, including two DNFs. He finished 35th in this race last year and was 29th in June. Stewart has led in five of his 13 Pocono races.
No. 4 -- Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 2,442 (-230). Previous ranking: 4. Wallace finished eighth at New Hampshire; he has 10 top-10 finishes this year. He has been running at the finish of a series-leading 32 consecutive races, since Bristol last fall. Wallace has competed in 43 races at Pocono with 16 top-10 finishes, including victories in 2000, 1996, 1994 and 1991. He finished 17th in this race a year ago and 11th in June. He has not scored a top-10 finish in his last six races there.
No. 5 -- Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,347 (-325). Previous ranking: 10. The reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion battled himself and his pit crew all day but rallied to finish second at New Hampshire and jump five spots in the rankings. He has 10 top-10 finishes this year. Busch and No. 6 Ryan Newman have the same number of points, but Busch ranks higher due to his Phoenix victory in April. Busch has run nine races at Pocono with three top-10 finishes. He placed 26th in this race a year ago and 22nd in June.
No. 6 -- Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 2,347 (-325). Previous ranking: 7. Newman finished seventh at New Hampshire, his ninth top-10 finish this season. He has competed in seven races at Pocono with three top-10 finishes, including a victory in July 2003. Newman placed 13th in this race a year ago and 34th in June, his worst finish and his second DNF (his other came in 2002). He has led in four of his seven Pocono starts.
No. 7 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,320 (-352). Previous ranking: 6. Martin finished 15th at New Hampshire, keeping his number of top-finishes this year at nine. Martin has competed in 37 races at Pocono with 26 top-10 finishes. His best Pocono finish of second, which he has logged six times, came most recently in this race last year. He placed seventh there in June. Martin's 7.1 starting average is tops among drivers with six Pocono starts; he has a 10.7 finish average. Martin has led in 24 of his 37 Pocono starts.
No. 8 -- Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 2,285 (-387). Previous ranking: 9. Mayfield finished 19th at New Hampshire to keep his number of top-10 finishes at four. Mayfield has competed in 22 races at Pocono with nine top-10 finishes, including his first series victory (in 1998) and another in June of 2000. Mayfield finished ninth in this race one year ago and 14th in June.
No. 9 -- Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford). Team: Robert Yates Racing. Points: 2,276 (-396). Previous ranking: 5. Sadler finished 39th at New Hampshire, his worst outing of the year. He has dropped from third to ninth in the rankings in his last four races. Sadler has nine top-10 finishes this season, but has also finished 20th or worse in seven races. He has competed in 13 races at Pocono with two top-10 finishes; he placed 10th in this race last year and was 21st in June. Sadler has led in two of his 13 Pocono starts, and his string of 13 races running at the finish leads all active drivers.
No. 10 -- Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford). Team: Robert Yates Racing. Points: 2,254 (-418). Previous ranking 11. Jarrett finished 16th at New Hampshire to crack the top-10 in the rankings. He has five top-10 finishes this season. Jarrett has competed in 37 races at Pocono with 18 top-10 finishes, including victories in 2002, 1997 and 1995. He has not scored a top-10 finish in his last five races there. Jarrett finished 24th in this race last year and was 13th in June.
Top 10 following the New England 300 (Race 19 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 2,672 pts.
2. Greg Biffle 2,595 (-77)
3. Tony Stewart 2,587 (-85)
4. Rusty Wallace 2,442 (-230)
5. Kurt Busch 2,347 (-325)
6. Ryan Newman 2,347 (-325)
7. Mark Martin 2,320 (-352)
8. Jeremy Mayfield 2,285 (-387)
9. Elliott Sadler 2,276 (-396)
10. Dale Jarrett 2,254 (-418)
New arrival in the Top 10: Dale Jarrett.
Dropped out of the Top 10: Jamie McMurray.
Closing in on the Top 10: No. 11 Jamie McMurray (-21 pts. out of 10th); No. 12 Carl Edwards (-54); No. 13 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-59); No. 14 Kevin Harvick (-105); No. 15 Jeff Gordon (-120).