* The race for 11th place: McMurray holds on, but Gordon charges to challenge * Texas Terry rides again; Biffle tries for fourth season sweep in four weeks. NEWS AND NOTES Race for 11th Place: Gordon Closes In ... Four-time NASCAR NEXTEL...
* The race for 11th place: McMurray holds on, but Gordon charges to challenge
* Texas Terry rides again; Biffle tries for fourth season sweep in four weeks.
NEWS AND NOTES
Race for 11th Place: Gordon Closes In ... Four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) jumped three positions to 12th place in the series points race. He won at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway two weeks ago, then finished second to Carl Edwards last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Following both events, Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) held the 11th-place spot worth at least $1 million (which includes a $250,000 bonus at seasons end). The gap between 11th and 12th is a slim 42 points.
Here's a closer look at the drivers in spots 11 through 15, who are separated by only 89 points:
• 11th place -- McMurray, has held the position for two weeks, having wrestled it from Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&Ms Ford), who held the position until after Martinsville.
• 12th place -- Gordon, who is 40 points behind McMurray with a three position gain in the standings. He's been rejuvenated after a tough season outside the Chase.
• 13th place -- Sadler gained a position after his 10th-place finish at Atlanta. Sadler trails Gordon by 18 points.
• 14th place -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) dropped two spots in the standings following his 22nd-place finish at Atlanta. Harvick trails Sadler by 11 points.
• 15th place -- Joe Nemechek (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet) fell two positions following his 18th-place finish at Atlanta. He trails Harvick by 18 points.
Texas Tough on Bud Pole Winners ... Entering the Dickies 500, no NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bud Pole Award winner has gone on to win that event. Overall, three Texas all-time Bud Pole Award winners also have made it to Victory Lane in a separate event. They are Ryan Newman, Terry Labonte (No. 44 Kellogg's Chevrolet) and Dale Earnhardt Jr., (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). Newman is the track's newest Bud Pole Award winner, having taken it there in April. He went on to finish 16th.
Charting the Chasers ... Four Chase participants gained ground in the standings following the Atlanta event. With only three races remaining, including Sunday's Dickies 500, they are hopeful the momentum continues. Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards jumped to third and fourth respectively, each passing Ryan Newman. Mark Martin jumped from seventh to sixth in the standings, while Matt Kenseth picked up two spots moving into seventh place. Rusty Wallace's 19th-place finish at Martinsville and 37th-place finish at Atlanta, both due to incidents, dropped him to seventh in Chase points. Kurt Busch fell one spot to ninth after a 37th-place finish at Atlanta. Jeremy Mayfield remains in 10th place.
Newman To Make 150th start ... Sunday's Dickies 500 is Ryan Newman's 150th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start. In 149 previous starts, he has 12 wins, 52 top fives and 75 top 10s along with 34 Bud Pole Awards. At Texas Motor Speedway, Newman has one win (2003) and one Bud Pole Award -- in April this year. He says his past success is no guarantee at TMS: "We won there in 2003, but we haven't really been able to gain any momentum there from that win," Newman said. "We finally figured out qualifying there in the spring. Hopefully this weekend we'll unload fast and win another pole. That gives us a better chance of earning five bonus points for leading a lap. The important thing, though, is to make sure the car is fast not only for one lap, but for 334 of them."
Pit Crew Spotlight: Roush teams stand out ... While Texas Motor Speedway's records, statistics and numbers are divided among many teams, one name stands out: Jack Roush. When Greg Biffle won the spring race at Texas, it gave Roush his fourth Texas victory as a car owner. Biffle's crew chief Doug Richert, a San Jose, Calif., native, selected his team's chassis No. 195 for the spring race because it had been competitive at Atlanta, similarly configured to Texas. Other key team members at the track this weekend include car chief Bobby Bakeeff of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and the team's over-the-wall pit crew of front tire carrier Jeff Silver of Forest City, N.C.; front tire changer Adam Emmert of Kamiah, Idaho; rear tire carrier T.J. Hamilton of Greensboro, N.C.; rear tire changer Joe Slingerland of Elizabethtown, Ky.; jackman Jeff Merkel of Hauppauge, NY; gas man Rodger Ueltschi of Vancouver, Wash.; catch can man, John Goodman of Huntersville, NC; and windshield man Justin Hines of Garden City, Mich.
The NASCAR Leaderboard ... While Tony Stewart sits atop the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings, he also leads the field in several key categories. Stewart leads in winnings, laps led, miles led, wins (tied with Greg Biffle with five wins each), top-five finishes and top-10 finishes.
UPS delivers for holidays ... No. 88 UPS Ford driver Dale Jarrett and 4,000 UPS Store locations have joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation and Action Collectibles to raise $1 million for the foundation's 58-year-old holiday season campaign. Jarrett's daughters and son, Natalee (17), Karsyn (15), and Zachary (10) created the paint scheme for the car their father will race at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Participating UPS Store locations will offer a limited edition 1:43-scale die-cast replica of the car that comes with a $1 pledge card to help purchase toys. Action dealers also will offer a variety of collector scales of the car. The UPS/Toys for Tots Ford is primarily lime green with tomato red trim. Following the event, Jarrett will autograph and donate the uniform he used in the event for auction on eBay, with proceeds going to the Toys for Tots campaign. The U.S. Marine Toys for Tots Foundation collects and distributes toys to needy children during the holidays. The goal is to deliver a message of hope and a smile for needy youngsters with a shiny new toy. "There is nothing more rewarding than putting a smile on a child's face," Jarrett said. "It's particularly meaningful when you can do that for a child whose holidays may not be very bright."
Texas Terry Rides Again ... Two-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Terry Labonte of Corpus Christi, Tex, will conclude his 10-race 2005 season this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Labonte is scheduled to return in 2006 for a similar 10-race schedule before slipping into retirement. Labonte will drive the No. 44 Kellogg's Chevrolet with high hopes of a good finish for his home state fans. So far, Labonte's best finish this year was 12th at Pocono Raceway in June, and his best qualifying effort was 11th in February at California Speedway. He'd like to improve on his 43rd-place start and 40th-place finish in April's Texas race. Labonte, 48, is in his 27th season of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition. He picked up a pair of nicknames along the way -- Iron Man for his 655 consecutive race starting record that ended in 2000, and Iceman, for his cool and calm demeanor. "One of the things that excited me about moving to a part-time deal was being able to pick my favorite tracks," Labonte said. "I've got great balance. I'm visiting my ranch (in Texas), spending time with family, working with Justin (his son's NASCAR Busch Series effort), and racing."
Tackling the Trio ... Two of the four drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson, have never won a race at any of the final three tracks. Ryan Newman has his Texas win, Greg Biffle has won at Texas and Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Tony Stewart has one win at Phoenix and a pair of wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Two times four ... If Greg Biffle can win at Texas, he'll become the fourth driver in as many weeks to win both season events at a single track. The three prior drivers to "sweep" tracks this year include Jeff Gordon (Martinsville), Carl Edwards (Atlanta), and Jimmie Johnson (Lowe's). "Texas is one of the fastest, smoothest tracks we go to all season," Biffle said. "You've got to have it all to be successful here: horse-power, aerodynamics, handling, and pit strategy. There's very little room for error here. We are bringing the same car we ran at Kansas a few weeks ago, and judging by our performance there we should be in good shape. We've let a few races slip away from us this year, including the first Texas race, but I can assure you we aren't going to let that happen to us again." Biffle collected his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event win at TMS in April, and has finished as high as second in NASCAR Busch Series competition there.
The inaugural event ... The inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997 was won by Jeff Burton driving a Roush Racing Ford Thunderbird. It was Burton's first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series win and the 19th win for Roush Racing. Ten different drivers swapped the lead 19 times. Burton crossed the finish line 4.067 seconds ahead of runner-up Dale Jarrett. Texas natives Terry and Bobby Labonte started side-by-side in the second row for the start of the event. Terry started third and Bobby started fourth. At the finish, their positions were reversed, with Bobby placing third and Terry fourth.
From the archives: A wonderful win ... One of the most memorable days in the life and career of Dale Earnhardt Jr. occurred at Texas Motor Speedway on April 2, 2000. In the midst of his rookie season, Earnhardt Jr. started fourth, while his legendary father Dale Earnhardt (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) started 17th. Earnhardt Jr. dominated the day, leading the most laps en route to his first career win. His father never led a lap, but finished seventh in a fierce race that saw 29 lead changes among 17 drivers. Earnhardt Jr. won the event by a whopping 5.920 seconds. Father and son celebrated in a joyous Victory Lane.
On Deck: Phoenix International Raceway ... The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series continues with the 35th race of the 36-race season at Phoenix International Raceway Nov. 13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the defending champion of the Checker Auto Parts 500 while Ryan Newman sat on the Bud Pole last year.
The race: Dickies 500
The track: Texas Motor Speedway, Justin, Texas
The date/time: Sunday, Nov. 6 at 3:50 p.m. (ET).
TV: NBC, 3 p.m. (ET).
Radio: PRN/XM Satellite.
Posted awards: $6,880,880
Race length: 500 mile, 334 laps
Track layout: 1.5-mile oval.
2004 winner: Inaugural event.
2004 polesitter: Inaugural event.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Tony Stewart 6,100. 2. Jimmie Johnson 6,057. 3. Greg Biffle 6,025. 4. Carl Edwards 5,993. 5. Ryan Newman 5,993. 6. Mark Martin 5,957. 7. Matt Kenseth 5,945. 8. Rusty Wallace 5,843. 9. Kurt Busch 5,840. 10. Jeremy Mayfield 5790.