Top-10 Rundown A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 drivers DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 4, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Advance Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville Speedway,...
A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 drivers
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 4, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Advance Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville Speedway, the sixth of 36 races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule (1:20 p.m. ET on FOX). The first 26 races of the season will determine who will be part of the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup in the final 10 races. Drivers who are in the NASCAR 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: 835. Previous: 1. Although his sixth-place finish at Bristol was his first outside the top five this season, Johnson remained first in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings. Johnson extended his top-10 streak dating to Charlotte last October with his 11th consecutive finish of sixth or better. He has ranked among the top 10 since Las Vegas in March 2004, and is the only driver with five top-10 finishes in 2005. Johnson has top-10 finishes in the last five races at Martinsville; he was fourth in this race last year and logged his only victory there in October.
No. 2 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Subway Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 741 (-94). Previous ranking: 2. Biffle remained second in the standings off a ninth-place finish at Bristol, his fourth consecutive week among the top five and his best career showing to date. His highest standing in the 2004 points race was 13th after the Daytona 500. Biffle has four top-10 finishes this year. He has finished 17th or worse in four Martinsville starts; he was 35th a year ago and 17th in October.
No. 3 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 679 (-156). Previous ranking: 7. Stewart finished third at Bristol for three top-10 finishes in 2005. He has ranked in the top 10 in the standings for 50 consecutive races, since Dover in September of 2003, the longest current streak. Stewart has six top-10 finishes in 12 races at Martinsville, including a victory in October 2000. He was 14th in this race last year and 15th in October.
No. 4 -- Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 678 (-157). Previous ranking: 3. Edwards suffered a broken radiator early at Bristol, but returned to the track for a 26th-place finish. His fourth-place points ranking marks his fourth consecutive week in the top five in the standings. Edwards has four top-15 finishes in five races in 2005. He competed in 13 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races in 2004, with one start at Martinsville, starting 22nd and finishing 24th there in October.
No. 5 -- Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford). Team: Robert Yates Racing. Points: 657 (-178). Previous ranking: 8. Sadler gained three positions in the standings with a second-place finish at Bristol. He has three top-10 finishes in 2005, an improvement over last season when he was 10th in the standings after five races. Sadler has one top-10 finish in 12 Martinsville starts, a fifth in April 2003. He finished 12th in this race last year and 32nd in October, his only DNF at the track.
No. 6 -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 654 (-181). Previous ranking: 11. Starting from the rear of the field when his steering fluid leaked, Harvick bounced back for a victory at Bristol, his first since the 2003 Brickyard 400, a drought of 55 races. He became the fifth different race winner in five races this season. He has three top-10 finishes in 2005. Harvick has two top-10 finishes in seven Martinsville races; he finished 19th at Martinsville a year ago and eighth in October.
No. 7 -- Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 635 (-200). Previous ranking: 4. The reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion took a hard lick when he ran out of room and was knocked into a spinning Jeff Burton at Bristol, ultimately finishing 35th and dropping three positions in the standings. He has three top-five finishes this season. Busch has three top-10 finishes in nine races at Martinsville, including a victory in October 2002. He placed 11th there a year ago and fifth last October.
No. 8 -- Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford). Team: Robert Yates Racing. Points: 611 (-224). Previous ranking: 15. Jarrett's fifth-place finish at Bristol, his first in the top 10 in 2005, lifted him from 15th to eighth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings. His Bristol finish was also his first in the top 10 since a 10th at Charlotte last October. Jarrett has one victory in 37 Martinsville races, which came in April 2001. He has 18 top-10 finishes at the Virginia short track; he was 10th there a year ago and 37th in October. Jarrett ranked 22nd five races into 2004.
No. 9 -- Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge). Team: Penske Racing. Points: 611 (-224). Previous ranking: 9. Wallace finished 13th at Bristol, his fourth top-15 finish in 2005. He has seven victories in 42 races at Martinsville, the most among active drivers (Richard Petty leads the category with 15). Wallace's 3,585 laps led is also first among active drivers; Cale Yarborough led a series-high 3,851 laps and Darrell Waltrip 3,616. He won this race in 2004 and finished 10th in October. Wallace ranked 23rd in the standings five races into 2004.
No. 10 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 609 (-226) Previous ranking: 5. Martin dropped five spots in the standings with his 31st place finish at Bristol, his third top-10 finish in 2005. Martin has been running at the finish of 27 consecutive races, the longest current streak. He has two victories at Martinsville, in the spring races in 1992 and 2000. He has 20 top-10 finishes in 38 races at the track, but has placed outside the top 10 in his last four events there. He was 34th there last year and 12th in October. Martin ranked 12th in the standings at this point in 2004.
Top 10 following Bristol (Race 5 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 835 pts.
2. Greg Biffle 741 (-94)
3. Tony Stewart 679 (-156)
4. Carl Edwards 678 (-157)
5. Elliott Sadler 657 (-178)
6. Kevin Harvick 654 (-181)
7. Kurt Busch 635 (-200)
8. Dale Jarrett 611 (-224)
9. Rusty Wallace 611 (-224)
10. Mark Martin 609 (-226)
New arrivals in the Top 10: Harvick, Jarrett.
Dropped out of the Top 10: Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray.
Closing in on the Top 10: No. 11 Newman (588, -21 out of 10th); No. 12 Jeff Gordon (587, -22); No. 13. Sterling Marlin (568, -41); No. 14. Scott Riggs (566, -43); No. 15. McMurray (566, -43).