Top-10 Rundown A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 drivers DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 18, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series top 10 heading into Saturday night's Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix...
A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 drivers
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 18, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series top 10 heading into Saturday night's Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, the eighth of 36 races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule (7:55 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: 1142. Previous: 1. Johnson finished third at Texas, his fifth top-five performance this season; he is the only driver to log top-10 finishes in all seven races this year. He has five victories and 13 top-10 finishes in the 13 races since Charlotte last October. Johnson has ranked first in the standings for four consecutive races. He has competed in three races at Phoenix, scoring top-10 finishes in his last two. He was sixth in this race last year, the only race there in which he failed to lead at least one lap.
No. 2 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Subway Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1007 (-135). Previous ranking: 2. Biffle was first at Texas, his second victory of 2005 (he also won at California), to remain second in the points for the fourth consecutive race. This was his fifth top-10 finish in seven races and marks his sixth consecutive week in the top five in the standings -- his highest career ranking. Biffle has top-15 finishes in his two starts at Phoenix; he was 13th a year ago. He ranked 19th in the standings at this point last season.
No. 3 -- Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge). Team: Penske Racing. Points: 905 (-237). Previous ranking: 7. Wallace finished 10th at Texas to climb four positions in the standings; it is his highest ranking since he was third following the April 2002 race at Talladega. He has six top-15 finishes in 2005. Wallace has run all 17 races at Phoenix with a victory in 1998 among eight top-10 finishes. He was seventh a year ago. Wallace has led 868 laps at Phoenix, most in the series. He ranked 11th in the standings one year ago.
No. 4 -- Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 897 (-245). Previous ranking: 9. The reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion finished seventh at Texas to advance five spots in the standings. He has four top-10 finishes this season and has ranked in the top 10 in the standings for 41 consecutive races (since Rockingham in February 2004), the series' longest streak. Busch has competed in five races at Phoenix, posting three top-10 finishes in his last three outings. He finished 10th there in 2004.
No. 5 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 895 (-247). Previous ranking: 6. Gordon finished 15th at Texas, helping him climb from 12th to fifth in the last two races. He has five top-15 finishes, including victories at Daytona and Martinsville. Gordon has 10 top-10 finishes in 12 races at Phoenix, the longest current streak among all drivers. Phoenix is one of only four tracks where he has not won (Chicagoland, Texas and Homestead-Miami are the others). He finished third in this race last year.
No. 6 -- Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge). Team: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Points: 883 (-259). Previous ranking: 12. Taking only two tires during his last pit stop at Texas, Marlin advanced 11 spots in the field to finish fifth and jump from 12th to sixth in the standings. His best finish this year gives him his highest ranking since he was fifth after Kansas in September 2002. He has three top-10 finishes in 2005, including the last two races. Marlin has four top-10 finishes in 16 races at Phoenix; he placed 15th a year ago. Marlin was 16th in the standings seven races into 2004.
No. 7 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 882 (-260). Previous ranking: 4. Martin finished 20th at Texas, dropping three positions in the standings. He has posted four top-10 finishes in 2005, his final season of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing. Martin has run all 17 races at Phoenix, logging a victory in 1993. His eight top-five and 13 top-10 finishes lead all drivers at Phoenix. Martin finished 15th there one year ago. He has been running at the finish in 29 consecutive races, the longest current streak among active drivers. He was 16th in the standings after seven races in 2004.
No. 8 -- Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford). Team: Robert Yates Racing. Points: 879 (-263). Previous ranking: 3. Despite numerous adjustments throughout the race by his crew, Sadler was able to run with the leaders at Texas before his engine finally gave way on Lap 325, resulting in a 28th-place finish and his first DNF of the year. Sadler has four top-10 finishes this season. He has run six races at Phoenix with one top-10 finish, a 10th in 2002; his other finishes there have been 20th or worse, including a 38th last year. Sadler was ranked fifth in the standings at this point last year.
No. 9 -- Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge). Team: Penske Racing. Points: 873 (-269). Previous ranking: 8. Newman placed 16th at Texas, his third finish outside the top 15 in 2005, to drop one position in the standings. He has three top-10 finishes this season. Newman has competed in five races at Phoenix, with top-five finishes in his last two races there; his other three were 18th or worse and included DNFs in his first two outings. Newman finished second in this race last year, his best Phoenix finish.
No. 10 -- Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford). Team: Robert Yates Racing. Points: 853 (-289). Previous ranking: 10. Jarrett finished 14th at Texas to remain 10th in the standings, four points ahead of 11th-place Tony Stewart. Only 52 points separate 10th to third in the standings. Jarrett has finished in the top-25 in seven races this season. He has run all 17 Phoenix events, with a victory in 1997 and eight top-10 finishes. He was 22nd there last year, his second consecutive Phoenix outing outside the top 20. Jarrett ranked 20th in the standings at this point in 2004.
Top 10 following Texas (Race 7 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 1142 pts.
2. Greg Biffle 1007 (-135)
3. Rusty Wallace 905 (-237)
4. Kurt Busch 897 (-245)
5. Jeff Gordon 895 (-247)
6. Sterling Marlin 883 (-259)
7. Mark Martin 882 (-260)
8. Elliott Sadler 879 (-263)
9. Ryan Newman 873 (-269)
10. Dale Jarrett 853 (-289)
New arrivals in the Top 10: Sterling Marlin.
Dropped out of the Top 10: Tony Stewart.
Closing in on the Top 10: No. 11 Stewart 849 (-4 pts. out of 10th); Kevin Harvick 845 (- 8); Carl Edwards 833 (-20); Jamie McMurray 824 (-29); Dale Earnhardt Jr. 787 (-66).