NEXTEL Cup Series Top-10 Rundown; A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 drivers DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 20, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350 ...
NEXTEL Cup Series Top-10 Rundown;
A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 drivers
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 20, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, the 16th of 36 races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule (3:35 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 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: 2,173. Previous ranking: 1. Johnson finished 19th at Michigan to advance to 12 the number of consecutive races he has led the standings, dating to March at Atlanta. He has ranked in the top 10 a series-leading 48 consecutive races, since Las Vegas in March of 2004. Johnson is the only driver with 11 top-10 finishes this season. He has competed in three races at Infineon with one top-10 finish, a fifth-place effort a year ago. Johnson's other two finishes there were 17th in 2003 and 35th in 2002. He has never led at Infineon.
No. 2 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Subway Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 2,124 (-49). Previous ranking: 2. Biffle took the checkered flag at Michigan for his series-leading fifth victory of 2005. He also won at California, Texas, Darlington and Dover. Biffle has logged five top-10 finishes in the last six races and 10 top-10 efforts this season, one less than Johnson. The only driver to lead at least one lap in 11 of the 15 races this year, Biffle has paced the field for a series-leading 953 laps, 312 more than sixth-ranked Tony Stewart. Biffle has run two races at Infineon, finishing 13th last year and 37th in 2003. He hasn't led a lap there.
No. 3 -- Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford). Team: Robert Yates Racing. Points: 1,923 (-250). Previous ranking: 3. Sadler finished eighth at Michigan, his eighth top-10 effort this year. He has competed in six races at the Sonoma, Calif., road course, with two top-10 finishes. Sadler's best finish there was sixth in 2002; he was 10th in this race last year. Although he has led just three laps at Infineon, he has been running at the finish in all six of his starts. Sadler ranked seventh in the standings after 15 races in 2004.
No. 4 -- Carl Edwards (No. 99 AAA/Office Depot Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,914 (-259). Previous ranking: 4. Edwards finished fifth at Michigan to retain his spot in the rankings. He has two victories in 2005, at Pocono and Atlanta. Edwards has seven top-10 finishes this season. This will be his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup start at Infineon Raceway. He joins Biffle, fifth-ranked Mark Martin and reigning series champion and ninth-ranked Kurt Busch as one of four Roush drivers in the top 10 in the standings.
No. 5 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,904 (-269). Previous ranking: 5. Martin finished third at Michigan, his third consecutive top-10 effort that began three races ago at Dover. He has eight top-10 finishes in 2005. Martin has run all 16 races at Infineon, with a victory in 1997; he has posted top-10 finishes in 13 of 16 starts there, more than any other driver. Martin has finished second at Infineon four times; he was eighth in this race last year.
No. 6 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 1,862 (-311). Previous ranking: 10. Stewart finished second at Michigan, the only non-Roush driver to place in the top five. He has seven top-10 finishes this season. Stewart has run six races at Infineon with three top-10 finishes, including a victory in 2001. He finished 15th in this race in 2004. Stewart has led in four of his six Infineon starts.
No. 7 -- Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 1,856 (-317). Previous ranking: 6. Newman, who started from the pole, finished 15th at Michigan. He has seven top-10 finishes this season. Newman has competed in three races at Infineon, scoring two top-10 finishes. He was 14th last year, his worst showing to date over the 12-turn road course. Newman has never led a lap at Infineon. He ranked ninth in the standings at this point last year.
No. 8 -- Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 1,848 (-325). Previous ranking: 8. Wallace finished 10th at Michigan to retain his spot in the standings. He has seven top-10 finishes in 2005. One of the top road-course specialists in the field, Wallace has run all 16 races at Infineon with 10 top-10 finishes, including victories in 1996 and 1990. He finished 28th there last year.
No. 9 -- Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,813 (-360). Previous ranking: 11. Busch finished 12th at Michigan to jump back into the top 10 in the rankings. He has seven top-10 finishes this season. Busch has competed in four races at Infineon with one top-10 finish, a fourth-place effort in 2002. He was 36th last year, his worst effort to date. Busch has been running at the finish in the four races he's run there.
No. 10 -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 1,803 (-370). Previous ranking: 7. Harvick finished 25th at Michigan to drop three spots in the rankings. He has five top-10 finishes in 2005. He has been running at the end of all four races he has run at Infineon. He has one top-10 finish there, a third-place effort in 2003. He finished 12th in this race last year.
Top 10 after 15 races:
1. Jimmie Johnson 2,173 pts.
2. Greg Biffle 2,124 (-49)
3. Elliott Sadler 1,923 (-250)
4. Carl Edwards 1,914 (-259)
5. Mark Martin 1,904 (-269)
6. Tony Stewart 1,862 (-311)
7. Ryan Newman 1,856 (-317)
8. Rusty Wallace 1,848 (-325)
9. Kurt Busch 1,813 (-360)
10. Kevin Harvick 1,803 (-370)
New arrival in the Top 10: Kurt Busch.
Dropped out of the Top 10: Jeff Gordon.
Closing in on the Top 10: No. 11 Jamie McMurray (-4 pts. out of 10th); No. 12 Jeff Gordon (-36); No. 13 Jeremy Mayfield (-47); No. 14 Michael Waltrip (-73); No. 15 Dale Jarrett (-88).