TOP 10 RUNDOWN A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 30, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Neighborhood Excellence 400 presented by Bank of...
TOP 10 RUNDOWN
A weekly look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 30, 2006) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Neighborhood Excellence 400 presented by Bank of America at Dover International Speedway, the 13th of 36 races on the series' schedule (1:30 p.m. ET on FX).
The first 26 races of the season will determine who will be part of the third annual "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup" in the final 10 races. Drivers who are in the top 10 or within 400 points of the points leader after those 26 races will vie for the 2006 series title in the "Chase."
No. 1 -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 1,861. Johnson retained his spot atop the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings with his second-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. He is the only driver with nine top-10 finishes this season. Johnson and LMS winner Kasey Kahne are the series' only three-race winners in 2006. He has ranked among the top 10 for 81 consecutive races, since March 2004. Johnson has three victories in eight starts at Dover, the most recent last September. He won both events in his rookie season in 2002, and has logged top-10 finishes in his last three Dover races. Johnson has an 11.875 average finish at the Delaware track, including a fourth-place showing in this race a year ago. He led the most laps in his first two Dover races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Johnson leads Average Running Position (4.580).
No. 2 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,752. The 2003 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion finished fifth at LMS to jump one spot in the rankings. He has eight top-10 finishes in 2006; seven of the eight are top-five showings. At this point in 2005, Kenseth was 23rd in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings. He has ranked in the top five since the season's second race at California. Kenseth has run 14 races at Dover with mixed results, including seven top-10 finishes, although only one came in his last four outings. His other finishes during that period were DNFs. He placed seventh in this race last year and 35th last September. Kenseth has a 16.071 average finish at Dover. He has never led the most laps in a race at Dover, and has finished on the lead lap there only once in his four most recent starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kenseth ranks fourth in Quality Passes with 19.
No. 3 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 1,652. Martin finished fourth at LMS to climb one position in the standings. He has had only one DNF (at Talladega in October 2005, due to an accident) in the 36 events since this race last season. Martin has run 39 races at Dover with four victories, the most recent in May 2004. He has 24 top-10 finishes at Dover, the most among full-time drivers. Martin finished third in this race a year ago and fourth last September. He has a 13.153 average finish. Martin has led 1,658 laps (during 26 races) at Dover, ninth all-time at the speedway. He has finished on the lead lap in his last four Dover races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Martin ranks first in Fastest Driver in Turn 2 and Fastest Driver in Turn 4.
No. 4 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 1,630. Stewart had a rough weekend at LMS, with accidents in both the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races; he injured his right shoulder blade in the Coca-Cola 600 en route to a 42nd-place finish. He has led a series-best 801 laps this season, two more than Greg Biffle. Stewart has seven top-10 finishes in 2006; six have also been top-five efforts. He has two victories in 14 starts at Dover (both in 2000), including 11 top-10 finishes. He hopes to improve on his 2005 finishes of 15th and 18th, respectively. Stewart has a 6.0 finishing average at Dover, tops among drivers there with more than two starts. He has led 10 of his 14 Dover races, including the most laps in four of his starts, but has not finished on the lead lap in his last two events. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight. Stewart ranks seventh in Fastest Drivers Late in a Run.
No. 5 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). Team: Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Points: 1,590. Earnhardt finished 11th in the Coca-Cola 600 to retain his spot in the standings. He has one victory (in September 2001) at Dover, where he finished 22nd in this race a year ago and 31st last September. Earnhardt has led in seven of his 12 Dover starts for a 16.4 average finish. He has finished on the lead lap in four races at Dover, including once in his last five starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Earnhardt ranks 10th in Fastest on Restarts.
No. 6 -- Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 1,569. Kahne finished first at LMS, tying him with top-ranked Johnson as the series' only three-time winners this season. He has seven top-10 finishes in 2006. Kahne ranked 16th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings at this point last year. He has competed in four races at Dover, finishing 16th or worse in all four. Kahne has a 28.5 average finish at Dover, including three DNFs in his first three outings. He has yet to finish a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event at Dover on the lead lap. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kahne is the second-ranked Closer.
No. 7 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 1,451. After improving his car on each pit stop, Gordon eventually faded for a 36th-place finish at LMS following an accident. The DNF was the four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion's second this season, and his fifth finish of 21st or worse. Gordon has four victories in 26 starts at Dover, including 16 top-10 finishes. He placed 39th in this race a year ago and 37th last September. Gordon has led 2,117 laps at Dover, fourth in the all-time rankings. He has only one top-10 finish in his last four Dover starts. Gordon has led the most laps in five of his Dover starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Gordon is ranked second in Speed in Traffic.
No. 8 -- Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 1,450. Burton finished sixth at LMS to climb two spots in the standings. He has seven top-10 finishes this season. Burton has eight top-10 finishes in 24 races at Dover; his most recent a fourth-place effort in 2004. He finished 12th in this race last year and 11th last September. Burton has led in six races at Dover, but only once has had the point for more than 15 laps per race. He has an 18.708 average finish at Dover. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Burton ranks sixth in Quality Passes.
No. 9 -- Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 1,437. Busch finished 38th at LMS to drop two positions in the standings. The finish was his third of 32nd or worse in his last five races. Busch has six top-10 finishes this season. He has finished second in both of his Dover starts. Busch has a 2.0 average finish at Dover, tops among his rivals. He has led 90 laps at Dover. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Busch ranks first in Fastest on Restarts.
No. 10 -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 1,426. Harvick finished 34th at LMS to slip one spot in the series points. The finish was his third showing of 23rd or worse in the last four races. Harvick has five top-10 finishes this year. He has had four top-10 outings in 10 races at Dover, but finished 25th in this race last year and 19th in September. Harvick has a 17.6 average finish at Dover. He has led only one Dover race (September 2003), but his 133 laps led was tops among the competition during that fourth-place outing. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Harvick ranks seventh in Fastest Drivers on the Frontstretch.
Top 10 following Lowe's (race 12 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 1,861 pts
2. Matt Kenseth 1,752 (-109)
3. Mark Martin 1,652 (-209)
4. Tony Stewart 1,630 (-231)
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1,590 (-271)
6. Kasey Kahne 1,569 (-292)
7. Jeff Gordon 1,451 (-410)
8. Jeff Burton 1,450 (-411)
9. Kyle Busch 1,437 (-424)
10. Kevin Harvick 1,426 (-435)
Weeks at No. 1: Johnson (4).
New arrivals in the Top 10: None
Dropped out of the Top 10: None
Closing in on the Top 10:
11. Casey Mears 1,374 pts.
12. Denny Hamlin Jr. * 1,362
13. Greg Biffle 1,340
14. Carl Edwards 1,331
15. Clint Bowyer * 1,287
*Denotes Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.