Stewart, Johnson have momentum in Chase

October 23, 2005 (Martinsville, VA)
By Linda Przygodski -

After Martinsville, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson have pulled out to a two-man battle for the Nextel Cup with just four races to go to determine the champion. Johnson trails Stewart by just 15 points while the third place car of Ryan Newman falls back some 63 points behind the leader.

1. Tony Stewart: Finished 2nd, Point leader

Stewart led a race high 283 laps but faded close to the end of the Subway 500 settling for second against Jeff Gordon.

"With four weeks to go you can't narrow it down yet," said Stewart. "It's too early. The math is how you do it. Mathematically, everybody is still in it. As long as everybody is mathematically in it, I don't know how you can count anybody out of it."

2. Jimmie Johnson: Finished 3rd, (-15)

Johnson was running second with Tony Stewart on his bumper and Stewart gave the No. 48 the slightest nudge to power by taking the spot. Johnson had to settle for third.

"I think as the weeks wear on, it's going to be a smaller group of cars," Johnson said. "I still think it's too early to count anybody out. There's a lot of good tracks coming up for the Roush cars."

3. Ryan Newman: Finished 10th, (-63)

Strong consistent veritably trouble free day for the No. 12 Dodge.

"That's another top ten and that was good," Newman commented. "We've had five top-10's in six Chase races now, but it's going to take some wins and top fives in these final four races."

4. Greg Biffle: Finished 20th, (-83)

Biffle got caught up in a wreck between Travis Kvapil and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. that got the No.16 Ford a lap down. They never recovered.

"It was the kind of day we were hoping for up until Junior spun the 77. That hurt us bad. We were gonna be about 14th or 15th, our car was really good there on the top. I know Junior didn't mean to spin anyone it just ruined our race," commented Biffle.

5. Carl Edwards: Finished 26th, (-149)

"That was a long day," Edwards said. "It seemed like our front brakes weren't holding up very well, so what happened is the harder and harder we'd go, especially following people, it would just smoke the front brakes. That made it harder and harder to go into the corner and even with that we were having trouble.

"That's how I got into the 15. I put my nose out there to go under him and when he closed the door, like he had the right to, man, that pedal was rock solid. The thing locked the rears up and wouldn't stop. I feel bad for putting him out of it, but, overall, it was just a bad day for us. At least we didn't get hurt."

6. Rusty Wallace: Finished 19th, (-166)

A late race spin finished off an otherwise good effort by the No. 2 Dodge team.

"I went up to pass a lapped car and when I got up to pass him he was on the outside and he came over," Wallace said. "When he came over he clipped my left front fender and I had to jump out of the gas and when I jumped out of the gas I got hit in the rear end."

7. Mark Martin: Finished 34th (-170)

Martin experienced brake rotor problems which relegated him to a 34th place finish.

"We'll just keep fighting," said Martin. "I'm charged up. I'm excited. After a weekend of my race team fighting like they fought, we've got four more races so we're gonna go see if we can win some."

8. Kurt Busch: Finished 6th, (-172)

They overcame a one lap penalty for rough driving to grab a top-ten result once again showing the chutzpah of the defending championship team.

"All in all it was great," Busch explained. "To be able to come back and work our way through the pack. We took four tires when we thought we needed to stay out and then we had a long green flag run and that put us into a great position."

9. Matt Kenseth: Finished 12th, (-172)

Kenseth was involved in a couple of on track incidents but none that took him out of the race or did tremendous harm to the No. 17 Ford; good top-15 run for Team Kenseth.

10. Jeremy Mayfield: Finished 28th, (-216)

"We had a great car, we just had that right front go down," said Mayfield. "I just screwed up and got back up there and then screwed up on pit road (speeding). Then we cut a tire down. We had a good car all day, a great car."

On the bubble:

11. Jamie McMurray: Finished 7th

A poor run for the No. 38 team of Elliott Sadler allowed McMurray to climb three spots into 11th place.

Kevin Harvick (-18), Joe Nemechek (-48) and Elliott Sadler (-49) trail McMurray for the 11th spot.