Chase for the Cup: The Finale

November 14, 2005

A look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 during the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 14, 2005) -- The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's Ford 400 (3 p.m. on NBC) at Homestead-Miami Speedway the 10th and final event in the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup." The Ford 400 is the 36th of 36 races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule. The first 26 races determined who would be part of the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Drivers outside the "Chase" are still competing for the 11th spot, which will pay in excess of $1 million.

No. 1 -- Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 6,415 Previous ranking: 1. Stewart finished fourth at Phoenix, his series-leading 25th top-10 effort in 2005. He has seven top-10 finishes in the nine Chase races to date, tying him with Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards for the most. His worst Chase finish was 25th at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Stewart has earned 50 bonus points in the Chase, five more than any other Chase driver, and has led the most laps (599), more than double any other Chase driver. If he finishes ninth or better at Homestead-Miami, he will clinch his second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title (his other was in 2002). Stewart has competed in six races at Homestead with four top-10 finishes, including victories in 1999 and 2000. He placed fourth there last year. Stewart is the only driver to lead in five of the six Homestead races. He has an 8.33 average finish at Homestead, first among Chase contestants.

No. 2 -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 6,363 (-52 pts). Previous ranking: 2. Johnson finished seventh at Phoenix, his 22nd top-10 showing this season. He led the point standings after 17 of 35 races this year, but has ranked first only once during the Chase, following Dover. His worst Chase showing was 31st at Talladega. Johnson and Edwards are the only Chase finalists to score multiple (two) victories in the first nine Chase events. He has ranked among the top 10 since Las Vegas in March of 2004, or 68 consecutive races, the longest active streak in the top 10. Johnson has run four races at Homestead, with three top-10 finishes in his last three races there. He finished second there one year ago, his best effort there. Johnson has a 9.5 average finish at Homestead, second among Chase drivers.

No. 3 -- Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 6,328 (-87). Previous ranking: 3. Edwards finished sixth at Phoenix, his 17th top-10 showing this season. He moved from sixth in the rankings after Charlotte to third in the standings following Texas. His worst Chase finish was 26th at Martinsville. Edwards placed 14th at Homestead one year ago. His 14.0 finishing average there ties him with Rusty Wallace for fourth among Chase drivers there.

No. 4 -- Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 6,313 (-102). Previous ranking: 4. Biffle finished second at Phoenix, his 20th top-10 effort this season. He has ranked in the top five after 32 of 35 races in 2005. Biffle has logged five top-10 finishes in nine Chase events; his worst Chase finish of 27th came at Talladega. Biffle has competed in three races at Homestead with one top-10 showing, a victory in this race last year. He has a 20.33 average finish at Homestead, eighth there among Chase drivers.

No. 5 -- Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 6,253 (-162). Previous ranking: 5. Martin finished 14th at Phoenix to remain fifth in the rankings. He has 18 top-10 finishes this season, including six in the nine Chase events to date. Martin has competed in six races at Homestead with three top-five efforts. His best Homestead finish (third) came in 2000. Martin placed 11th at Homestead last year. He has a 13.16 average finish at Homestead, third among Chase contestants.

No. 6 -- Ryan Newman (No. 12 Mobil 1/Alltel Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 6,208 (-207). Previous ranking: 7. Newman finished 12th at Phoenix to climb one spot in the rankings but enters Homestead 207 points behind Stewart, more than can be made up in a single race. He has 15 top-10 finishes in 2005, including five in Chase events. Newman has run three races at Homestead with one top-10 showing, a sixth in his first race there in 2002. He placed 30th at Homestead one year ago, and his 24.33 average finish there is ninth among Chase drivers.

No. 7 -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 6,187 (-228). Previous ranking: 6. Kenseth finished 32nd at Phoenix, dropping one spot in the rankings. He has five top-five Chase finishes, tying him with Martin and Stewart for the most. Kenseth has 16 top-10 finishes overall in 2005. He has competed in five races at Homestead, finishing 19th or worse in all five. Kenseth has a 30.0 average finish at Homestead, last among Chase drivers.

No. 8 -- Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge). Team: Penske Racing South. Points: 6,016 (-399). Previous ranking: 9. Wallace finished 29th at Phoenix, dropping him one position in the rankings. He has three top-10 finishes in Chase races. Wallace has competed in six races at Homestead with one top-10 finish, an eighth-place effort last year. His 14.0 average finish there ranks fourth among Chase drivers.

No. 9 -- Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 5,974 (-441). Previous ranking: 8. The reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion did not compete at Phoenix; he was suspended for the final two races of the season by Roush Racing following a citation for reckless driving Friday near the track. If Jeremy Mayfield finishes 42nd or better at Homestead, Busch will drop to 10th in the final Chase standings.

No. 10 -- Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge). Team: Evernham Motorsports. Points: 5,939 (-476). Previous ranking: 10. Mayfield placed 24th at Phoenix to remain last in the Chase standings. He has eight top-10 finishes in 2005; only one (a seventh at Dover) coming in a Chase event. Mayfield has run five races at Homestead with two top-10 finishes. He placed 35th at Homestead one year ago, his worst finish at the Florida superspeedway. Mayfield has a 17.8 average finish at Homestead, seventh among Chase contestants.

Fast Facts

Top 10 following the Checker Auto Parts 500 (Race 35 of 36):
1. Tony Stewart 6,415 pts.
2. Jimmie Johnson 6,363 (-52)
3. Carl Edwards 6,328 (-87)
4. Greg Biffle 6,313 (-102)
5. Mark Martin 6,253 (-162)
6. Ryan Newman 6,208 (-207)
7. Matt Kenseth 6,187 (-228)
8. Rusty Wallace 6,016 (-399)
9. Kurt Busch 5,974 (-441)
10. Jeremy Mayfield 5,939 (-476)