Capsule look at the Nextel Cup Chase

Updated: October 13, 2004, 1:05 PM ET
Associated Press

A glance at the 10 drivers competing in NASCAR's Chase for the Nextel Cup, in order of points standings:

Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch
Busch
CAR: No. 97 Sharpie Ford
CHASE POINTS: first, 5,685
POSITION CHANGE: none
WHAT HAPPENED: Busch spun out at Kansas Speedway last week, but avoided hitting anything and finished sixth to extend his lead to 29 points over Dale Earnhardt Jr. He has finished in the top 10 in all four of the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship races.
SPEAKING: "Lowe's Motor Speedway is a track where we need to have another consistent run. We tested here last week during the evening in conditions that should be similar to what we see here Saturday evening, so we feel good about what we've learned,'' Busch said.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt Jr.
CAR: No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet
CHASE POINTS: second, 5,656 points
POSITION CHANGE: none
WHAT HAPPENED: Earnhardt has a tendency to struggle on flat, 1½-mile tracks such as Kansas, but still managed a ninth-place finish.
SPEAKING: "My team has worked hard and we've been in the top 10 every week in the Chase, and we're going to try to do that every week. That's what it will take to win the championship. If we finish in the top 10 every race, no matter where we end up in points, I'll be proud of my team,'' Earnhardt said.

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon
Gordon
CAR: No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
CHASE POINTS: third, 5,606
POSITION CHANGE: none
WHAT HAPPENED: Gordon had a long weekend at Kansas, qualifying 30th and finishing 13th. He trails Busch by 79 points, but hopes to gain ground Saturday night in Charlotte, where he has four victories.
SPEAKING: "There's still a lot of racing left and we're still very close. We haven't lived up to our potential in the first four races of the Chase, yet we're only 79 points behind. We know we're better than that. If we start performing like we're capable of and things start going our way, we can gain some momentum and make a run at another championship,'' Gordon said.

Elliott Sadler

Elliott Sadler
Sadler
CAR: No. 38 M&M's Ford
CHASE POINTS: fourth, 5,542
POSITION CHANGE: plus 4
WHAT HAPPENED: The biggest mover in the standings last week based on a fourth-place finish at Kansas. Still, he gained just 10 points on Busch and has a long way to go to get to the top.
SPEAKING: "We haven't changed our strategy so far this season since the playoffs began. We are here to win races and have nothing to lose. With 143 points separating us from first place we are going to have to get as many points as we possibly can but those three other guys are going to be tough,'' Sadler said.

Mark Martin

Mark Martin
Martin
CAR: No. 6 Viagra Ford
CHASE POINTS: fifth, 5,535
POSITION CHANGE: minus 1
WHAT HAPPENED: Martin got two flat tires at Kansas after running over debris and ended up 20th. He's now 150 points behind the leader, but could pick up ground at Lowe's. Martin has four wins there, including three in the fall race.
SPEAKING: "I can't wait to get out on the track at Lowe's. I think that just about everybody knows it is one of -- and just maybe -- my favorite track to race. Hopefully we'll be able get a grip on it and make a solid run at the win,'' Martin said.

Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart
Stewart
CAR: No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet
CHASE POINTS: sixth, 5,512
POSITION CHANGE: none
WHAT HAPPENED: Stewart capped a long Kansas weekend with a 14th-place finish. He was leading the Busch race when he was wrecked by Joe Nemechek, and NASCAR is looking into an alleged fight he got into with Mike Bliss after that race. Still, Stewart says he's focused on getting back into the hunt.

SPEAKING: "To be honest, there's only one guy I'm looking at and that's whoever is leading the points that week. The only number that matters is the difference between us. It doesn't matter if we're 40th in points at 150 back or second in points at 150 back, you've still got to gain those 150 points to get in the lead,'' he said.

Matt Kenseth

Matt Kenseth
Kenseth
CAR: No. 17 DeWalt Tools Ford
CHASE POINTS: seventh, 5,505
POSITION CHANGE: minus 2
WHAT HAPPENED: The reigning series champion was not very good at Kansas and finished 17th, dropping two spots in the standings. Still, he can make up ground at Lowe's, where he scored his first career Cup win back in 2000.
SPEAKING: "Lowe's has always been one of my favorite tracks on the circuit and we always seem to run pretty good here. I hope we can run up front and lead some laps here and challenge for a win. We need more than a good finish -- we need a great finish right now, but I know this team is capable of it here,'' Kenseth said.

Ryan Newman

Ryan Newman
Newman
CAR: No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge
CHASE POINTS: eighth, 5,453
POSITION CHANGE: minus 1
WHAT HAPPENED: Newman finished 33rd at Kansas and has been inconsistent in the chase. He has finishes of first, 33rd, 16th and 33rd.
SPEAKING: "It's just racing. We do the best job we can and hope everything takes care of itself points-wise. This has usually been our strong point of the season the past two years. We'll just do the best job we can and put 100 percent effort into it like we have all year and hopefully things will go our way,'' Newman said.

Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson
Johnson
CAR: No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet
CHASE POINTS: ninth, 5,438
POSITION CHANGE: none
WHAT HAPPENED: The most dominant driver for most of the season saw his title hopes ruined with a 32nd-place finish. He's now 247 points behind Busch, and will need a near-miracle to win the championship. He's now looking forward to competing in the Busch race on Friday night to forget about the Chase for a little bit.
SPEAKING: "It's going to be something fun to do Friday night. With all the intensity in the Chase for the Championship, getting to do something fun this weekend is kind of nice. Plus, as good as we tested there I think we have a decent shot of doing well,'' Johnson said.

Jeremy Mayfield

Jeremy Mayfield
Mayfield
CAR: No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
CHASE POINTS: 10th, 5,428
POSITION CHANGE: none
WHAT HAPPENED: Mayfield finished fifth at Kansas, but gained just 10 points on the leader. He's just 107 points out of fifth place, but too far out to have real hopes of winning the title.
SPEAKING: "We feel like we're chipping at the surface. We've got a long way to go yet,'' Mayfield said.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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