Capsule look at the Nextel Cup Chase

Updated: November 10, 2004, 6:03 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, 6,191
POSITION CHANGE: none
WHAT HAPPENED: Busch almost ran out of gas before he was able to pit at Phoenix, and his car stalled as he tried to get off the service road. He then lost even more ground when a caution came out. Still, he battled to a 10th place finish and held onto his lead in the standings.
SPEAKING: "With our hiccups out of the way, it's now a fresh slate for these final two races because now it just seems like we've got less and less competitors to look at and less and less competitors to beat out on the race track,'' Busch said.

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon
Gordon
CAR: No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
CHASE POINTS: Second, 6,150
POSITION CHANGE: Plus 1
WHAT HAPPENED: Gordon gained 31 points on the leader by finishing third. He trails Busch by 41 as he heads into the Southern 500 at Darlington -- a race Gordon has won three times.
SPEAKING: "We're second in the points with only two races left, so we need to be aggressive. The pressure will keep building and it will become more intense,'' Gordon said.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt Jr.
CAR: No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet
CHASE POINTS: Third, 6,144 points
POSITION CHANGE: Plus 2
WHAT HAPPENED: Earnhardt won in Phoenix to pull within 47 points of Busch. Before getting out of his car in Victory Lane, crew chief Tony Eury reminded him to watch his language. Earnhardt, remember, lost 25 this season for cursing in a Victory Lane interview.
SPEAKING: "For us, there is no strategy. We've given back so many points we should have right now that we can't even worry about it anymore. It's done. It's past. Get over it. We just have to lead the most laps and win each race. If we win the Cup, cool. If we don't, I know we'll still be proud of the season we've had,'' Earnhardt said.

Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson
Johnson
CAR: No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet
CHASE POINTS: Fourth, 6,143
POSITION CHANGE: Minus 2
WHAT HAPPENED: Johnson gained 11 points on Busch but is still 48 points out of first place. He slipped two spots in the standings after finishing sixth.
SPEAKING: "I'm absolutely shocked that I'm back in the middle of this points race. Winning races has put us back in that situation, plus some bad luck on other guys part,'' Johnson said.

Mark Martin

Mark Martin
Martin
CAR: No. 6 Viagra Ford
CHASE POINTS: Fifth, 6,089
POSITION CHANGE: Minus 1
WHAT HAPPENED: Martin called the Chase a tale of lost opportunities after finishing 15th in Phoenix and falling 102 points behind the leader.
SPEAKING: "We've been a lot better over the last 10 races than our finishes show. We've had good cars, but we've had trouble getting to where we need to be, so hopefully we can close the season out with a couple of really strong efforts,'' Martin said.

Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart
Stewart
CAR: No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet
CHASE POINTS: Sixth, 6,049
POSITION CHANGE: none
WHAT HAPPENED: Stewart finished eighth. He's 142 points behind Busch.

SPEAKING: "It's not the kind of finish that we wanted, but that's why we've been champions in the past. We expect more out of ourselves,'' said Stewart, the 2002 series champion.

Ryan Newman

Ryan Newman
Newman
CAR: No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge
CHASE POINTS: Seventh, 6,036
POSITION CHANGE: None
WHAT HAPPENED: Newman started from the pole, lost a lap during a green flag pit stop, but battled back to finish second.
SPEAKING: "I've always said the last two years as long as were not mathematically out of it count us in. We're going to be there to win the race at Darlington and Homestead and lead the most laps and try to get as many points as possible just like everybody else. It's just a matter of what team can do it,'' Newman said.

Elliott Sadler

Elliott Sadler
Sadler
CAR: No. 38 M&M's Ford
CHASE POINTS: Eighth, 5,869
POSITION CHANGE: None
WHAT HAPPENED: Sadler wrecked because of a flat tire and finished 38th. He's looking forward to Darlington, and hoping to get another victory before the season ends.
SPEAKING: "I really want to win one (at Darlington) because that means I would have beaten the best. To win at Darlington says a lot,'' Sadler said.

Matt Kenseth

Matt Kenseth
Kenseth
CAR: No. 17 DeWalt Tools Ford
CHASE POINTS: Ninth, 5,855
POSITION CHANGE: None
WHAT HAPPENED: Kenseth blew his engine just after the halfway point of the race and finished 36th.
SPEAKING: "I think as a team, we went out and had a great day last week, even though we didn't get the finish. The guys performed great all day long on the stops and I was satisfied with how the car responded to our changes,'' crew chief Robbie Reiser said.

Jeremy Mayfield

Jeremy Mayfield
Mayfield
CAR: No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
CHASE POINTS: 10th, 5,836
POSITION CHANGE: None
WHAT HAPPENED: Mayfield managed to finish 21st but set his sights on Darlington, one of his favorite racetracks.
SPEAKING: "I can't wait for Darlington. That's my favorite track. I can't wait to get there. I used a lot of luck up at Richmond, but we're going to Darlington and we should do well there,'' Mayfield said.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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