Commentary

Five drivers to watch: Sylvania 300

Five drivers to watch: Sylvania 300

Updated: September 16, 2007, 1:18 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

LOUDON, N.H. -- The Chase field is set and only 60 points separate Jimmie Johnson in first from Clint Bowyer in 12th.

With that in mind, here are five drivers worth watching this weekend:

Jimmie Johnson

1. Jimmie Johnson
Points, position in standings: 5,060, 1st
Starting position: 4th
Average Loudon finish: 11.1
Outlook: Why not? He enters the Chase with consecutive victories, so his team is on a roll. He got off to a slow start to the Chase a year ago with a 39th-place finish, but that was his only finish outside the top 15 in 11 career New Hampshire starts. He swept both races in 2004.


Kurt Busch

2. Kurt Busch
Points, position in standings: 5,020, T-4th
Starting position: 3rd
Average Loudon finish: 16.6
Outlook: He dominated this track from 2002-2005 with two wins and a pair of second-place results. He enters the Chase with as much momentum as anybody outside of Johnson with two wins and no finish worse than 11th in the past nine races. He's starting third, so you know he's fast.


Martin Truex Jr.

3. Martin Truex Jr.
Points, position in standings: 5,010, T-6th
Starting position: 2nd
Average Loudon finish: 14.3
Outlook: He finished third in the first race here and had a chance to win until a late pit stop. He's finished no worse than 15th the past five races with three finishes of sixth or better. And he seems awfully relaxed with a nothing-to-lose attitude.


Dale Earnhardt Jr.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Points, position in standings: 2,954, 13th
Starting position: 19th
Average Loudon finish: 17.6
Outlook: Much of the focus has been on recent engine woes and what number he'll drive in 2008. He's not in the Chase, but don't forget he was running in the top 10 before the engines blew and he has a good history at NHIS with six finishes of sixth or better in the last nine races there.


Jeff Gordon

5. Jeff Gordon
Points, position in standings: 5,040, 2nd
Starting position: 18th
Average Loudon finish: 12.0
Outlook: OK, you're wondering how pole sitter Clint Bowyer was left out and Gordon -- starting 18th -- is in. Easy. Gordon's won here three times and was second and third in the past two events. Bowyer has finished 24th or worse in three starts here.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

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