The following is a rundown of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 heading into Sunday's AMD at The Glen, the sixth event in the "Race to the Chase," the 10 events prefacing the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."
The AMD at The Glen (1 p.m. EDT on NBC) is the 22nd of 36 races on the series' schedule. The first 26 races of the season will determine the drivers involved in the third annual Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup contested over the final 10 races. Drivers who are in the top 10 or within 400 points of the standings' leader after those 26 races will vie for the 2006 series title in the "Chase."
No. 1 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 3,124. Johnson rallied from early trouble to win at Indianapolis, his fourth victory of 2006. He has also won at Daytona, Las Vegas and Talladega. Johnson has a series-leading 17 top-10 finishes this season. He has been among the top 10 for 90 consecutive races, since March 2004. Johnson has two top-10 finishes in four races at Watkins Glen, both top fives. Johnson, who finished fifth in this race last year, has a 16.25 average Watkins Glen finish. He has led in two races on the 2.45-mile road course, but has yet to win a non-oval course event. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Johnson is ranked second in Driver Rating (102.6).
No. 2 - Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford). Team: Roush Racing. Points: 3,017. Kenseth finished second at Indianapolis to retain his spot in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings for the 10th consecutive race. He has ranked in the top five since the season's second race, a victory at California. Kenseth was 15th in the standings at this point last season. He has three top-10 finishes in six races at Watkins Glen; his best finish (eighth) came in 2003. Kenseth, who has been running at the finish of all his starts at the New York track, placed 18th in this race last year. He has a 16.833 average Watkins Glen finish. He has never won or logged a top-five finish on a road course. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Kenseth is ranked second in Average Running Position (11.153).
No. 3 - Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 2,749. Burton finished 15th at Indianapolis to remain third in the standings. He has 13 top-10 finishes this season. Burton was 18th in the standings at this point last year. He has three top-10 finishes in 12 races at Watkins Glen; two were top fives. Burton finished 43rd in this race a year ago, his second DNF at Watkins Glen. He has a 20.583 Watkins Glen average finish. Although he has yet to win on a road course, Burton has seven top-10 finishes in 23 road course events. His best Watkins Glen effort was a second in 2001. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Burton is ranked fourth in Closers (33).
No. 4 - Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet). Team: Richard Childress Racing. Points: 2,733. Harvick finished third at Indianapolis, his 13th top-10 showing in 2006. He has three top-10 finishes in five races at Watkins Glen, but finished 15th in this race a year ago, his worst showing. Harvick has led one lap in five races at Watkins Glen, where he has a 9.4 average finish, third best among active drivers. His best road course finish (third) came at Infineon Raceway in 2003. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Harvick is ranked fifth in Closers (31).
No. 5 - Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kelloggs Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 2,733. Busch finished seventh at Indianapolis, his 11th top-10 effort this season. He was 20th in the standings at this point in 2005. Busch has just one DNF this year, an accident at Lowe's Motor Speedway. He has competed in one race at Watkins Glen, finishing 33rd last year. Busch has yet to lead or log a top-10 finish in three road-course events. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Busch is ranked seventh in Average Running Position (13.661).
No. 6 - Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford). Team:
Roush Racing. Points: 2,712. Martin finished fifth at Indianapolis, his 14th top-10 effort in 2006. He has had only one DNF (at Talladega in October 2005, due to an accident) in the 46 events since Dover in June 2005. Martin has three victories in 18 races at Watkins Glen; his most recent triumph there came in 1995. He has a 6.22 average Watkins Glen finish, tops among active drivers. Martin has led in six of his 18 Watkins Glen races. He has four victories and 32 top-10 finishes in 40 career road course races. He has an 8.15 average finish on road courses, the best among active drivers with more than 10 road course starts. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Martin is ranked eighth in Driver Rating (93.5).
No. 7 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 2,648. Hamlin finished 10th at Indianapolis, his ninth top-10 showing this season. He has been the highest-finishing rookie in 11 of 21 races this season. Hamlin won the NASCAR Busch Series road course race in Mexico earlier this year. He finished 12th at Infineon Raceway, his first major-league road course event. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Hamlin is ranked third in Fastest Drivers Early in a Run (8.158).
No. 8 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Points: 2,627. Gordon finished 16th at Indianapolis to climb one spot in the standings. His four DNFs in 2006 are the most of the drivers in the top 10. Gordon has four victories and seven top-10s in 13 races at Watkins Glen; his most recent victory came in 2001. He finished 14th in this race last year. Gordon has nine road course victories, an all-time NASCAR record. He has 17 top-10 finishes in 27 road course races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Gordon is fifth in Mile Leaders (585.01).
No. 9 - Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Points: 2,619. Stewart finished eighth at Indianapolis, to advance one spot in the standings. He has three victories and five top-10 finishes in seven races at Watkins Glen; his most recent triumph there came last year and was his third victory in his last four races there. He has led in three of his seven Watkins Glen races, winning all three. Stewart has a 7.428 average finish at Watkins Glen, second to Mark Martin. He has five victories and nine top-10 finishes in 15 career road course races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Stewart is ranked fourth in Driver Rating (98.1).
No. 10 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). Team: Dale Earnhardt Inc. Points: 2,612. Earnhardt finished sixth at Indianapolis to once again crack the top 10. He has three top-10 finishes in six races at Watkins Glen; he placed 10th there last year, his third consecutive top-10 effort. He has been running at the finish in all but two of his six Watkins Glen races, in which he has a 17.5 average finish. He has three top-10 finishes (all at Watkins Glen) in 13 career road course races. Season-to-date Loop Data highlight: Earnhardt is ranked fifth in Quality Passes (1,074).
Top 10 following Indianapolis (race 21 of 36):
1. Jimmie Johnson 3,124 (pts)
2. Matt Kenseth 3,017 (-107)
3. Jeff Burton 2,749 (-375)
4. Kevin Harvick 2,733 (-391)
5. Kyle Busch 2,733 (-391)
6. Mark Martin 2,712 (-412)
7. Denny Hamlin* 2,648 (-476)
8. Jeff Gordon 2,627 (-497)
9. Tony Stewart 2,619 (-505)
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,612 (-512)
Weeks at No. 1: Johnson (13).
New arrival this week in the Top 10: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dropped out of the Top 10: Kasey Kahne
Closing in on the Top 10:
11. Kasey Kahne 2,575
12. Greg Biffle 2,497
13. Kurt Busch 2,438
14. Carl Edwards 2,380
15. Casey Mears 2,279
* Denotes Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.