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Race For The Chase - An Ongoing Look at The NASCAR Nextel Cup Season

Race For The Chase - An Ongoing Look at The NASCAR Nextel Cup Season

Race For The Chase - An Ongoing Look at The NASCAR Nextel Cup Season

Six different drivers have won NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races this season, potentially earning 10 valuable bonus points for each victory. If those drivers make the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, their “seedings” entering the Chase will be determined by the number of wins they accumulated over the first 26 races of the season. Jimmie Johnson, currently with four victories, has earned a potential 40 bonus points if here were to make the Chase. Jeff Gordon has three wins for a potential bonus point total of 30.

2007 Season Highlights

• Jimmie Johnson has won four races, accumulating a potential 40 points toward his seeding, if he qualifies for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

• The Car of Tomorrow debuted, running at Bristol, Martinsville, Phoenix, Richmond and Darlington.

• Toyota made its NASCAR NEXTEL Cup debut.

• Jeff Gordon won his 77th career race, breaking a tie with Dale Earnhardt for sixth on the all-time win list. Gordon had tied Earnhardt’s mark of 76 wins the prior week in Phoenix.


• Four-time series champion, Jeff Gordon has led the points for the past seven weeks.

• At Bristol, Chevrolet posted its 600th victory.

The following pages contain reviews and analysis of various statistical data which impacts the ongoing standings and the eventual goal of making the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

Season in Review

Qualifying

• There have been five different Bud Pole winners: Jeff Gordon (five); David Gilliland, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer (one each). Qualifying was canceled due to inclement weather at Texas.

• Clint Bowyer won the Bud Pole at Darlington, his career first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup pole. There has been a first-time Bud Pole winner each season since 1987 – 21 years running.

• Ryan Newman’s pole at Atlanta ended a streak of 20 races without a pole – the longest of his career.

• Jeff Gordon leads all other drivers with nine top-10 starts this season, including eight top-fives.

First-timers

• David Ragan finished fifth in the Daytona 500, earning a top-10 ranking in the point standings for the first time in his career.

• Aric Almirola and Jon Wood both made their first career start when they qualified at Las Vegas.

• AJ Allmendinger and Regan Smith both made their first career start at Bristol.

The Races

• There have been six different race winners, led by Jimmie Johnson (four). Johnson posted back-to-back victories at Las Vegas and Atlanta and then won at Martinsville and Richmond.

• Johnson’s victory at Las Vegas was his third consecutive win there.

• Jeff Gordon (three) is the only other repeat race winner. Gordon posted back-to-back victories at Phoenix and Talladega.

• Gordon has posted 10 top-10 finishes – two more than any other driver.

• The Richmond and Darlington races were postponed to Sunday. The last time consecutive races were postponed was Martinsville and North Wilkesboro in 1992.

Laps Completed


• Only two drivers have completed every lap: Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth.

• Denny Hamlin has completed all but two laps this season.

• Mark Martin has completed every lap in the eight races he has competed.

Laps Led

• No driver has led in every race this season. Jeff Gordon and has led in 10 races.

• Jeff Gordon leads all other drivers in bonus points earned this season for leading laps with 70.

• Jeff Gordon has led 674 of the 3,653 laps – 18.45 percent of the laps raced.

Season in Review

• Six drivers have led the most laps in a race:

Jeff Gordon - 4

Tony Stewart - 2

Kurt Busch - 1

Matt Kenseth - 1

Jimmie Johnson - 1

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 1

Denny Hamlin - 1

• Only three times has the race winner led the most laps: California (Matt Kenseth), Atlanta (Jimmie Johnson) and Talladega (Jeff Gordon).

Points

• Only two drivers have ranked in the top 10 in points for every race: Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon.

• Mark Martin led the points from California through Atlanta, becoming the oldest driver to lead the points for more than a week under the current point system. Martin, who is 48, falls behind Bobby Allison (51 in 1988) and Morgan Shepherd (49 in 1990) as the third-oldest driver to lead the points. Allison and Shepherd both led the standings for just one week at that age.

• Jeff Gordon assumed the lead after Bristol.

• Kurt Busch moved into 10th in the standings with his third-place finish at Talladega, his first time in the top 10 since he finished the 2005 season in 10th place.

• Jeff Burton dropped from second to fifth at Richmond – prompting the only change in the top five in the standings since Martinsville.

• David Ragan ranked fifth in the standings for the first two weeks of the season, the highest point standings by a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate in 2007.

Turn Around

• Eight of the current top 12 in the standings finished in the final top 10 in 2006; 10 finished in the top 12.

• Jamie McMurray has made the largest gain over his 2006 final standing – gaining 13 positions from 25th to 12th.

Rookie Performance

• Juan Pablo Montoya and David Ragan are the only Raybestos Rookie of the Year contenders that have made every race.

• Three different drivers have been the highest-finishing rookie at least once this season: Juan Pablo Montoya (five), David Ragan (four) and Paul Menard (two)

• The best finish by a rookie has been fifth by David Ragan at Daytona and by Juan Pablo Montoya at Atlanta.

• All five rookies have made the field once: Richmond.

Jeff Gordon has held a point lead of over 200 points since Talladega. Prior to that, the last time the margin from first to second was over 200 points was when Tony Stewart led Greg Biffle by 209 points following race No. 25 in 2005.

Season in Review

Car Owner Points

• Sterling Marlin and the No. 14 Ginn Racing Chevrolet was the only driver in the first five races of the season that had to make the field on time and do so in all five races.

• The biggest gain in car owner points over the final 2006 standings is held by the No. 01 owned by Bobby Ginn. The No. 01 ranked 28th in the final 2006 owner point standings and is currently 22 positions ahead of that ranking.

• Only one of the teams in the current top 35 in owner points did not compete in 2006: Bobby Ginn (No. 13).

Car Owner Streaks and Sweeps

• Hendrick Motorsports won four consecutive races (Las Vegas through Martinsville). Hendrick drivers repeated the feat, winning Phoenix through Darlington. Prior to this season, the previous two times this has occurred was also by Hendrick Motorsports (September-October 1996 and July-August 1998).

• Hendrick Motorsports has swept the top two finishing positions four times in 2007. Last season, an owner posted a 1-2 finish just once (Jack Roush Racing at Dover in June). o In the 10 seasons prior to this, there were only 32 1-2 (or better) finishes by an owner – and an owner has posted four in a season only once. Roush-Fenway Racing (2005).

• Hendrick also has posted back-to-back 1-2 finishes this season (Talladega and Richmond). In the previous 10 seasons this has occurred just once. Roush did so at Bristol and Texas in 1998. Car of Tomorrow

• Three different drivers have won COT races: Jeff Gordon (two), Jimmie Johnson (two) and Kyle Busch (one).

• The combined margin of victory in the five COT races is 2.527 seconds for an average of 0.505. In the same five races in 2006 the combined MOV was 4.817 seconds for an average of 0.963 second. Manufacturer

• Chevrolet and Dodge debuted new models for the Car of Tomorrow in its inaugural race at Bristol. The new Chevrolet model was an Impala while the Dodge was an Avenger. It was the first race for the Impala model since the mid-1960s and the first ever for the Avenger.

• Chevrolet got its 600th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory with Kyle Busch’s win at Bristol. Busch’s victory was the first for the Chevrolet Impala since Wendell Scott won at Jacksonville (Florida) Speedway Park on Dec. 1, 1963.

Blazing Start

• Chevrolet has won 10 of the first 11 races this season, the best start to a season for a manufacturer since Chevrolet won the first seven races in 1995.

o Ford notched nine consecutive wins in 1992, the longest streak to start a season ever.

o Ford won 33 of the first 34 races of the 55-race 1965 season. Mercury won the second race of the season that year. 

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