Glance at 12 drivers in the Chase Print
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Wednesday, 15 September 2010 06:05
NASCAR Headline News

 A glance at the 12 drivers competing in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship heading into this weekend's race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (in order of points):
DRIVER: Denny Hamlin
CHASE POINTS: first, 5,060 points
CAR: No. 11 FedEx Toyota
TEAM: Joe Gibbs Racing
POSITION CHANGE (after points reset): Plus 9
CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 9
BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (Summer, 2007)
LAST WEEK: The preseason pick to end Jimmie Johnson's run propelled himself into the Chase with another victory on his home track in Richmond. His midsummer slump appears to be long gone.
CHASE CHATTER: ``I've never felt like I could just win anywhere I went, until this year,'' Hamlin said. ``And especially at this point now, the confidence level is pretty high.''

DRIVER: Jimmie Johnson
CHASE POINTS: second, 5,050 points
CAR: No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet
TEAM: Hendrick Motorsports
POSITION CHANGE: Plus 5
CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 17
BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (three times)
LAST WEEK: The four-time defending champion has himself in perfect stalking position entering the Chase. He finished third at Richmond and is heading into a portion of the schedule he has owned since 2006.
CHASE CHATTER: ``I'm not concerned about what people think of my race team and where I'm at and what kind of threat we are for the championship,'' Johnson said. ``I'm just more concerned about going out and getting the job done.''

DRIVER: Kevin Harvick
CHASE POINTS: third, 5,030 points
CAR: No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet
TEAM: Richard Childress Racing
POSITION CHANGE: Minus 2
CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 19
BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (Fall, 2006)
LAST WEEK: ``Happy'' finished ninth in Richmond and had to abandon his perch atop the standings when the drivers were re-seeded for the Chase. His three regular-season wins trailed both Hamlin and Johnson.
CHASE CHATTER: ``I think it's the most competitive that we have ever been as far as speed and the things that you need to race for wins,'' Harvick said. ``In order to win the championship, I feel you're going to have to finish in the top five a lot and you're going to have to win a race or two to make that happen.''

DRIVER: Kyle Busch
CHASE POINTS: fourth, 5,030 points
CAR: No. 18 M&Ms Toyota
TEAM: Joe Gibbs Racing
POSITION CHANGE: Minus 1
CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 11
BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (Summer, 2006)
LAST WEEK: Ran second behind Hamlin in Richmond and heads into the Chase without the pressure of being the favorite as he was two years ago after dominating the regular season. He slumped to dead last.
CHASE CHATTER: ``We have a good shot at it and I can't discount us one bit,'' Busch said. ``I'm hoping we can run strong and hard and chase these guys down.''

DRIVER: Kurt Busch
CHASE POINTS: fifth, 5,020 points
CAR: No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge
TEAM: Penske Racing
POSITION CHANGE: Plus 3
CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 19
BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (three times)
LAST WEEK: Limped into the Chase with an 18th-place finish at Richmond, but moved up to fifth in points behind his two victories earlier this year. Was strong in the spring and early summer, but has cooled of late.
CHASE CHATTER: ``We have to really just bare down and get after it these next 10 weeks, not make mistakes and not take ourselves out of contention by doing some things that would stretch ourselves thin,'' Busch said.

DRIVER: Tony Stewart
CHASE POINTS: sixth, 5,010 points
CAR: No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet
TEAM: Stewart/Haas Racing
POSITION CHANGE: Minus 2
CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 23
BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (twice)
LAST WEEK: Smoke's recent hot streak ended at Richmond, where he finished 16th. His patented late-summer surge, however, has the 2005 champion in solid shape heading into a stretch of tracks he has thrived on.
CHASE CHATTER: ``You're going to have to be good for 10 straight weeks,'' Stewart said. ``You don't have that flexibility with this field to have an off night.''

DRIVER: Greg Biffle
CHASE POINTS: seventh, 5,010 points
CAR: No. 16 3M Ford
TEAM: Roush Fenway Racing
POSITION CHANGE: Plus 4
CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 16
BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (Fall, 2008)
LAST WEEK: Ran into trouble in Richmond, where his 32nd-place finish didn't exactly stamp him as a true Chase contender.
CHASE CHATTER: ``You are going to have to capitalize at the places you're good at and try and survive the other ones,'' he said. ``We have probably seven or eight good racetracks in the Chase for us.''

DRIVER: Jeff Gordon
CHASE POINTS: eighth, 5,000 points
CAR: No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
TEAM: Hendrick Motorsports
POSITION CHANGE: Minus 6
CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 31
BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (three times)
LAST WEEK: The original ``four-time'' champion hasn't won a race in seemingly forever, but has been steady all the way through. Still, will likely need to reach Victory Lane at least once during the Chase to capture that elusive fifth title.
CHASE CHATTER: ``We can't just go be consistent,'' Gordon said. ``That's not going to win the championship for us unless we are consistently second.''

DRIVER: Carl Edwards
CHASE POINTS: ninth, 5,000 points
CAR: No. 99 Aflac Ford
TEAM: Roush Fenway Racing
POSITION CHANGE: Minus 4
CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 12
BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 2nd (Summer, 2006)
LAST WEEK: Picked up a 10th-place finish at Richmond but will need to make major improvements if he wants to recapture his red-hot 2008 season when he narrowly missed knocking off Johnson for the championship.
CHASE CHATTER: ``Everyone would agree that it's anyone's race more than ever this year,'' Edwards said. ``It looks like advantages are smaller and they last a shorter period of time.''

DRIVER: Jeff Burton
CHASE POINTS: 10th, 5,000 points
CAR: No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet
TEAM: Richard Childress Racing
POSITION CHANGE: Minus 4
CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 31
BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (four times)
LAST WEEK: The veteran and perennial Chase qualifier cruised into the playoffs with a 13th-place finish at Richmond and remained one of only two Chase drivers who made it through the regular season without a DNF.
CHASE CHATTER: ``It's important, for sure, to be able to be running at the end of all the races, but that alone is not going to win the championship,'' Burton said.

DRIVER: Matt Kenseth
CHASE POINTS: 11th, 5,000 points
CAR: No. 17 Crown Royal Ford
TEAM: Roush Fenway Racing
POSITION CHANGE: Minus 2
CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 21
BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 2nd (Fall, 2004)
LAST WEEK: Protected his spot in the Chase with a 14th-place finish at Richmond. Needs a major step up in performance to be taken seriously over the next two months.
CHASE CHATTER: ``If we do all the right things at the track and get up there, hopefully we can contend with (the leaders),'' Kenseth said.

DRIVER: Clint Bowyer
CHASE POINTS: 12th, 5,000 points
CAR: No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
TEAM: Richard Childress Racing
POSITION CHANGE: None.
CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 9
BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (Fall, 2007)
LAST WEEK: Joined teammates Burton and Harvick in the Chase by running sixth in Richmond.
CHASE CHATTER: ``The last month has been really good for us,'' Bowyer said. ``We've had a lot of good runs. I'm excited. I'm excited to carry on, ride that wave.''
 

NASCAR Odds

Driver Odds
Sprint Cup - Odds to Win Top 3 Camping World RV Sales 301 @ New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Jimmie Johnson #48 +125
Denny Hamlin #11 +175
Jeff Gordon #24 +175
Kevin Harvick #4 +200
Kyle Busch #18 +250
More NASCAR odds

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