Top-10 Includes Many Talladega Heavyweights

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The 10 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup contenders locked in a week ago at Richmond includes the most Talladega heavyweights since the inception of the new championship format, promising an added level of intensity to the competition to come in the Oct. 8 UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, fourth in the final 10 races of the season. Three of the drivers already have two or more wins to their credit here at NASCAR's Most Competitive Track, including five-time winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (seventh in standings), four-time winner Jeff Gordon (fourth in standings) and two-time winner Mark Martin (sixth in standings). Ninth in standings is Jimmie Johnson, the winner of the 2006 Aaron's 499. And while Kevin Harvick (first in standings) and Jeff Burton (fifth in standings) have yet to claim victory at the 2.66-mile tri-oval, their strong records here combined with the fact they drive for the track¿s most successful team owner Richard Childress cannot be dismissed. While Matt Kenseth (third in standings) hasn¿t traditionally been among the strongest drivers at Talladega, his last two finishes here - sixth in the spring and third last fall - make him also a force to consider. Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and rookie Denny Hamlin are all still searching for a top-10 here in NASCAR¿s top series, however Hamlin and Busch have both posted top-5¿s here in other series. Yet another factor to consider will be whether a driver from outside the top-10 will end up in Gatorade Victory Lane at Talladega next month, as was the case last year when Dale Jarrett took the checkered flag in the 2005 UAW-Ford 500. Perhaps the strongest threat from outside the top-10 all season long will be 2005 Champion Tony Stewart, but especially at Talladega. Stewart has posted six second place finishes here in the last 11 races, knocking loudly on the door of an elusive win here since that first runner-up finish in spring 2001. Here¿s a more detailed analysis of the current points leaders, including their past performance at Talladega Superspeedway:


Standing Driver Points Car Team Points Position at this time in 2005 Points Finish 2005 TSS Stats 2005 UAW-Ford 500 Finish 2006 Aaron's 499 Finish
1 Kevin Harvick 5230 No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Richard Childress Racing  13th  14th Starts: 11 10th  23rd
Wins: 0
Poles: 1
Top 5¿s: 3
Top 10¿s: 5
Average Finish: 14.4 
2 Denny Hamlin 5195 No. 11 FedEx Express Chevrolet  Joe Gibbs Racing  NA  41st Starts: 1 NA  22nd
Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Top 5¿s: 0
Top 10¿s: 0
Average Finish: 22 
3 >Matt Kenseth 5189 No. 17 DeWalt Power Tools Ford Roush Racing  5th 7th Starts: 13 3rd 6th
Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Top 5¿s: 2
Top 10¿s: 5
Average Finish: 16.4
4 Jeff Gordon 5180 No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet  Hendrick Motorsports  12th  11th Starts: 27 37th  15th
Wins: 4
Poles: 0
Top 5¿s: 11
Top 10¿s: 14
Average Finish: 15.1 
5 Jeff Burton 5166 No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet Richard Childress Racing  19th 18th Starts: 25 35th  4th
Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Top 5¿s: 2
Top 10¿s: 10
Average Finish: 17.6 
6 Mark Martin 5155 No. 6 Viagra Ford  Roush Racing  7th  4th Starts: 41 41st  35th
Wins: 2
Poles: 2
Top 5¿s: 10
Top 10¿s: 21
Average Finish: 15.7 
7 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 5149 No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Dale Earnhardt, Inc.  15th  19th Starts: 13 40th  31st
Wins: 5
Poles: 0
Top 5¿s: 7
Top 10¿s: 8
Average Finish: 12.2 
8 Kasey Kahne 5120 No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge  Evernham Motorsports  22nd  23rd Starts: 5 13th  39th
Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Top 5¿s: 0
Top 10¿s: 0
Average Finish:

26.6

 
9 Jimmie Johnson 5091 No. 48 Lowe¿s Chevrolet  Hendrick Motorsports  6th 5th Starts: 9 31st  1st
Wins: 1
Poles: 2
Top 5¿s: 2
Top 10¿s: 3
Average Finish: 20.7 
10 Kyle Busch 5084 No. 5 Kellogg¿s Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports  20th  20th Starts: 3 33rd  32nd
Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Top 5¿s: 0
Top 10¿s: 0
Average Finish: 35.3 


The excitement is sure to grow as the series makes its way to what nearly all drivers refer to as the 'Wild Card¿ in the final 10 races ¿ the Sunday, Oct. 8 UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, and tickets are still available to see it first-hand. Sunday¿s race will consist of the final 188 laps in a weekend packed with 1,000 miles of racing, including the Food World 250 ARCA RE/MAX Series race on Friday, Oct. 6, followed by the track¿s inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday, Oct. 7. Kids age 11 and younger are admitted free of charge on Friday and Saturday of race weekends in the general admission grandstands at Talladega Superspeedway. To order tickets, call 1-877-Go2-DEGA (1-877-462-3342). For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). Tickets also are available online at www.racetickets.com, or in person by visiting the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office from 8 a.m. ¿ 5 p.m. CDT, Monday - Friday.

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