Glance at 12 drivers in the Chase

2009-09-17T00:00:00Z Glance at 12 drivers in the ChaseThe Associated Press The Associated Press
September 17, 2009 12:00 am  • 

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: Mark Martin

CHASE POINTS: first, 5,040 points

CAR: No. 5 Carquest/Kellogg's Chevrolet

TEAM: Hendrick Motorsports

POSITION CHANGE: Plus 9

CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 25

BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 2nd (twice)

LAST WEEK: Finally locked up a Chase berth with a fourth-place finish at Richmond. Now racing's Grand Old Man finds himself atop the standings heading into the 10-race sprint to the finish as he searches for his first Cup title.

CHASE CHATTER: "So now we go racing," Martin said. "Pressure is off though. Pressure is off. It won't build back up until late — maybe four to go or something. Right now the pressure is off."

___

DRIVER: Tony Stewart

CHASE POINTS: second, -10

CAR: No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet

TEAM: Stewart/Haas Racing

POSITION CHANGE: Minus 1

CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 21

BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (twice)

LAST WEEK: Smoke cruised into the Chase with a ho-hum 17th-place finish in Richmond, meaning he'll start second in the Chase instead of first because he finished behind Mark Martin in number of wins despite leading in points most of the season.

CHASE CHATTER: "None of us on our team and none of us at (Ryan Newman's) team or anybody at Stewart-Haas know the meaning of quit," Stewart said. "So we are excited about 10 great weeks coming up."

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DRIVER: Jimmie Johnson

CHASE POINTS: second, -10

CAR: No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet

TEAM: Hendrick Motorsports

POSITION CHANGE: None.

CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 15

BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (twice)

LAST WEEK: The three-time defending champion played it safe at Richmond, finishing 11th. He's been dominant in the Chase during his title run and has to be considered the odds-on favorite to make racing history.

CHASE CHATTER: "All in all it's good," Johnson said. "I really wanted to get 10 more points and give all the Lowe's employee/owners something to cheer for, but we'll have to save that for the Chase and get to work."

___

DRIVER: Denny Hamlin

CHASE POINTS: fourth, -20

CAR: No. 11 FedEx Toyota

TEAM: Joe Gibbs Racing

POSITION CHANGE: None.

CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 7

BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (2007)

LAST WEEK: Comes into the Chase with some momentum after picking up a victory at Richmond. May benefit during the Chase from the fact teammate Kyle Busch didn't make the top 12. Busch has pledged to do everything to help the No. 11 win the title.

CHASE CHATTER: "Now we're for real," Hamlin said. "It just shows how strong our race team is. Over the last 12 weeks we've just been extremely strong and excited about the Chase."

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DRIVER: Kasey Kahne

CHASE POINTS: fifth, -20

CAR: No. 9 Budweiser Dodge

TEAM: Richard Petty Motorsports

POSITION CHANGE: Plus 1.

CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 11

BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 4th

LAST WEEK: Qualified for the Chase for the second time in his career with a 12th-place finish at Richmond. Basically played defense most of the night.

CHASE CHATTER: "The competition is so close right now," Kahne said. "If you have one bad race during these last 10 races you are going to lose a lot of ground to the other drivers because the competition is that tight."

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DRIVER: Jeff Gordon

CHASE POINTS: sixth, -30

CAR: No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet

TEAM: Hendrick Motorsports

POSITION CHANGE: Minus 4

CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 29

BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (three times)

LAST WEEK: Finished third in Richmond after a thrilling duel much of the night with Denny Hamlin. Has arguably been the most consistent Hendrick driver all season, and that might be what it takes for him to win his fifth Cup title.

CHASE CHATTER: "I think we have a great shot at it," Gordon said. "I know we've got some points to make up but I think this team is really capable and ready to do that."

___

DRIVER: Kurt Busch

CHASE POINTS: seventh, -30

CAR: No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge

TEAM: Penske Racing

POSITION CHANGE: None.

CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 17

BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (three times)

LAST WEEK: Busch roared into the Chase with a second-place finish at Richmond. His win at New Hampshire during the first Chase in 2004 helped propel him to his only series title.

CHASE CHATTER: "All I can say is that I know from experience that if you can get it going in the right direction at Loudon, you can keep the momentum growing and sort of build some insurance for something bad happening later on during the 10-race stretch," Busch said.

___

DRIVER: Brian Vickers

CHASE POINTS: eighth, -30

CAR: No. 83 Red Bull Toyota

TEAM: Red Bull Racing

POSITION CHANGE: Plus 4

CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 10

BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 5th

LAST WEEK: Drove the wheels off his No. 83 Toyota to finish seventh at Richmond and edge Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth for the 12th and final spot in the Chase. Moved up to eighth on the strength of his win at Michigan.

CHASE CHATTER: "Two-and-a-half years ago we started this program and we never would have believed that we would have been this far along six poles, a win and now we're in the Chase," Vickers said.

___

DRIVER: Carl Edwards

CHASE POINTS: ninth, -40

CAR: No. 99 Aflac Ford

TEAM: Roush Fenway Racing

POSITION CHANGE: Minus 4

CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 10

BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 2nd

LAST WEEK: Remained winless on the season but qualified for the Chase with a 15th-place finish at Richmond. Will need to pick it up if last year's runner-up wants to make a serious bid for his first Cup title.

CHASE CHATTER: "We haven't lit the world on fire, but trust me, in 10 races a lot can happen and I've just got to bank on that and just go do the best I can," Edwards said.

___

DRIVER: Ryan Newman

CHASE POINTS: 10th, -40

CAR: No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet

TEAM: Stewart/Haas Racing

POSITION CHANGE: Minus 1

CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 15

BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (twice)

LAST WEEK: Secured a spot in the Chase with a 10th-place finish at Richmond to cap a roller-coaster regular season.

CHASE CHATTER: "It's a dream come true," he said. "To think back to Daytona going through basically three race cars and make it to Richmond here and be in this position, it says a lot about the hard work that ... everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing have put into this effort."

___

DRIVER: Juan Pablo Montoya

CHASE POINTS: 11th, -40

CAR: No. 42 Target Chevrolet

TEAM: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

POSITION CHANGE: Minus 3.

CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 5

BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 12th

LAST WEEK: Became the first international driver to make the Chase when he managed a 19th-place finish at Richmond. Lack of experience and success at some of the Chase tracks likely make him a long shot for the title.

CHASE CHATTER: "We did what we had to do to get in the Chase," Montoya said. "I think for me being back with Target and Chip, to put them in the Chase is huge. It's nice. It's what we needed."

___

DRIVER: Greg Biffle

CHASE POINTS: 12th, -40

CAR: No. 16 3M Scotch Brand Ford

TEAM: Roush Fenway Racing

POSITION CHANGE: Minus 1

CAREER NEW HAMPSHIRE STARTS: 14

BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE FINISH: 1st (2008)

LAST WEEK: Hung on to 13th place at Richmond thanks to some great work in the pits and heads to New Hampshire looking for a repeat of last year, when he won the first two races in the Chase.

CHASE CHATTER: "We started off the Chase last year as a miracle Chase; I won the first two events, so, hopefully, we can mirror that or get a couple top-fives or something," Biffle said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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