There are now just five races left before the 26th race of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season¿the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway¿set for Saturday, September 9. Every driver in and around the top 10 will be looking to America's Premier Short Track, as it will be the final opportunity to earn a berth in The Chase. It certainly is not too early to take a look at which drivers are on solid ground and which drivers have a long hill to climb to make it into or near the top 10.
Leading up to the Chevy Rock & Roll 400, rir.com will take a look at who is moving in, out, or near the coveted top 10.
One week ago, Tony Stewart was on the outside looking in. This week, following his fourth top-10 finish, "Smoke" is back in 10th place¿but only 15 points ahead of 11th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chesterfield, Virginia native Denny Hamlin won again at Pocono and vaulted from 12th to eighth¿just one point behind Kasey Kahne. Along with Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle dropped out of the top 10.
Kurt Busch had a going showing last weekend and is now in 13th¿166 points out of 10th. Carl Edwards is in 14th¿255 points out of 10th. With only six races to go before The Chase, these drivers outside the top 10 will need to turn it on. The points battle is extremely tight all the way from fourth to 14th.
Remember, only the top 10 drivers in the point standings and any other drivers within 400 points of the leader will earn a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. The Chevy Rock & Roll 400 is the last race on the schedule before the drivers have their totals reset in five point drops. Those drivers will then battle it out over the last 10 events to determine the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion.
The September race weekend at Richmond International Raceway¿which is undoubtedly one of the top spots on the schedule¿includes a great doubleheader, which begins Friday, September 8 with the Emerson Radio 250 NASCAR Busch Series race, along with FasMart Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. The Chevy Rock & Roll 400 will run ¿under the lights¿ Saturday, September 9, setting the field for the 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. For more information, please call 1-866-455-7223 or visit www.rir.com.