There is now only one race 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.
NASCAR veteran Mark Martin tumbled in the standings with a less than stellar performance at Bristol. Martin, who appeared to be in good position, dropped from fourth to 10th in just one race. He is now 90 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne, who will be looking to race his way into The Chase between now and the checkered flag at Richmond International Raceway. Dale Earnhardt Jr. moved up one spot to ninth, just two points ahead of Martin. Tony Stewart dropped three spots to eighth and is only seven points in front of Martin (97 ahead of Kahne). After falling to ninth last week, Virginia native Jeff Burton fought his way back to seventh.
Denny Hamlin moved from eighth to sixth, putting him in better position, but he is still only 111 points in front of Kahne. Even Hamlin isn't safe¿yet. Jeff Gordon moved up one spot to sixth, Kyle Busch jumped up to fourth, Kevin Harvick stayed in third, Matt Kenseth maintained second and Jimmie Johnson controls first.
Realistically, Kahne has a great chance to overtake 10th in the point standings. Martin has competed many times at Richmond International Raceway, but he hasn't scored a top-10 finish since 2004. Meanwhile, Kahne recorded his first career win in 2005 at Richmond and finished off the year with an eighth-place finish in September 2005.
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.