StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116120533415274.jpg’, ”, ‘Burton’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116120535615274.jpg’, ”, ‘Kenseth’);
The Nextel Cup Race to the Chase is half over. With only five races remaining, Jeff Burton has a slim 45-point lead over runner-up Matt Kenseth. Burton is in position to win his first championship and become the first driver from Richard Childress Racing to win the Cup since the late Dale Earnhardt won his last of seven titles in 1994.
It wont be easy for the veteran driver to hold on to the top position. Kenseth would like nothing more than to claim his second championship, following his first in 2003. The 45-point margin that separates the top two spots is not insurmountable. If Burton were to have any kind of trouble and finish out of the top 20, and Kenseth grabbed a top-five finish, the two drivers could easily switch positions in the standings.
Kevin Harvick sits in third place, 89 points behind Burton. He is also looking for his first championship. Another veteran driver without a championship is Mark Martin. Prior to his trouble at Lowes Motor Speedway this past weekend, Martin was third in the standings. He was only 10 points behind Burton. Following a 30th-place finish Saturday, Oct. 14, he sits in fourth, 102 points behind the leader.
The Chase moves to Martinsville, Va., Sunday, Oct. 22, for the Subway 500. Jeff Gordon is the defending champion and sits 10th in points. Depending on the outcome of Sundays race, things could get very interesting down the stretch in the pursuit of this years Nextel Cup championship. Thats exactly as NASCAR has hoped and planned.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Oct. 18-24, 2006, issue