Chase for the Sprint Cup driver capsules - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Chase for the Sprint Cup driver capsules

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Posted: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 4:55 pm | Updated: 1:14 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A glance at the 12 drivers competing in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship heading into this weekend’s race at Phoenix International Raceway (in order of points):

Jimmie Johnson

CHASE POINTS: first, 6,297

CAR: No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet

TEAM: Hendrick Motorsports

POSITION CHANGE: None

CAREER PHOENIX STARTS: 12

AVERAGE PHOENIX FINISH: 5.4 (won three times)

LAST WEEK: Johnson’s charmed run through the Chase came to an abrupt end when he got tangled up with Sam Hornish Jr. three laps in at Texas, missed over 100 laps and then drove a car apparently built by somebody’s shop class to a 38th-place finish. Still has a firm grip on fourth straight title.

CHASE CHATTER: “All along we’ve been trying to tell everybody this thing is far from over, what our mindset has been,” Johnson said. “Luckily we’ve raced for every point throughout this Chase. We still have a decent points lead right now.”

Mark Martin

CHASE POINTS: second, -73

CAR: No. 5 Carquest/Kellogg’s Chevrolet

TEAM: Hendrick Motorsports

POSITION CHANGE: None

CAREER PHOENIX STARTS: 25

AVERAGE PHOENIX FINISH: 9.0 (won twice)

LAST WEEK: Got the break he needed when Johnson found trouble and took advantage with a strong fourth-place finish at Texas. His hopes are flickering, but he’s heading back to a track where he won in the spring.

CHASE CHATTER: “(The car) wasn’t very good the first half and then magically midway the car became a top-five car,” Martin said.

Jeff Gordon

CHASE POINTS: third, -112

CAR: No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet

TEAM: Hendrick Motorsports

POSITION CHANGE: None

CAREER PHOENIX STARTS: 21

AVERAGE PHOENIX FINISH: 10.9 (won in 2007)

LAST WEEK: Squeezed out a 13th-place finish at Texas, but knows he probably needed a top-five to have any realistic shot at catching Johnson.

CHASE CHATTER: “I am just really disappointed in this day,” Gordon said. “A total missed opportunity that completely got away from us. We just didn’t have it today.”

Kurt Busch

CHASE POINTS: fourth, -171

CAR: No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge

TEAM: Penske Racing

POSITION CHANGE: Plus 2

CAREER PHOENIX STARTS: 13

AVERAGE PHOENIX FINISH: 12.5 (won in 2005)

LAST WEEK: Stalked younger brother Kyle for much of the day at Texas before stretching his fuel enough to capture his second win of the season and give departing crew chief Pat Tryson a nice parting gift.

CHASE CHATTER: “It’s bittersweet because, hey, Pat is leaving,” Busch said. “We wish that we could stick together. We want to get the best we can out of these last few races.”

Tony Stewart

CHASE POINTS: fifth, -178

CAR: No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet

TEAM: Stewart/Haas Racing

POSITION CHANGE: None

CAREER PHOENIX STARTS: 15

AVERAGE PHOENIX FINISH: 10.1 (won in 1999)

LAST WEEK: Smoke picked up his 23rd top-10 finish of the year with a sixth-place finish at Texas

CHASE CHATTER: “I thought team-wise we had an awesome day working together and making gains at it,” Stewart said. “We never said, ‘Well, we just can’t get it any better.’ We kept throwing things at it to try to make it better.”

Juan Pablo Montoya

CHASE POINTS: sixth, -236

CAR: No. 42 Target Chevrolet

TEAM: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

POSITION CHANGE: Minus 2

CAREER PHOENIX STARTS: 5

AVERAGE PHOENIX FINISH: 21.4 (best 16th in 2008)

LAST WEEK: Had a chance to make a push at Texas only to lose it on lap 174 and collect fellow Chaser Carl Edwards in a crash that sent both to the garage. He finished 37th and gained just three points on Johnson.

CHASE CHATTER: “This week we didn’t have the car we wanted, but we were getting better and better as the day went on,” Montoya said. “It kinda (stinks), but things like this happen.”

Greg Biffle

CHASE POINTS: seventh, -247

CAR: No. 16 3M Scotch Brand Ford

TEAM: Roush Fenway Racing

POSITION CHANGE: None

CAREER PHOENIX STARTS: 11

AVERAGE PHOENIX FINISH: 14.9 (best 2nd, twice)

LAST WEEK: Put together a quiet eighth-place finish at Texas for his fourth top-10 of the Chase.

CHASE CHATTER: “We had a good run today, but we weren’t as good as we were here in the spring,” Biffle said. “We were just a little off.”

Denny Hamlin

CHASE POINTS: eighth, -322

CAR: No. 11 FedEx Toyota

TEAM: Joe Gibbs Racing

POSITION CHANGE: Plus 3

CAREER PHOENIX STARTS: 8

AVERAGE PHOENIX FINISH: 10.4 (best 3rd, three times)

LAST WEEK: Bounced back from a horrible week at Talladega to finish second at Texas thanks to a little fuel-sipping at the end.

CHASE CHATTER: “Played out in our favor, for sure,” Hamlin said. “Usually these fuel-mileage races don’t go our way. Obviously we gained some spots today on the fuel-mileage thing.”

Ryan Newman

CHASE POINTS: ninth, -324

CAR: No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet

TEAM: Stewart/Haas Racing

POSITION CHANGE: Minus 1

CAREER PHOENIX STARTS: 14

AVERAGE PHOENIX FINISH: 22.9 (best 2nd in 2004)

LAST WEEK: The good news? He didn’t have to be extracted from his car after a 12th-place finish at Texas. The bad news? His ill-handling car didn’t make him a factor.

CHASE CHATTER: “I was sore all weekend, but it was good to be back in the race car,” said Newman, who had to be cut from his car after a harrowing crash at Talladega.

Kasey Kahne

CHASE POINTS: 10th, -399

CAR: No. 9 Budweiser Dodge

TEAM: Richard Petty Motorsports

POSITION CHANGE: Minus 1

CAREER PHOENIX STARTS: 10

AVERAGE PHOENIX FINISH: 19.5 (best 5th in 2004)

LAST WEEK: Looked good early at Texas before his car developed engine trouble late in the race and he faded to 33rd.

CHASE CHATTER: “The guys did a good job of making adjustments,” Kahne said. “We just couldn’t tighten it up enough to get out front and then we had an engine issue at the end.”

Carl Edwards

CHASE POINTS: 11th, -440

CAR: No. 99 Aflac Ford

TEAM: Roush Fenway Racing

POSITION CHANGE: Minus 1

CAREER PHOENIX STARTS: 10

AVERAGE PHOENIX FINISH: 13.0 (best 4th, three times)

LAST WEEK: Is the season over yet? Edwards got mixed up with Montoya to extend his winless season.

CHASE CHATTER: “His car must have been really loose and it just snapped on him,” Edwards said. “It looked like he needed another couple inches and it wasn’t there, but that’s racing.”

Brian Vickers

CHASE POINTS: 12th, -520

CAR: No. 83 Red Bull Toyota

TEAM: Red Bull Racing

POSITION CHANGE: None

CAREER PHOENIX STARTS: 10

AVERAGE PHOENIX FINISH: 19.3 (best 5th in 2005)

LAST WEEK: Vickers struggled most of the day at Texas and actually spent most of the day running behind teammate Scott Speed before finishing 26th.

CHASE CHATTER: “When I put rear brake into the car, it started acting like it was supposed to. I can’t explain it,” Vickers said.

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