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Virtual Pit Reporter: News on top 25 Cup teams

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1) Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Ford, Roush Racing
  • This week: The hottest driver entering the Chase is Kenseth, who started to get hot at midsummer and then, using consistency, finished the 26-race lead-in to the Chase as the point leader. Kenseth has won at California, Dover, Michigan (second race) and Bristol this season. He led Jimmie Johnson at the conclusion of the Race to the Chase by 57 points but begins the Chase with a five-point lead over Johnson now that the standings have been readjusted under NASCAR's system. Kenseth has eight top-10 finishes and a 10.923 finishing average at New Hampshire but has led in just three of his 13 races there. He finished third in this race one year ago and 14th there in July. "For us it's going to stay business as usual," Kenseth said. "We've stayed focused this year on one race at a time, and that's how it's going to stay this week and for the nine after that. Everyone seems to be putting a lot of pressure on this weekend, and I don't necessarily see it. I mean, yes, you want to start the Chase with a good finish, but if you don't, you still have nine more to make up for it. Kurt (Busch) finished 42nd at Atlanta and still won the championship in 2004. If you get hot and start reeling off top-five finishes, you can make up a lot of ground in a hurry."
  • Last week: Kenseth's eighth-place finish at Richmond assured him of being the point leader entering the Chase. It was his 16th top-10 finish in 2006.
  • Etc.: Among the 10 "Chase tracks," New Hampshire is Kenseth's best in average start, 16.9, and average finish, 10.9. It also was the site of Kenseth's best Chase finish, a second place in 2004.

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    2) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Johnson was the point leader after all but four of the 26 races in 2006. This marks the third straight year that he has competed in the Chase, making him just one of three drivers to do so, and he will finish in the top 10 for the fifth straight season. One year ago he began the Chase fourth in the point standings. He finished fifth in the point standings last year and second in 2004. Johnson joins Hendrick teammates Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon in the Chase, giving car owner Rick Hendrick the most eligible drivers of any car owner. Johnson has scored 18 top-10 finishes in 26 races this season, two more than point leader Matt Kenseth, who has 16. Johnson has four victories in 2006 (Daytona, Las Vegas, Talladega and Indianapolis) and has scored a series-best 22 top-15s in the first 26 races. Johnson has two wins and five top-10 finishes in nine races at New Hampshire. "It is here and it is going to be exciting," Johnson said. "There are 10 really great teams, 10 great drivers. I am just focused on that 10-car battle. I have a great race team. I couldn't be more proud of what they have done all year. We have been well prepared and really shown a lot of strength. If you look at this team's month of August, this has been by far our best August. I know we haven't been winning races or leading a lot of laps, but as I look back we are a heck of a lot better than we were in past years and are a much better race team. We are smarter than we were and a stronger race team. These final 10 races are a totally different animal than the first 26. It is time to get out there and go after it."
  • Last week: Johnson limped into the Chase with a 23rd-place finish at Richmond, but with the points reset in five-point increments, he begins the Chase five points out of the lead.
  • Etc.: Johnson's team will take chassis No. 48278 to New Hampshire as the primary car this weekend. It finished 10th there in July. Chassis No. 48264 will serve as the backup. It last raced at Pocono in July 2005. ... Johnson has completed all 2,615 laps in his nine starts at NHIS. He has an average starting position and finishing position of 8.7 -- the best of all drivers with multiple starts. He has led 73 laps in three of his nine races. Johnson has posted top-15 finishes in all nine of his starts at NHIS. That's more than any other driver.

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    3) Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
  • This week: This marks Harvick's first year in the Chase and the first time Richard Childress has had a driver in the Chase since the program's inception in 2004. Harvick, one of five "first-timers" to compete in the Chase, has ranked among the top 10 in the last 20 races, since Texas in April. One year ago he ranked 14th in the point standings after 26 races. Harvick has scored 14 top-10 finishes in 2006 and is 10-for-10 in top-15 finishes in his last 10 races. He has been running at the finish in the last 38 races, the longest current streak. He has six top-10s in 11 races at New Hampshire and finished 10th in this race one year ago and fifth there in July. He has led in six of his 11 races at New Hampshire and has a 13.727 average finish there.
  • Last week: Harvick scored a sweep of both the Busch and Nextel Cup series races at Richmond. He has a huge lead in the Busch Series point race.
  • Etc.: Harvick is third among all Closers with a total of 36 positions gained over the final 10 percent of 2006 events. Harvick's Average Running Position of 13.055 is fifth best among all drivers. That is the sum of driver position on each lap divided by the laps run in the race.

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    4) Kyle Busch, No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: One year ago, Busch ranked 19th, 361 points out of the lead. This time, he's 15 points behind first-place Matt Kenseth as he embarks on his first year in the Chase. Busch has 15 top-10 finishes in 26 races in 2006, has 11 top-15s in the last 12 races and has been running at the finish in the last 14 races. Busch has two top-five finishes, including one win, in his three races at New Hampshire. He finished 27th in this race one year ago and first there in July. He has led in just one his three races there, leading 107 laps en route to his July victory. His average finish there is 10.66.
  • Last week: Busch finished second at Richmond to move up to fourth for the start of the Chase. "It's definitely exciting to be not only in the Chase, but to have the kind of run that we did tonight," Busch said. "The Chevrolet was very strong, led a lot of laps there. Knowing how Kevin Harvick felt in the spring race, leading so many laps and wasn't able to come away with a win, just shows these guys keep preparing great race cars for me and I'm excited to drive them."
  • Etc.: Busch's Driver Rating of 107.7 at New Hampshire is third among all drivers. He trails second-place Denny Hamlin by a mere .01.

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    5) Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Chevrolet, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • This week: Hamlin is the first rookie-of-the-tear contender to make the Chase since the format's inception in 2004. Carl Edwards competed in the Chase in 2005 but was not considered a rookie because he competed in 13 races in 2004. Hamlin has ranked among the top 10 in the last 20 races, since Texas in April. He has scored two victories in 2006 (both races at Pocono) and has nine straight top-15 finishes and 13 top-10s in 2006, more than any other rookie. Hamlin, who was sixth at New Hampshire in July in his only Nextel Cup start there, has been the highest finishing rookie in 13 of the 26 races this season. He ended a streak of finishing on the lead lap in the last 16 races by finishing one lap down at Richmond. He has been running at the finish in the last 20 races.
  • Last week: Hamlin won the pole and finished 15th at Richmond. "To win the pole here was a big deal," he said. "That was really big. It's amazing that we're in this place right now. Now we've got a clean slate, and hopefully we can go for this championship."
  • Etc.: Hamlin is second in Driver Rating at New Hampshire with a 107.8.

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    6) Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Inc.
  • This week: Earnhardt arrives at New Hampshire sixth in the standings. He finished the "regular season" with one win (Richmond), eight top-fives, 12 top-10s and 18 top-15 finishes. He has led in 12 races for 209 laps this year and has finished sixth or better in four of the last six races. Out of the 10 "Chase" tracks, Earnhardt has won races at six of the venues (a combined total of 11 victories). In the first-ever Chase in 2004, the team won two of the 10 Chase races, at Talladega and Phoenix. He has three top-fives, six top-10s and has led in five of his 14 races at New Hampshire. "It'd be nice to get a little redemption at New Hampshire this week," Earnhardt said. "We always run pretty good there but never have enough to get a win. Last time we were there we were pretty decent, definitely a top-10 car, but the motor blew up. I feel like if we can get everything working together, we can end up in Victory Lane." He'll be driving the same car he used at Richmond, with a new right-rear quarterpanel, left-front fender and bumper cover, and he said the brake problem he had at Richmond has been solved.
  • Last week: Earnhardt's 17th-place finish at Richmond earned him a spot in the Chase. He missed the 10-race playoff last year. "Yeah, now we can replace it with the pressure of winning a championship," Earnhardt said. "I want to win a championship bad, and being in the Chase is the first big step in doing that." Etc: Earnhardt has an 18.857 finishing average at New Hampshire, worst among the Chase drivers.

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    7) Mark Martin, No. 6 Ford, Roush Racing
  • This week: Martin, who has been running at the finish in the last 33 races, has 13 top-10 finishes in 23 races at New Hampshire and has led in seven of them. He finished seventh in this race one year ago and fourth there in July, and his average finish there is 10.956. "Loudon can be a tough track," Martin said. "It's really hard to pass there, and if your car isn't handling well it can make for a really bad day. We've struggled there in the past, but we had a really good run there in the spring and we ran pretty good there last year, so we are hoping that we can expand on that and move into the Chase with a solid finish and hopefully putting the right foot forward."
  • Last week: Martin's fifth-place finish at Richmond locked him into the Chase for the third straight year. "We are excited about moving into the Chase and I'm excited that we made it," Martin said. "The team really stepped up to the plate last weekend at Richmond. When the pressure was really on, they came through and we were able to go out and do exactly what we had to do. Nobody on this team gives up, and I plan to go out and have a lot of fun in these last 10 races, and we are confident that we can surprise some people and put it all together and make a run for this championship."
  • Etc.: The team will run RK-221, which finished fifth last week at Richmond and fourth at Loudon in July. It posted a dominating performance early this year at Phoenix and is the car Martin used to win the All-Star Challenge in 2005.

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    8) Jeff Burton, No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
  • This week: Burton trailed point leader Matt Kenseth by 463 points at the conclusion of the Race to the Chase but begins the Chase 35 points behind Kenseth. Burton, who has 21 top-15 and 15 top-10 finishes in 26 races this season, ranked 21st in the point standings after 26 races last year. He has four victories (the most of any driver) and has led in nine of his 23 races at New Hampshire. His last New Hampshire victory came in September 2000. He finished ninth in this race one year ago and seventh there in July, extending a streak of five straight top-15 finishes there. Burton has a 13.478 average finish at New Hampshire.
  • Last week: Burton was able to make the Chase for the first time in his career with a ninth-place finish at Richmond. "Well, I'm relieved, for sure," he said. "Today was a long day. The last two weeks have been pretty long. Glad to have this behind us. Now it's time to, you know, get focused and go again. I mean, the next 10 weeks will be pretty pressure-filled all week, but I'm looking forward to it, excited about it. I think we need to step it up just a little bit. I've got to do a better job of explaining what the car is doing so we can make the car better during the race. But I feel good, we're in, we've done a nice job."
  • Etc.: Burton has completed 5,678 laps within the top 15 positions in 2006 for second place in that category.

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    9) Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Following last year's absence from the Chase, Gordon hopes to celebrate the end of the 2006 season with a fifth championship. The only other Chase participant this year who has won a championship is Matt Kenseth, but both drivers won under the old, season-long points structure, not the new 10-race Chase instituted by NASCAR in 2004. "Under the old system, you were battling three or four guys at this point in the season," said Gordon. "The key was to be consistent down the stretch. The Chase has changed everything. Now you're dealing with 10 guys and you have to push every week, every race. I don't think our four championships under the old system is an advantage. I'm in the same position as the other nine drivers -- trying to win my first championship under this format." He has three wins, three poles, nine top-fives and 12 top-10s in 23 career starts at New Hampshire but has not finished better than 14th in his last three races there. "This has been a good track for us in the past, but we didn't run well here in July," said Gordon. "It's all about getting started on a high note, so we'll try a completely different setup package this weekend in an effort to turn it around."
  • Last week: Gordon was 31st at Richmond. "Right now, I'm happy that Richmond isn't included in the Chase," said Gordon. "I do like the tracks that are in the Chase, and I like how this team is performing. I would have preferred to enter the Chase after a strong run in Richmond, but the important thing is we're in."
  • Etc.: Gordon has run 92.3 percent (6,855) of his laps this season on the lead lap for third in that category.

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    10) Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge, Evernham Motorsports
  • This week: This marks Kahne's first year in the Chase and the third straight year that Evernham Motorsports has had a driver in the Chase since the format's inception in 2004 (Jeremy Mayfield was 10th in 2004 and ninth in 2005). Kahne has five victories in 2006, more than any other driver, and has 16 top-15 finishes and 14 top-10s. One year ago he ranked 20th in the point standings after 26 races. Kahne has four top-10 finishes in five races at New Hampshire but finished 38th in this race one year ago, his only Did Not Finish at Loudon. He finished eighth there in July. He has led in two of his five races at New Hampshire and has a 12.8 average finish there.
  • Last week: Kahne's third-place finish at Richmond allowed him to gain that vital extra position in the standings that made him the 10th and final entrant in the Chase, by just 16 points over 11th-place Tony Stewart. "Richmond will always be a special track for me. I won my first Cup race here and I made my first Chase here, so Richmond has been real good to me," Kahne said. "I'm very surprised that Tony Stewart didn't make it in. I never would have thought he would be the one not to make it in. I couldn't have won tonight, but we easily had a top-three car all night."
  • Etc.: Kahne is fourth for Miles Led in 2006 with a total of 824.16

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    11) Tony Stewart, No. 20 Chevrolet, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • This week: Stewart, who has two wins and eight top-five finishes at New Hampshire, said he doesn't consider himself as a spoiler in this year's Chase. "We're going to go out and worry about ourselves," said Stewart. "We're going to do our best to race hard as we can and race hard around the guys that are in the Chase, but at the same time, try to win races."
  • Last week: Stewart will not have a chance to defend his Nextel Cup championship after failing to make this year's Chase for the Championship. Stewart finished 18th at Richmond to fall to 11th in the standings. "It takes 26 weeks to get to this point," said Stewart. "We just missed it tonight. We couldn't get it to turn in the center, and all we did was make it loose in and on the exit. This is proof of how tough it is to just make this Chase. It's a big letdown, obviously, but at the same time, there's 10 guys that earned their way in there, too."
  • Etc.: Stewart points out that he knows what it means when the other competitors give the 10 guys in the Chase a "little space. I know how much it meant to me that all of the other competitors were careful around us when we were trying to win our championship last year. We're going to be as courteous as they would be."

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    12) Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Racing
  • This week: Biffle has posted three straight top-five finishes at New Hampshire, the longest current streak. He'll be driving the same he drove to third place in July. "I feel confident with this car," he said. "We're out of the Chase, but we'll do everything we can to finish 11th and get a couple of wins before the end of the season."
  • Last week: Biffle finished sixth at Richmond for his 12th top-10 finish of the season. "We wanted a top-five, but my car fell off quicker than I wanted it to in the long runs," said Biffle. "I just did the best I could. I was really fast on the short runs but just lost a spot coming to the line with Mark (Martin). But it was a good run for us."
  • Etc.: Biffle began the year as one of the drivers expected to contend for the 2006 Nextel Cup championship. But after failing to make the Chase, he noted, "It's a pretty humbling sport. There are some big guys that didn't make it (this year)."

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    13) Carl Edwards, No. 99 Ford, Roush Racing
  • This week: Edwards finished second in the July event at New Hampshire. "We didn't make the Chase, which was disappointing, but we still have a chance to race for wins and for 11th place during the next 10 races," said Edwards. "I want to make the most of that opportunity, and I know the entire No. 99 Office Depot team is going to give their all."
  • Last week: The evening began with a bang when Edwards and Jimmie Johnson tangled on lap 80, both cars bouncing off the wall. The damage to Edwards' car was severe enough that he spent the rest of the race just trying to finish. "We just gutted it out at the end," Edwards said after finishing 35th. "My guys deserve better, and I'll do my best to make this up to them."
  • Etc.: Edwards won't be in the Chase, but he will be commenting on this year's version -- he will join veteran Steve Byrnes on the weekly Thursday night program "The Chase Is On" on SPEED. Edwards admits, "There won't be a single one of these shows that won't be painful to me. But maybe this show will be good therapy. I might even learn something (for 2007)."

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    14) Kurt Busch, No. 2 Dodge, Penske Racing South
  • This week: Busch's record at New Hampshire includes two wins, four top-five finishes and five top-10s in 11 races. He swept the two events in 2004 en route to the Nextel Cup championship. Busch also won a Craftsman Truck Series race at NHIS in 2000. "We have 10 races remaining to get back on track and hopefully get back to Victory Lane," said Busch.
  • Last week: Busch admitted that "it was really embarrassing there for a while" at Richmond as he finished 27th. "I guess the only good thing to say is that when we finally hit rock bottom during the race, it couldn't get worse and we actually got the car to respond to changes we were making," Busch said.
  • Etc.: Busch admits he made a "pretty big spectacle of myself" at New Hampshire in 2005 by getting involved in a wreck with Scott Riggs. After getting out of his mangled car, Busch briskly made his way to Riggs' pit and discussed the situation with crew chief Rodney Childers. Busch said "that would never happen today, I guarantee that."

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    15) Casey Mears, No. 42 Dodge, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
  • This week: Mears has not had much luck at New Hampshire. In seven starts at the one-mile speedway, his best finish is 16th, and that came in his first Cup event at the track. In his last five races at NHIS, Mears has finished 21st or worse. "We got our best finish ever at Richmond (Saturday night), and we believe we can do the same at Loudon," said Mears.
  • Last week: Mears finished 11th at Richmond, his best career finish at the Virginia facility. "That was by far the best race I've run at Richmond," said Mears. "Donnie (Wingo, crew chief) made a heck of a call to keep me on the lead lap with about 150 laps remaining in the race."
  • Etc.: Mears said he has to "thank all the guys that work on our short-track program; these are the best cars we've ever had." This weekend, he will be racing the same car that he drove to an 11th-place finish Saturday night at Richmond.

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    16) Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
  • This week: Bowyer said he is "looking forward to the last 10 races (of the year). I think we're on a roll. We've ran really well all year, but we haven't been able to get the finishes we deserve on a regular basis like we needed to. But we were running up front when that stuff (bad luck) happened, so that builds confidence."
  • Last week: Bowyer was the highest-finishing rookie for the sixth time in 2006 as he ended up 12th at Richmond to move to 16th in the standings. "It was a good night for the Jack Daniel's Chevrolet," said Bowyer. "It was a little too loose there at the end, but overall it was a good night. We struggled a little bit early on (with) being able to get to the gas soon enough to be able to run with them up off the corner."
  • Etc.: Bowyer has been named to drive the No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado in the New Hampshire 200 for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He also will drive the truck on Nov. 3 at Texas Motor Speedway. "I ran the truck race at Martinsville and had a blast running with those guys," said Bowyer. "I can't wait to do it again."

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    17) Ryan Newman, No. 12 Dodge, Penske Racing South
  • This week: Newman has won two races at New Hampshire, including his first Cup win on Sept. 15, 2002. He is the defending race champion of the Sylvania 300. "New Hampshire is a good track for this team," said Newman. "We've had success there in the past, and we won this same race last year. With all the struggles this team has had this year we could really use a win, and everyone believes this track definitely gives us a good shot at doing that this year."
  • Last week: Newman battled an ill-handling race car for most of the evening at Richmond but was able to salvage a 20th-place finish on a night when the car "was just not right." Despite falling to 17th in the standings, Newman still believes he has a shot at finishing 11th and earning the million-dollar bonus that goes to that driver.
  • Etc.: Newman has won four of the last eight pole positions at New Hampshire. His four Bud Poles at the track are the most of any driver. Qualifying was rained out in two of those eight races. He won the pole in July.

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    18) Scott Riggs, No. 10 Dodge, Evernham Motorsports
  • This week: Riggs finished 10th in the July event at New Hampshire, his first top-10 finish in five starts at the one-mile track. Riggs is confident that a second consecutive top-10 run is a realistic goal this weekend. "Our short-track program has really improved," said Riggs.
  • Last week: After rallying for a 10th-place finish at Richmond, Riggs was all smiles. "This was an awesome night for Evernham Motorsports," said Riggs. "Kasey (Kahne) made the Chase and we came home with another top-10. Our Dodge struggled early on and at one point we fell out of the top 30. But these guys on the Valvoline Evernham racing team fought back, gave me great pit stops and made the right adjustments. It was a good night all the way around."
  • Etc.: Riggs has moved up to 18th in the point standings and is only 92 points out of the top 15. A top-15 finish after missing the Daytona 500 would be a major achievement for Riggs and his team.

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    19) Jamie McMurray, No. 26 Ford, Roush Racing
  • This week: In seven starts at New Hampshire, McMurray has scored three top-10 finishes, including a fifth in the fall of 2004. "I really feel like I have something to prove this weekend at New Hampshire," said McMurray. "Over the last few weeks we haven't been able to produce a finish we are proud of. Needless to say, we are looking forward to a better run this weekend."
  • Last week: After finishing a disappointing 25th at Richmond, McMurray admitted he was surprised by how much the team struggled during the evening. "In practice on Friday, the car was great. I really felt like we would have a solid night, but that didn't happen," said McMurray. "The car reacted much differently in traffic tonight than it did during practice. It was tight all night; I felt like I was sliding right through the corners."
  • Etc.: "Brakes are very, very important at New Hampshire, as we found out the last time we visited the track," said crew chief Bob Osborne. "We started losing our brakes after only 35 laps the last time. This time, I think we have a better handle on the brakes and how to make them last the entire race."

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    20) Brian Vickers, No. 25 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Vickers is still looking for his first top-10 finish at New Hampshire. In five starts there, his best finish is 11th. But Vickers has led in the last three races at NHIS, and he is convinced a top-10 run is a real possibility this weekend.
  • Last week: Vickers finished 24th at Richmond. "We were too loose early on, and once we fixed that we worked the rest of the night to help the car turn better in the center (of the corners)," said Vickers. "We tried a bunch of different adjustments, but none of them seemed to work that well."
  • Etc.: Vickers is part owner of the Hollywood Fame, a new American Basketball Association franchise slated to tip off its season at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in November.

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    21) Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Dodge, Evernham Motorsports
  • This week: New Hampshire has not been one of Sadler's better tracks -- he has only three top-10 finishes in his 15 starts there. His best finish is eighth on two occasions. Sadler said he is surprised by how well he has run since moving to Evernham Motorsports. "To come out of the box and run as well as we have so far, it's been absolutely amazing," said Sadler.
  • Last week: It was an up-and-down night for Sadler, but he rallied during the final 100 laps to finish 16th. He was happy to see teammate Kasey Kahne qualify for the Chase, however. "I think he can win it all," said Sadler. "And we'll do everything we can to help his team."
  • Etc.: On the Thursday before the Richmond race, the Sadler Fan Club Barn Party raised more than $30,000 for the Elliott and Hermie Sadler Foundation. The Sadler Fan Club also believes the one-day gathering consumed a state-record number of bologna burgers -- 1,100.

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    22) Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Dodge, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
  • This week: Sorenson is eagerly looking forward to this weekend. "We were a legitimate contender for the win in the last New Hampshire race," said Sorenson, who had to pit for fuel with three laps to go in July while running third. He led 31 laps in the event. "We're taking the same car, and I expect to be equally as good, if not better, than we were the first time at New Hampshire."
  • Last week: Sorenson finished 14th at Richmond. "It was a long night," said the rookie driver. "We got a lap down there twice and got the lucky dog (twice), so that helped a bunch. We just made a bunch of adjustments. The car was so loose. We made some adjustments to tighten it up, and it got a lot better."
  • Etc.: A rookie has finished in the top 10 in three of the last four races at New Hampshire, including a win by Ryan Newman in 2002. Sorenson firmly believes he can make it four out of five this weekend.

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    23) Martin Truex Jr., No. 1 Chevrolet, DEI
  • This week: In his first Cup start at New Hampshire, Truex finished 18th. He believes a top-10 run is a possibility this weekend. "It's just one of those tracks that I adapted to real easily," said Truex. "For some reason, my driving style agrees with the track nicely, as shown by our 2005 Busch win."
  • Last week: After qualifying seventh at Richmond, Truex had high hopes of contending for the win. Instead, he has a trouble-filled evening. On the first pit stop, Truex made contact with Travis Kvapil as he was leaving pit road. Then on lap 110, Truex had to make an unscheduled pit stop because of a flat right-front tire. Then he was penalized for speeding on pit road. As a result, Truex finished 40th.
  • Etc.: Truex won three races and two poles in the Busch East division at New Hampshire. And his dad won a race and a pole at NHIS. "This weekend, I'd really like to get the Bud Pole Award and qualify for the Bud Shootout," said Truex, Jr. "That would be cool for all of us (in the family), especially at New Hampshire with our past success at the track."

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    24) Dale Jarrett, No. 88 Ford, Robert Yates Racing
  • This week: Jarrett has one win, seven top-fives and a series-high 14 top-10 finishes in 23 races at New Hampshire. He said his goals for the rest of the season are "what they've been all year, and that's to try to get this team back to where it's competing in a respectable fashion."
  • Last week: Jarrett finished 21st at Richmond. "The car was really pretty awesome there during that middle run (from laps 262 to 320)," said Jarrett. "We just were so behind as far as track position. It's encouraging, though, because we were pretty bad there for a stretch and we actually improved the car, so that is definitely something positive for this team."
  • Etc.: Jarrett said "just because it didn't work out that we were part of the Chase, I think it's an opportunity to show what you've made of and what your team is made of. You want to keep working and trying to get better until that last lap is finished at Homestead."

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    25) Bobby Labonte, No. 43 Dodge, Petty Enterprises
  • This week: Labonte has competed in all 23 Cup races run at New Hampshire. He has five top-five finishes, including a second in the fall race in 2000 and a third in the July event a year ago. Labonte has nine top-10 finishes at the one-mile track. "Winning a race is still our main goal for the rest of the season, and we feel we can accomplish that mission," said Labonte.
  • Last week: After finishing 22nd at Richmond, Labonte said, "We needed to be better at the end. We just couldn't find the right setup tonight that we needed. The guys worked hard and kept digging. But we just never got the car where we needed."
  • Etc.: Robbie Loomis, executive vice president of race operations at Petty Enterprises, announced on Monday that Billy Wilburn has been hired to be crew chief of the No. 45 Dodge of Kyle Petty and that Paul Andrews will has been moved to the 43 car. "I think Bill coming in and switching Paul to the Cheerios team is exactly the type of move that is going to energize Petty Enterprises for the remainder of this season and for 2007," said Loomis.

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    Tagged: Kurt Busch, Kyle Petty, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Scott Riggs, Reed Sorenson, Dale Jarrett, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Casey Mears, Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart, Travis Kvapil

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