Chase for the Nextel Cup standings begins - first step Martinsville Speedway

Posted on by 0

Five races and the 2007 Nextel Cup Series is over. Four drivers are competing for the first place in the Drivers Championship. From now one they will treat every race like the last one of the championship. They are willing to fight until the last lap, until the last drop of fuel, and their team mates can represent an important advantage.

The four drivers that are fighting for the title are: Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Tony Stewart.

Jeff Gordon

Chase for the Nextel Cup standings begins - first step Martinsville Speedway

Driver Details

Sponsor: DuPont
Manufacturer: Chevrolet
Car Owner: Rick Hendrick
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Crew Chief: Steve Letarte

Jeff Gordon, born in Vallejo, Calif. on Aug. 4, 1971, has a real shot at a fifth Cup title. After the last race held at Lowe’s Motor Speedway he’s the leader with 5880 points.

Gordon’s four championships have been won with two crew chiefs, three with Ray Evernham and one with Robbie Loomis. His current crew chief, Steve Letarte, took over for the final 10 races of 2005 and led Gordon to two wins and a sixth-place finish in the points last year. "I like the way the guys rally around him and believe in him," Gordon said about his crew chief.

Jeff Gordon hasn’t won a title since 2001 so I believe he is really motivated for the next five races. And maybe he will have the same luck like in the last race.

Chase for the Nextel Cup standings begins - first step Martinsville Speedway


Gordon’s performance:

Races

Wins

Top 5

Top 10

Season

6

19

25

Career

81

232

312

@ Martinsville Speedway

7

17

23

@ Short Track

15

45

64

Jimmie Johnson

Chase for the Nextel Cup standings begins - first step Martinsville Speedway

Driver Details

Sponsor: Lowe’s
Manufacturer: Chevrolet
Car Owner: Jeff Gordon
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Crew Chief: Chad Knaus

Jimmie Johnson, born in El Cajon, Calif. on Sept. 17, 1975, is now on the second place with 68 points behind the leader. He is also the most important threat for Gordon, and also his team mate. Things are going very well for him. He has six more victories than Gordon, and if it hadn’t been for the spin at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, I think that he would have seven victories more than his team mate.

Johnson will try to defend his first title won last year after he was 156 points behind before the final six races when he succeeded five consecutive finishes of first or second during the season’s final six races.

Chase for the Nextel Cup standings begins - first step Martinsville Speedway


Johnson’s performance:

Races

Wins

Top 5

Top 10

Season

6

16

19

Career

29

82

129

@ Martinsville Speedway

3

7

10

@ Short Track

5

12

19

Clint Bowyer

Chase for the Nextel Cup standings begins - first step Martinsville Speedway

Driver Details

Sponsor: Jack Daniel’s
Manufacturer: Chevrolet
Car Owner: Richard Childress
Team: Richard Childress Racing
Crew Chief: Gil Martin

Clint Bowyer, born in Emporia, Kan, on May 30, 1979, is 78 points behind the leader and he has a real chance of winning the title. Bowyer, who finished 17th in points in his rookie season last year declared: "This is only our second year together and we’re running up front and doing what we’re paid to do. We’ve won a race; we’re running for a championship ... It’s been an awesome year so far. We have five races to go and we have to keep this momentum strong and keep everybody with a pep in their step and stay energized." Those 78 points could be a difficult mountain to climb but Bowyer can do it if he really wants’ to.

Chase for the Nextel Cup standings begins - first step Martinsville Speedway


Bowyer performance:

Races

Wins

Top 5

Top 10

Season

1

5

15

Career

1

9

26

@ Martinsville Speedway

0

0

0

@ Short Track

0

1

4

Tony Stewart

Chase for the Nextel Cup standings begins - first step Martinsville Speedway

Driver Details

Sponsor: The Home Depot
Manufacturer: Chevrolet
Car Owner: Joe Gibbs
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
Crew Chief: Greg Zipadelli

Stewart, born in Columbus, Ind. on May 20, 1971, is the fourth candidate for the title with 198 points behind the leader. He’s an experienced driver that will race anyone, anywhere, anytime, and in any type of machine, so those 198 points that keep him from the title are not such a big problem for him.

Chase for the Nextel Cup standings begins - first step Martinsville Speedway


Stewart performance:

Races

Wins

Top 5

Top 10

Season

3

10

22

Career

32

118

190

@ Martinsville Speedway

2

6

10

@ Short Track

6

17

28

Team orders can be an important factor in winning the NASCAR Title, but they are more common in other forms of motorsports, particularly Formula One. I’m sure that you remember the Formula One races when a driver lets his team mate to pass him to accumulate more championship points, so I’m not going to talk about this.

In NASCAR team orders seep in 2004 when the playoff system was implemented. Team owners were more willing to ask drivers not in the title hunt to give up positions to help teammates who are than before. Every time when a driver is slowing to let a teammate lead a lap for five bonus points, or lets him pick up a position, or performs a block so another Chase contender can’t pick up a spot, a team order is behind it.

Regarding team orders Tony Stewart declared: "I don’t really like that aspect of it, but there’s nothing you can do about it. It is much more of an impact, especially with the fields being as tight as they are now. You want the guy that wins the championship to earn it, not have a teammate give them those points."

Series director John Darby said there’s little NASCAR can do to police teammates’ giving up positions: "It’s pretty hard to prove," so NASCAR is more concerned with teammates’ blocking or intentionally running another driver into the corner to create an advantage than with a driver that lets his team mate to pass him because he has a better chance at the title.

Chase for the Nextel Cup standings begins - first step Martinsville Speedway


But team orders don’t always have to include giving up track position. In the final laps at LMS, for example, Hendrick told Kyle Busch not to wreck Gordon in an attempt to pass for the win. He told Gordon the same thing earlier this year at Martinsville when Gordon did everything but put Johnson into the wall trying to pass for the win.

Those types of orders anyone can approve especially the driver that is in danger, but the orders that tell the driver to let his team mate pass ruin the beautiful and exciting NASCAR races. So let’s hope that in these five races no team owners will issue any orders that will ruin the “show”!


*Registration is required to post in this forum

Back to top