Sports

Following the Chase drivers

NO. 1 MARK MARTIN: He finished seventh, saying he was happy with that based on how his car handled. Still, he gained eight points on Johnson, although other drivers like Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya gained on him.

NO. 2 JIMMIE JOHNSON (-18): Johnson finished ninth, but said the car was "edgy and all over the place." So he loses eight points to Martin and heads to a track - California - where he won last season. "Ninth's not too bad," he said.

NO. 3 JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (-51): Montoya drove a steady race - finishing fourth - and keeps his spot immediately behind Chase leaders Martin and Johnson. He led a lap and got five bonus points from that.

NO. 4 TONY STEWART (-67): He wins for a fourth time this season, moves up one spot in the standings and cuts into Martin's lead by 39 points. His decision for a two-tire pit stop late in the race allowed him to take the lead from Greg Biffle.

NO. 5 KURT BUSCH (-91): After qualifying 39th, Busch managed a respectable 11th. But he fell to fifth in the standings as Stewart moved past him. Crew chief Pat Tryson said the car was too loose at the end to make up much ground.

NO. 6 DENNY HAMLIN (-99): Hamlin finished fifth, the best of the race's Toyotas. "I said if I could take a top-five, I'd be happy," said Hamlin, who finished 22nd last week at Dover. "We got better and better through the course of the day."

NO. 7 JEFF GORDON (-103): He picked up one spot from eighth place with his runner-up finish Sunday. Furious with how his car handled early in the race, Gordon said his Chevy was "never spectacular" all day. But adjustments made by crew chief Steve Letarte enabled Gordon to close on Stewart before time ran out.

NO. 8 GREG BIFFLE (-114): Had perhaps the race's strongest car until he decided to take four fresh tires during a late caution. That allowed Stewart, Kasey Kahne and Johnson - who all took two tires - to beat him out of the pits.

NO. 9 RYAN NEWMAN (-164): A 22nd-place finish bumped Newman to ninth in the standings. "Pit road was our worst enemy," Newman said. "We had a 17-second stop on pit road on the green flag and that just really killed us." Newman also was penalized for leaving pit road too quickly.

NO. 10 CARL EDWARDS (-165): Edwards finished 10th and was surprised he did so well. "It didn't seem like it was going to happen at all," he said. "It's good that we made it back up, but it was still a frustrating day."

NO. 11 KASEY KAHNE (-190): He also decided to take two tires late in the race, but it didn't help him much because his Dodge wasn't as strong as Stewart's or Gordon's Chevrolets. So Kahne finished sixth and moved up one spot from 12th in the standings.

NO. 12 BRIAN VICKERS (-250): Vickers finished 37th and tumbled from 10th to 12th in the standings. "I just want to get out of Kansas, to be honest with you," he said. "It's been a long weekend for me." Vickers spun on Lap 126 and went to the garage on Lap 208 with a bad engine.

- David Scott, Charlotte Observer

  Comments