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CHASE FOR THE NEXTEL CUP
IN ORDER OF POINTS STANDINGS

1. Kurt Busch

Car: No. 97 Sharpie Ford.

Chase points: First, 6,052.

Position change: None.

What happened last week: Busch had his first bad race of the Chase, finishing 42nd after blowing an engine. He saw his points lead sliced to 59, but it would have been much worse if his closest competitors had not also struggled.

Speaking: "We've done an awesome job for six weeks. We stumbled this past week, but we've got three more to go and they're great race tracks for us," Busch said.

Car: No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet.

Chase points: Second, 5,993.

Position change: Plus 2.

What happened last week: OK, who said Johnson couldn't win the title? His third consecutive victory has lofted him right back into contention. He also needed the drivers in front of him in the standings to struggle -- and they all did, on the same day.

Speaking: "We're not even worried about the championship. We're racing race by race right now. Three weeks ago we were for all intents and purposes out of the championship," said crew chief Chad Knaus.

Car: No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet.

Chase points: Third, 5,980.

Position change: Minus 1.

What happened last week: Gordon dropped to 72 points out of first after his 34th-place finish at Atlanta. He would have been out of the hunt completely if Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn't have problems. Now he's battling teammate Johnson, as well.

Speaking: "As a teammate, it's great to see Jimmie and the No. 48 team doing so well right now. As a competitor, we need to stop his momentum and gain some of our own. The best way to do that is to win this weekend," Gordon said.

Car: No. 6 Viagra Ford.

Chase points: Fourth, 5,971.

Position change: Plus 1.

What happened last week: Martin pulled back into the Chase with a second-place finish at Atlanta. He led the most laps, and is just 81 points out of first place in his bid to win his first championship.

Speaking: "They tell me that we'll be making our 600th career Cup start (this weekend), so we'd like nothing more than to get a win on Sunday. We had a great car last week and we were able to make up a lot of points and get back in the Chase, although we were pretty disappointed that we didn't get the win," Martin said.

Car: No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet.

Chase points: Fifth, 5,954 points.

Position change: Minus 2.

What happened last week: Earnhardt might have taken over the points lead in Atlanta if not for wrecking while racing for the lead with 15 laps to go. He dropped to 33rd, and although he fell two spots in the standings, he still gained ground on Busch. He was 125 points out, now he trails Busch by just 98.

Speaking: "Phoenix is a track we can approach with confidence. That's the attitude it's going to take the rest of the season," Earnhardt said.

Car: No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet.

Chase points: Sixth, 5,907.

Position change: None.

What happened last week: Stewart is still in it, but only because a win or two in the final three races could help him to his second series championship. He was ninth in Atlanta.

Speaking: "We still need to be better than what we are. It's easy to get discouraged when you've been off like we've been," Stewart said.

Car: No. 12 Alltel Dodge.

Chase points: Seventh, 5,866.

Position change: Plus 2.

What happened last week: Newman started from the pole but finished 17th. Still, he gained two spots in the standings.

Speaking: "If we can do in the next three races what Jimmie Johnson did in the last three, then we'll be in pretty good shape," Newman said.

Car: No. 38 M&M's Ford.

Chase points: Eighth, 5,815.

Position change: Minus 1.

What happened last week: Sadler collided with Joe Nemechek during a pit stop and ended up finishing 36th.

Speaking: "We've run into a bad streak of luck over the past few weeks. I'm hoping we can turn it around this weekend in Phoenix with a strong run. I really feel like this team had a car good enough to win last weekend in Atlanta until we had a miscue on pit road with Joe Nemechek," Sadler said.

Car: No. 17 DeWalt Tools Ford.

Chase points: Ninth, 5,795.

Position change: Minus 1.

What happened last week: Like his teammate Busch, Kenseth also blew an engine and ended up 41st. The defending series champion has no shot at repeating his title at 257 points back with three races to go and eight drivers in front of him.

Speaking: "We'll try to get it this week because I think we still have a win left in this team before the season is over, and the points will just take care of themselves," Kenseth said.

Car: No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge.

Chase points: 10th, 5,736.

Position change: None.

What happened last week: Mayfield was off all day at Atlanta and struggled to a 26th-place finish.

Speaking: "(Atlanta) was a long day for us, probably the worst day we've had in a long time. We beat ourselves again," Mayfield said.

Compiled by the Associated Press

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