Who’s Hot / Who’s Not

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not In Nextel Cup: 2006 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Edition

As the smoke cleared from a wacky weekend of racing, Jeff Burton continued to remain the class of the Chase field, with the rest of his challengers now looking to play catchup in the second half. Heading into Martinsville, second through seventh in the standings are separated by just over 100 points, so any little bump or bang this weekend could send the standings into a tailspin.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not In Nextel Cup: 2006 UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Edition

Other than Jeff Gordon's early exit, the Chase picture wasn't altered much until the final 10 laps of the race. That's when all heck broke loose: Jeff Burton had to pit under green with a flat tire, then Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. became involved in their infamous last lap crash. In those final 30 miles of racing, the entire points picture changed: Burton went from widening his point lead even more to having it cut down to only six, as by the end of the day, everyone but Gordon had gained on him. A race that had produced clear championship favorites the past two seasons now found itself responsible for tightening the points race.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: 2006 Banquet 400 at Kansas Edition

Jimmie Johnson was blowing by the competition and looked to be heading for a win that could have got him back in the title hunt, but Tony Stewart calmly came in and stole the win away with a little extra fuel. The late race fuel mileage gamble left plenty of other Chasers looking for gas - and answers - at the end of the day, in the midst of several other spinouts and mechanical issues that threatened to doom their title hopes.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: 2006 Sylvania 300 at Loudon Edition

With the driver points for the top 10 reset so that everyone was separated by just five points, Sunday's race caused each Chaser to leave in a different position in the point standings than where they started. For some teams, that was good news; they withstood the first test of the championship battle and came out of Sunday's race intact. For others, though, the day turned out to be anything but sunny, and they now find themselves in jeopardy of staring at an empty trophy case far earlier than they should be.

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