Four Past Champions Vye for NASCAR's Points Lead

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IMay 19, 2009

CONCORD, NC - MAY 25: Cars race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 on May 25, 2008 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

This weekend, the boys remain in Charlotte, NC for the Coca-Cola 600—NASCAR's longest race of the season.

For the fourth week this season, the top four drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings are all past champions. This weekend's even is important for each.

 

Jeff Gordon

Gordon enters Sunday's race with five wins at Lowe's Motor Speedway. If he manages to visit Victory Lane this weekend, he will tie Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for most victories at the track with six.

Even more important, however, is the 10 bonus points each driver receives after a win during the regular season.

Gordon currently has one win, however Kyle Busch leads the way with three.

 

Tony Stewart

Stewart has plenty of reasons to be excited about the upcoming Coca-Cola 600.

If Stewart were to win, he would become the seventh driver to follow up a NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race wint with a 600 win. He would also become the first driver-owner to win a points race since Ricky Rudd at Martinsville in 1998.

On top of that, Stewart could become the first driver-owner to lead the points since Alan Kulwicki did so in 1992 and could lead the points for the first time since Nov. 20, 2005.

Entering Sunday night's race, Stewart is a mere 29 points behind leader Gordon.

 

Kurt Busch

Busch enters a fork in the road for the 2009 season. The next three tracks—LMS, Dover, and Michigan—have not been kind to him, as he has average finishes of 20.8, 21.4, and 20.1, respectively.

Though he is comfortably 282 points inside the Chase cutoff, three bad finishes can erase that cushion quickly.

 

Jimmie Johnson

Johnson is also going for win No. 6 at the track that he and Crew Chief Chad Knaus have deemed to be "their house."

While Johnson ruled supreme at the Charlotte track from 2003-05, he has not won a points race at LMS since then. During that stretch, Johnson won five times in six races.

 

Notebook

  • There have been 100 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, two races per year since the track opened in 1960. In 1961, there were two 100-mile qualifying points races held the week before the May race. The first six fall races at Charlotte were 400-mile events (1960-65).
  • 37 drivers have posted poles, led by David Pearson with 14.
  • Fireball Roberts won the pole for the first race, in 1960.
  • David Pearson posted 11 straight poles at Lowe’s from the fall of 1973 through 1978.
  • Gordon and Ryan Newman lead all active drivers in poles, with seven.
  • Gordon won five straight poles for the spring race between 1994 and 1998.
  • 41 drivers have won races, led by Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip with six each.
  • Joe Lee Johnson won the first race, in 1960.
  • Gordon and Jimmie Johnson lead all active drivers in victories, each with five.
  • There have been 13 back-to-back victories, including three in a row by Fred Lorenzen (fall 1964 and both 1965) and four straight by Jimmie Johnson (both in 2004 and 2005).
  • A sweep has occurred eight times, including each season from 2004-2007.
  • Hendrick Motorsports has won 14 races, more than any other organization.
  • 13 races have been won from the pole, the last by Jimmie Johnson in the 2004 Coca-Cola 600.
  • The last three races have been won from a top-five starting position.
  • Jimmie Johnson won the 2003 Coca-Cola 600 from the 37th starting position, the furthest back a race winner has started.

 

Lowe’s Motor Speedway Data

Race No.: 12 of 36 (5-24-09)

Track Size: 1.5 miles

Banking/Corners: 24 degrees

Banking/Straights: 5 degrees

Frontstretch: 1,980 feet

Backstretch: 1,500 feet

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