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Jeremy Mayfield races his way into the Chase at Richmond. With a strong car and a little luck, Jeremy Mayfield's pre-race tactic of driving hard the entire race worked at Richmond and secured the No. 19 a spot in the Chase after taking the checkers. Mayfield knew before the race it was go time. “We came into the last week with a no-holds-barred attitude," Mayfield said. "We didn't even look at it [Richmond] like a points race. We couldn't. It was over then. The points racing and being conservative was over.”

Junior fails to make the Chase for the first time. In between crashes at Indianapolis and Fontana, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he was done talking about the point standings. In fact, he claims he didn’t even look at them leading up to Bristol, where he sat 16th in the standings -- 158 points out of the 10th and final qualifying spot. Earnhardt Jr. was tired and had no desire to talk statistics. "What can I do? I mean, dang, am I supposed to quit? Give it up?'' he asked. "I've just got to come back and try again next year.''

Kasey Kahne races in; Tony Stewart bows out. Kasey Kahne was outside the Chase with two events left when the series went to Fontana. A win there and a solid finish at Richmond helped him earn a berth in the Chase and an eighth-place position overall at the end of the season.

Tony Stewart had poor finishes at Michigan, Fontana and Richmond, leaving a defending Cup Series champion out of contention for the first time since the Chase was created and leaving Stewart with the worst finish of his career. At Fontana, Stewart eliminated himself from the top 10 after wrecking his primary car in practice and limping to an 18th-place finish in his backup, falling from eighth to 12th in the series standings.

“It takes 26 weeks to get to this point,” Stewart sighed after climbing out of his car. “This is proof of how tough this series is and how tough it is just to make this Chase.”

Johnson racks up back-to back wins, solidifies Chase berth and enter as top seed. Jimmie Johnson was tied with Jeff Gordon for bonus points heading into Fontana, went on to win at Auto Club Speedway and then again the following week at Richmond to earn an extra 20 points over Gordon heading into the Chase. With a total of 60 bonus points in his arsenal heading into the 10-race playoff, Johnson admitted he and the team had hit their stride.

“I just want to be strong and steady and start knocking down top-fives starting next weekend ... hopefully win a race or two in the Chase," Johnson said. The No. 48 won four of the last five races and Johnson claimed his second Cup championship.

Kyle Busch scored 40 bonus points during the last 13 races before the Chase. The wins came at Sonoma, Daytona, Chicago and Watkins Glen. Carl Edwards scored 30 bonus points during the last 13 races before the Chase, winning at Pocono, Michigan and Bristol. While Edwards eventually finished runner-up to Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Busch ended up in 10th, both drivers created plenty of suspense leading up to the Chase.

Brian Vickers sat 14th in the standings and was on the outside looking in at the top 12 when the No. 83 arrived at Michigan. Vickers and team won the race on fuel mileage and went on to pass Kyle Busch in points late in the race at Richmond, move up five points in the standings and clinch his first career spot in the Chase, leaving Busch on the outside looking in from 13th position.

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Driver News

Car Driver Team
David Reutimann Michael Waltrip Racing
Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Racing
Kurt Busch Penske Racing
Mark Martin Hendrick Motorsports
David Ragan Roush Fenway Racing
Robby Gordon Robby Gordon Motorsports
Bobby Labonte Phoenix Racing
Kasey Kahne Richard Petty Motorsports
Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing
Brad Keselowski Penske Racing
Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing
Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing
Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Racing
Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing
Elliott Sadler Richard Petty Motorsports
Joey Logano Joe Gibbs Racing
Bill Elliott Wood Brothers Racing
Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports
Kevin Harvick Richard Childress Racing
Jeff Burton Richard Childress Racing
Clint Bowyer Richard Childress Racing
John Andretti Front Row Motorsports
Travis Kvapil Front Row Motorsports
Mike Bliss Tommy Baldwin Racing
Johnny Sauter Tommy Baldwin Racing
Casey Mears Tommy Baldwin Racing
Kevin Conway Front Row Motorsports
David Gilliland Front Row Motorsports
Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Racing
Juan Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Racing
A.J. Allmendinger Richard Petty Motorsports
J.J. Yeley Whitney Motorsports
Marcos Ambrose JTG-Daugherty Racing
Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports
Michael McDowell Prism Motorsports
Martin Truex Jr. Michael Waltrip Racing
Dave Blaney Prism Motorsports
Mike Bliss TRG Motorsports
Sam Hornish Jr. Penske Racing
Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing
Scott Speed Red Bull Racing Team
Brian Vickers Red Bull Racing Team
Joe Nemechek NEMCO Motorsports
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports
Scott Riggs Keyed-Up Motorsports
Paul Menard Richard Petty Motorsports
Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Racing
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