Evernham Team Staying Alive

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For the second consecutive week, the Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodges of Evernham Motorsports posted top-10 finishes. It could be the most difficult top-10s Jeremy Mayfield and Kasey Kahne have earned this season.

At the same time, the efforts of each team may prove vital in their quest for a berth in the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup." Six races remain to determine the top-10 drivers that will compete for the championship.

Mayfield, driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, qualified ninth with a lap of 52.701 seconds around the 2.5-mile track. His speed was 170.775 mph.

Mayfield ran in the top 15 throughout the first half of the race. Crew chief Kenny Francis called for a two-tire pit stop under caution on lap 101 for track position. Mayfield was third for the restart. He was second 20 laps later after another stop under yellow on lap 122. He stayed out during the next caution as Francis and the Dew Crew wanted to make it to the finish on one more stop.

Over the next 30 laps, tire wear and handling in the corners dropped Mayfield back to 21st when the seventh caution fell on lap 161. With fresh tires and enough fuel to make it to the checkered flag, Mayfield started his charge back through the field. He was 10th by lap 178 and managed to climb as high as eighth 12 laps later before bringing the No. 19 Dodge to the checkered flag in the ninth spot.

"The car was tight in the corners but we kept fighting and came home with a top-10 finish," Mayfield said. "That's pretty cool. That shows you what kind of team this is. They worked their hearts out in the pits, and I gave it all I could driving the car.

"They kept telling me the big picture was going to be good today. I knew what that meant; it was going to be a good points day. Everybody on this team is on the same page, working for the same thing."

Mayfield remains 11th in the NEXTEL Cup point standings but gained 66 points on 10th place. He's now just 40 points out of 10th and 226 out of fifth. It was his third straight and eighth top 10 finish of the season.

Kahne, the pole winner at Pocono in June, qualified in the 20th position with a 53.083-second effort at 169.546 mph. Kahne had the No. 9 Dodge on the move from the start. He was 10th by lap 49 with the Dew Crew gaining three more positions on a quick pit stop under yellow on lap 53. He was fifth by lap 74.

Kahne was running third when he was caught up in an accident on lap 108. Tommy Baldwin and his crew needed two pit stops to make repairs and get the Dodge back out in the 29th position. The repairs were on the money with Kahne gaining nine positions in the next 10 laps.

Baldwin called for a two-tire pit stop under caution on lap 122, which enabled the team to gain another eight positions to move into the 12th spot. Kahne worked his way to fourth when the No. 9 Dodge came to the pits for the final stop under yellow on lap 162. The Dew Crew turned in another quick pit stop, getting Kahne back out in the fourth spot. On lap 175, Kahne moved to third and held the spot to the checkered flag.

"I'm surprised it took off like that after the accident," Kahne said. "We were lucky it didn't get the fender or front nose. That would have made the car loose. I was on the brakes hard but still caught the right rear corner of the spinning car.

"We had a great racecar. After the accident, I'll definitely take this finish. It's tough to get top 10s in this series. For us to put together a full day and get our car up to third when we fell back behind the 20-spot, it was a good day."

Kahne moves from 14th to 12th in the point standings, gaining 93 points on 10th place. He's now just 69 points out of 10th. It was his sixth top-five and seventh top-10 finish of the season. He leads the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings by 57 points.

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