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Chase Update: Two to Go!

With only two races left, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series “Chase for the Championship” is coming down to the wire. Teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson continue to battle the series’ top competitors each Sunday on the track.

After Sunday’s event at Phoenix International Raceway, Gordon sits second in the championship points standings with 6,150 markers, while Johnson lies in fourth with 6,143. The pair are off to Darlington (S.C.) Raceway this weekend, a place where both have previous success.

Gordon and the DuPont team are shooting for another trip to Victory Lane this Sunday. Throughout his career, the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolets has taken the checkered flag six times at the track some say is “Too tough to tame.” A win this weekend would strengthen the DuPont team’s quest for a fifth NEXTEL Cup title, called the “Drive for Five.”

“When you’re battling for a championship, it’s intense—every single decision is a major one, every single position is a major one,” says Gordon.

After experiencing some setbacks early in “The Chase,” Team Lowe’s Racing and Johnson rebounded to score three straight victories in the month of October at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. Under the guidance of crew chief Chad Knaus, Johnson and the No. 48 team are back in the title hunt and seeking their first Cup Series crown.

This weekend Team Lowe’s Racing will be returning to the site of their first triumph of the 2004 season looking for a possible sweep. As the tension mounts, the crew is trying to stay focused on the task at hand.

“We’re just going to continue going race by race,” says Knaus. “That’s the mentality we’re going to take to Darlington, which is one of my favorite race tracks.”

Johnson has a positive attitude as he looks ahead to the last two events of the season.

“I feel good about where we are with those final races and there are good tracks coming up for me,” says Johnson. “We won earlier this year at Darlington and then finished second again at Homestead last year. So if we can have similar performances, we’ll be very proud of that. We’ve just got to see how it all shakes out.”

The Mountain Dew Southern 500 will be aired on NBC at 1 p.m. ET and at 12:30 p.m. on MRN. The “Chase for the Championship” will conclude with a 400-lap event at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 21 that will air on NBC and MRN at 12:30 p.m. ET.

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