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CHASE FOR THIS DOZEN

A look at the 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers who made the cut for the 10-race Chase for the Championship.

Mark Martin

Drives: No. 5 Chevy

2009 wins: Four

New points: 5,040

Cut to the Chase: Making it after finishing 16th, 40th, 40th and 31st in his first four races, Martin has a solid chance of winning his long-awaited Cup championship. He got into the top 12 with his victory in May at Darlington and, except for two weeks, has been there ever since. The 50-year-old might be the biggest sentimental favorite the Chase has ever had.

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Tony Stewart

Drives: No. 14 Chevy

2009 wins: Three

New points: 5,030

Cut to the Chase: He took a major risk last season, leaving a comfortable and successful situation at Joe Gibbs Racing to try ownership by buying half of Carl Haas' back-of-the-pack team. Stewart-Haas Racing has been worth the gamble, and the two-time champion has led the points since late May. He leads the series with 13 top-five finishes and might be on track to win his most impressive title yet.

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Jimmie Johnson

Drives: No. 48 Chevy

2009 wins: Three

New points: 5,030

Cut to the Chase: The three-time defending champion has once again built an impressive resume for his competitors to worry about. Two of his three wins - at Martinsville and Dover - were at tracks that the series visits again during the Chase. One slight worry: Coming into Richmond, Johnson had just one top-10 finish in five races. Then again, before Saturday he had led a series-high 1,252 laps this season.

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Denny Hamlin

Drives: No. 11 Toyota

2009 wins: Two

New points: 5,020

Cut to the Chase: This is his fourth full season in Sprint Cup and Hamlin, who briefly lived in Brandon as a child, has made the Chase every time. Though Kyle Busch has won more, Hamlin has by far been the most consistent driver this season for Joe Gibbs Racing, and Toyota in general. He has 10 top-10 finishes in his past 12 races and got a big boost with his win Saturday at Richmond, his hometown track.

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Kasey Kahne

Drives: No. 9 Dodge

2009 wins: Two

New points: 5,020

Cut to the Chase: Having Kahne make the Chase is a feather in the cap for Richard Petty Motorsports, the team forged from the merger of Gillett Evernham and Petty Enterprises. He was out of a Chase spot through much of the spring but came on strong and, with momentum from his win Sunday in Atlanta, he might be a sneaky contender for the title.

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Jeff Gordon

Drives: No. 24 Chevy

2009 wins: One

New points: 5,010

Cut to the Chase: After a stunning winless season last year, the four-time series champion has bounced back. His lone win was at Texas, a track that NASCAR revisits in the third-to-last Chase race, but he is second in top-five and top-10 finishes with 12 and 18, respectively. It seems he has been a contender forever but, at 38, he still has plenty left in the tank to win title No.5.

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Kurt Busch

Drives: No. 2 Dodge

2009 wins: One

New points: 5,010

Cut to the Chase: The champion in 2004, the inaugural year of the Chase, is the lone Chase entry for Roger Penske. Busch led the points for a week and was in the top three for a good chunk of the season until sliding in recent weeks. But look more closely: Of the eight Chase tracks that the series visited already this season, Busch has six top-eight finishes including four top-fives.

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Brian Vickers

Drives: No. 83 Toyota

2009 wins: One

New points: 5,010

Cut to the Chase: He has six poles in 2009, tied for the series high, but before finishing seventh Saturday he spent just one week in the top 12, in March. Vickers and his Red Bull team now take a big step forward, after they struggled just to make races in the team's 2007 debut season. The team is new enough to treasure this experience but likely not experienced enough to contend.

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Ryan Newman

Drives: No. 39 Chevy

2009 wins: None

New points: 5,000

Cut to the Chase: After three straight seasons out of the Chase, then joining the new Stewart-Haas team, Newman could have been excused if he needed a year to find his groove. Instead, he shook off a sluggish start to claw into the top 10 after 10 races and stayed there. And his only two top-three finishes this year (second at Charlotte, third at Talladega) came at Chase tracks.

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Juan Montoya

Drives: No. 42 Chevy

2009 wins: None

New points: 5,000

Cut to the Chase: This season has been an impressive leap for Montoya, the former open-wheel star who has flourished with a reconfigured team after Chip Ganassi merged his operation with Dale Earnhardt Inc. He was 20th and 25th in points in his first two full-time seasons, but this year he already has set a career high with 12 top-10 finishes, including eight in his past 13 races.

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Greg Biffle

Drives: No. 16 Ford

2009 wins: None

New points: 5,000

Cut to the Chase: The 2005 series runnerup was third last year but doesn't carry as much momentum into the Chase as some other contenders. Roush Fenway Racing has had a subpar season by its standards and of the eight Chase tracks that the series has been to before, Biffle has just one finish better than ninth - fourth at Fontana back in February.

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Carl Edwards

Drives: No. 99 Ford

2009 wins: None

New points: 5,000

Cut to the Chase: This has been a down year, relatively speaking, for Edwards, Biffle's Roush Fenway teammate. Edwards won nine times in 2008 and was runnerup in points, the second time he has had a title bid fall just short. But this year he's not only battling a drop in form, but dealing with a broken foot thanks to an accident while playing Frisbee.

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