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FACES * PLACES * RACES
November 30, 2005
5 Desperate Drivers You've heard all about the 2005 struggles and '06 prospects of superstars Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. But some of the sport's other leading men are under the gun as well. These drivers failed to make the Chase in '05 and will be facing an enormous amount of sponsor-driven pressure to advance to NASCAR's playoff next season.
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November 30, 2005

Faces * Places * Races

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11/5 TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY Fort Worth, Texas

11/12 PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY Avondale, Ariz.

11/19 HOMESTEAD- MIAMI SPEEDWAY Homestead, Fla.

5/28
LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Concord, N.C.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: The Lowe's Motor Speedway track was levigated (smoothed with a diamond grinder) before the fall race. The surface was faster than the cars' tires could handle, and 42 of 43 teams had tire-related problems. Is a repeat on tap? Also keep an eye on Jimmie Johnson, who has won four in row at Charlotte.
22 BIG NUMBER: Caution flags in last May's Coca-Cola 600, the most ever. At 5:15 the race was also the longest since '60.

9/9
RICHMOND INTERNATIONALL RACEWAY
Richmond, Va.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Expect plenty of paint-trading and hot tempers during this Saturday night race as the drivers get their final shot at a position in the 2006 Chase. One driver to keep a close eye on is Jamie McMurray, who missed out on a spot in the Top 10 in each of the last two years by a combined 98 points.
10 BIG NUMBER: Drivers not yet ensured a spot in the Chase field who entered the 2005 Richmond race still mathematically in contention.

10/8
TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY
Talladega, Ala.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Avoiding the Big One is the objective at Talladega. With NASCAR-mandated carburetor restrictor plates keeping speeds down, the cars run in huge packs, inches apart--making Talladega one of the most nerve-racking races on the circuit, especially for Chase contenders, who have far more to lose than gain.
5 BIG NUMBER: Spots Mark Martin fell in the points standings after his number 6 Ford was caught up in a seven-car accident on Lap 19 of the race. He would finish 41st.

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