Qualifying rained off

NASCAR quickly pulled the plug on Friday's qualifying session for Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Speedway. Rain, on the leading edge of the huge, wet remnant of Storm Ivan, began to fall early in the time trials, and appeared likely to continue through the night. NASCAR therefore cancelled the session and ranked the field by points and criteria

Qualifying rained off

That had the beneficial effect of focusing attention on NASCAR's championship chase, with the top 10 in the standings, re-ranked last weekend at Richmond, starting in the top 10 Sunday at the 1-mile New Hampshire oval. Leader Jeff Gordon, restarting the season with 5050 points under the experimental format, will start No. 1. Team-mate Jimmie Johnson, at 5045, will start No. 2.

Gordon left Richmond with 3602 points through the first 26 events of the season, with Johnson at 3542. NASCAR this year decided to re-calibrate the top 10 in points with 10 races to go, spacing the top 10 teams in five-point increments down from 5050. All outside the top 10 are excluded from championship consideration, with 11th-place Jamie McMurray officially 1879 out of the lead.

Theoretically, it is still possible that if all of the top 10 quit racing today, and if McMurray won the remaining 10 races, leading the most laps in each, he could score 1900 points and win the championship.

Gordon will start No. 1 for the seventh time this year, leading the series. He has won five times this year, also at the head of the class.

The field was made by points for the third time this year, three times in the past six events.

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