Jeremy Mayfield's seventh place finish in Sunday's Sirius at the Glen at Watkins Glen International, combined with a tough day by Ryan Newman, propelled him into the top 10 in points, the coveted cut-off to make the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup.
Mayfield moved from 12th to 10th in points and holds a 24-point advantage over the 11th place driver, Evernham Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne. Newman, who held the 10th spot previously, had brake problems and finished 26th.
Mayfield's move is the first time a new driver has appeared in the top 10 since the season's ninth race, at Talladega, Ala., when Bobby Labonte moved from 12th to 10th.
"We were real good all day. We made good calls in the pits, we stayed on the track and didn't wreck and we had real good pit strategy," Mayfield said.
"That's what we've got to do to stay in the top 10. We're 10th now, and we've got to maintain that. We're not going to look behind us. We're just going to look ahead."
There will be no letting up for Mayfield, if he hopes to stay in the top 10.
The top-six drivers are locked into the top 10 regardless of their finish next week, but for positions 7 through 10 anything is possible.
"It's taken a lot of support to get us in there," Mayfield said. "We can't work any harder. My guys are giving it all they got and I'm giving it all I got. Dodge is giving all they got to us, too.
"I always said if you're sitting outside the top 10, all the pressure is on getting in. Now that we're in, all the pressure is to hold onto it."
Mayfield called Sunday's road course race the most unpredictable of those remaining before the chase for the title begins.
"You never know here and my road course record isn't very good anyway," he said. "I cost us at Sears Point, spinning out with 10 (laps) to go. I didn't want to take any chances. I had to race smart."