While Jamie McMurray stole the show with the win, the beast of the southeast took her turn at mixing up the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Multiple Chase drivers took a turn in the blender experiencing issues, which has now changed the complexion of the Chase.
12th: No. 33 Clint Bowyer, 300 points back of points leader Jimmie Johnson
After a finish of 17th, Clint Bowyer keeps his seat as the last place man in the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship standings. Bowyer struggled all night with an ill-handling car and even got into a pit road discussion with Johnson. Coming off of pit road, Johnson cut Bowyer off, in Bowyer’s mind, when he was leaving his stall. In return, Bowyer made contact with Johnson before they went back green.
Bowyer has a long fight ahead of him, something he knew he would have after the 150 points penalty following New Hampshire.
11th: No. 17 Matt Kenseth, 256 points back of Johnson
Matt Kenseth had a consistant night as he finished sixth after running in the top 10 for most of the night. Though if Kenseth is going to have a shot at the championship, Kenseth will have to pull off some wins and hope the others run into some misfortunes.
10th: No. 31 Jeff Burton, 239 points back of Johnson
After a finish of 20th due to an ill-handling car and a spin, Burton drops back two spots to 10th in points. Burton is known for his consistancy, however like Kenseth, he will have to go above that and hope for some misfortune.
9th: No. 2 Kurt Busch, 237 points back of Johnson
Busch had just a good of night as Burton did as he spun early in the race and was lucky nobody else made contact with him. From that point on, it was all downhill as the team could never get a handle on the car, which resulted in a finish of 30th. This, in return, caused him to drop three spots in the championship standings.
8th: No. 16 Greg Biffle, 225 points back of Johnson
With both Busch and Burton having issues, Biffle was able to gain two spots in the standings after finishing fifth. Biffle is known for being good on the mile and a halfs so it’d seem to be no surprise that he was in the top 10 most of the night.
7th: No. 99 Carl Edwards, 200 points back of Johnson
Carl Edwards is another Roush ford that had a decent night as he finished 12th to stay seventh in the standings. If Edwards wants to live up to his tough competitor edge and win the title, he’s going to have to pull off some top fives.
6th: No. 14 Tony Stewart, 177 points back of Johnson
After recieving damage in an early race incident after slowing down to avoid a wreck, Stewart’s night didn’t get better as he finished 21st and dropped one spot in the standings. Stewart had hopes that he’d be able to get back in the championship picture following his win at Auto Club Speedway. However, this sets him further back and makes the chances of that happening slimmer.
5th: No. 18 Kyle Busch, 177 points back of Johnson
After a finish of second, Busch gains four spots in the championship and looks to be entering back into the picture. Last week, Busch wrote himself off saying that he was done after they blew the motor. Following his second place finish, Busch was still disappointed as he felt that he should’ve won after dominating. Truthfully, Busch is going to have to pull off some wins if he wants to gain the points on his fellow competitors as right now, he looks to be just outside of the gate of being in the picture.
4th: No. 24 Jeff Gordon, 156 points back of Johnson
Gordon was running in the top 10 and looked to gain points after starting on pole, however alternator issues, which brought on a change of the batteries, caused him to finish 23rd. Gordon is barely in the picture as a swing of 161 points is possible in one race, if all the circumstances fall in place. Though this race also represents Gordon’s luck this year as whenever he seems to be in the spot to get a shot at winning, something happens that causes that chance to disappear.
3rd: No. 29 Kevin Harvick, 77 points back of Johnson
After looking to be the most consistant driver following the first 26 races, Harvick now sits third in points after finishing eighth. Harvick has the ability to pull off some wins so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Harvick made the charge.
2nd: No. 11 Denny Hamlin, 41 points back of Johnson
After finishing fourth, the disappointment was clear on Hamlin’s face as he knew he fell short of his goal – beating Johnson. Hamlin has officially declared that he is after Johnson and is ready to win the championship so look for these final five races to be exciting.
1st: No. 48 Jimmie Johnson
Following the Bank of America 200, Johnson deserves the “biggest comeback” award as a lot of people thought it was going to be a poor finish for the No. 48 team. At the beginning of the race, Johnson had a really loose car, which caused him to spin. Once he was stuck back in traffic, it was thought that he’d be done. However, like many times before, crew chief Chad Knaus pulled out the magic wand and got the car to where it was the quickest car on track. Johnson drove from the back to lead the race for awhile, and then eventually settled for second. Performances like these are what win championships and Johnson proved why he is a four-time champion. Look for the No. 48 team to put out these types of performances from here till Homestead.
Each week brings a new challenge to the Chase for the Championship drivers and each week, you see drivers that lose hopes to being the 2010 Sprint Cup Champion.
Next Sunday, the drivers will head to Martinsville Speedway, a tough half mile paperclip. Look for Johnson and Hamlin to battle for the win and the title as they’ve both been battling the track lately to determind whom is king. Although while they’re at it, don’t forget to watch the other 10 as they may sneak in and spoil their party.