1. Greg Biffle: Biffle posted his sixth top-10 finish of the year with a fifth in the STP 400 at Kansas Motor Speedway. He maintained the lead in the Sprint Cup point standings, and now leads Martin Truex, Jr. by 15.
“Whereas I got a cowboy hat and a pair of six-shooters for winning at Texas,” Biffle said, “Denny Hamlin received a pair of ruby red slippers, which I’m sure he tapped together and said ‘There’s no place like Homestead…to blow a points lead and hence the 2010 Sprint Cup title.’”
2. Martin Truex, Jr.: Truex led 173 of 267 laps at Kansas, but lost the lead to Denny Hamlin with 31 to go and held on for second, earning his fifth consecutive top-10 finish. He jumped two places in the point standings to second, and trails Greg Biffle by 15.
“I made a few desperation moves to pass Hamlin at the end,” Truex said. “But what better time to say ‘banzai’ than while driving a Toyota and attempting to pass another?
“I’m in negotiations to renew my contract with Michael Waltrip Racing. That means I get to sit at a table and talk numbers with Michael. Therein lies the secret to being around Michael—someone has to pay me to do it.”
3. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson followed up his runner-up finish at Texas with a third in the STP 400 at Kansas, scoring his fourth top 5 of the year. He improved one spot in the point standings to seventh, and now trails Greg Biffle by 37.
“In the Hendrick Motorsports garage,” Johnson said, “there’s a lot of talk about streaks. Hendrick has been sitting on 199 wins for awhile now. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has a 137-race winless streak. The way things are going, it’s a toss-up as to who gets to 200 first.”
“As you probably couldn’t help but notice, the Lowe’s No. 48 Chevy sported the ‘Mountain Green’ color. That was a color made popular by two 1960’s iconic products, muscle cars and ugly toilets.”
4. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth finished fourth in the STP 400, taking his fifth top-5 result of the year. He is now third in the point standings, 17 behind Roush Fenway teammate Greg Biffle.
“After two cautions at Texas,” Kenseth said, “there were only three at Kansas. That means, in both cases, that the winner’s speed was above average, while the racing itself was below average. As such, electronic fuel injection is no longer the hot topic of discussion—instead, it’s cruise control.”
5. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: Still seeking his first win in 136 races, Earnhardt came up short but finished with a solid seventh at Kansas. In eight races this year, he hasn’t finished lower than 15th, and is now fourth in the point standings, 21 out of first.
“You probably heard me profess that I think I’m the best driver in NASCAR,” Earnhardt said. “It remains to be seen who’s more motivated by that statement—me, or the ten drivers that actually are better than me.
6. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin slipped by Martin Truex, Jr. with 31 laps to go and sailed to his second win of the year, taking the STP 400 at Kansas Motor Speedway. Hamlin improved one place to fifth in the point standings, 23 behind Greg Biffle.
“This No. 11 Fed Ex team has a ton of momentum,” Hamlin said. “You could say we’re like a ‘freight’ train. Let’s just hope our 2011 troubles don’t rear it heads, because we were much like a train then as well, in that it often took more than one engine to get anywhere.”
7. Kevin Harvick: Harvick started second at Kansas and powered to a sixth-place finish, leading the charge for Richard Childress Racing. He is now sixth in the point standings, 25 out of first.
“The No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet was good,” Harvick said, “but not good enough. We were anything but ‘Rheem-arkable.’ As wordplay goes, that one should be ‘pun-ishable by death.
“But my disappointment with a sixth-place finish is a clear indication that I expect better from myself. I’m the ultimate ‘expectant’ father.”
8. Carl Edwards: Edwards, in the No. 99 Aflac Ford, joined Roush Fenway teammates Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle in the top 10, with a ninth at Kansas, his fifth top-10 result of the year. Edwards is now ninth in the point standings, 61 out of first.
“Sunday was a strong day for the Roush Fenway collective,” Edwards said. “All three of us in the top 10? That’s the first time we’ve done anything together in a long time.
“I must say, it’s tough for me to see myself behind Biffle and Kenseth in the point standings. Kenseth is sponsored by EcoBoost; what I need is an ego boost.”
9. Tony Stewart: Stewart came home 13th at Kansas, the last car on the lead lap after a long day of handling issues. He is now eighth in the point standings, 47 out of first.
“That’s two straight finishes outside the top 10,” Stewart said. “Despite our troubles, it’s no time to make any rash decisions, which should come as a relief to my crew chief, Steve Addington.
10. Kyle Busch: Busch finished 10th at Kansas as Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin won the STP 400. It was only Busch’s third top-10 result of the year, but it season turnaround could be in order at Richmond, where Busch has three wins.
“Hamlin’s making headlines,” Busch said, “and, in what’s is a complete mystery to me, for all the right reasons. I just haven’t been the same this year. Joe Gibbs said he wouldn’t mind seeing the ‘old’ Kyle Busch or the ‘new’ Kyle Busch, or, for that matter, ‘any’ Kyle Busch.”