Chase score card: leaving Talladega Superspeedway

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With his win in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Sunday afternoon, Denny Hamlin became the eighth different winner through 10 races of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and all but locked himself in a spot in the expanded 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship post season.

Despite still being winless, so far, this season, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth maintained their positions as the top two drivers in the series points wise, with Gordon leaving Talladega with his points lead still in tact and Kenseth three points back in second.

Four of the eight race-winning drivers are in the top-10 of the points standings, with winners Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch on the outside looking in. With a dismal race at Talladega, Keselowski dropped outside the top-10, falling to 11th, while Harvick, a two-time winner already this season, moved up into the top-20, climbing to 19th in the standings. Kurt Busch, meanwhile, still hangs out outside the top-20, not in 27th spot. Hamlin occupies the 12th spot in the standings, despite missing a race earlier in the season because of an eye issue.

Bad news for Busch — not only is he way outside the top-20, he’s only 52 points ahead of 31st-place driver Michael Annett. Drivers outside the top-30 at the point of the Chase cutoff in September can’t get into the Chase, regardless of win total.

Here’s a look at the points standings (race wins noted by astericks):

1. Jeff Gordon, leader
2. Matt Kenseth, -3
3. *Kyle Busch, -4
4. *Dale Earnhardt Jr., -19
4. *Carl Edwards, -19
6. **Joey Logano, -42
7. Jimmie Johnson, -43
8. Greg Biffle, -47
9. Ryan Newman, -48
10. Brian Vickers, -50

11. *Brad Keselowski, -53
12. *Denny Hamlin, -55
19. **Kevin Harvick, -89
27. *Kurt Busch, -151

– Photo courtesy of USA Today

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Tags: Chase For The Sprint Cup NASCAR Talladega Superspeedway

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