Keselowski tumbles in standings; teammate Logano is big winner
In the green
Joey Logano (Change: 14th to 10th)
There’s a Penske Racing driver slotted in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field, but it’s not the defending champion. Joey Logano’s streak of strong finishes reached six consecutive races Sunday in Kentucky. A fourth-place finish vaulted Logano into the final Chase spot … for now.
Kurt Busch (Change: 17th to 14th)
The No. 78 Chevrolet was all over the track Sunday. That includes the apron, where Kurt Busch tried to make a pass and ultimately bumped Brad Keselowski, causing a seven-car accident that red-flagged the race. In the end, though, the 2004 series champion drove through the field after a final restart and finished sixth.
Jamie McMurray (Change: 21st to 19th)
McMurray finished second at Kentucky, his first top-five since the 2011 fall race at Bristol. Snapping that skid was important, and so was climbing two spots in the standings. Now in 19th, McMurray would be in consideration for one of two Wild Card spots to the Chase. Of course, he still needs to win, but his performance at Kentucky showed that winning isn’t an unreasonable expectation.
In the red
Brad Keselowski (Change: Ninth to 13th)
At one of his favorite tracks and running the tripleheader, this was supposed to be a banner weekend for Keselowski. After finishing second in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series race, Keselowski had the car -- and the mindset -- capable of winning his first Sprint Cup race of the season. He was spun out by Kurt Busch, however, on Lap 48 and destroyed his No. 2 Ford. The resulting 33rd-place finish puts the defending champion on the outside of the postseason picture.
Greg Biffle (Change: Sixth to ninth)
Biffle was an innocent bystander when Keselowski was spun, but when the No. 2 Ford careened onto the track, Biffle’s No. 16 Ford got caught up in a big way. To be exact, his car caught on fire. The three-place drop in the standings isn’t quite so precipitous, though, given that Biffle has a win to fall back on.
Paul Menard (Change: 12th to 15th)
Consistent all season, Menard got caught up in the Lap 48 wreck. His 14-point effort tied for his worst outing of the season, and it puts Menard 20 points out of 10th place, a significant blow to his Chase chances.
Carl Edwards (Change: Stays second)
What an up-and-down day for Edwards’ team. Trailing Jimmie Johnson by 25 points in the standings entering the day, it looked like Edwards would put a sizable dent in that lead. Johnson spun out on a late restart and was 24th with 15 laps to go. Edwards was running in the top five and, at the time, Johnson’s point lead was cut to six points. But then the No. 48 charged through the field to finish ninth, and Edwards faltered late to finish 21st. As a result, the gap between him and Johnson widened to 38 points.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Change: Stays sixth)
First of all, Earnhardt and his No. 88 team should be commended. Junior drilled a piece of debris just after the caution flag came out early on, tearing up his grille. At the time, Earnhardt Jr. -- who was on the Coors Light Pole -- was leading the race. The team taped up Earnhardt Jr.’s grille to the point where he didn’t lose a lap, but it wasn’t the same machine after the incident. So although Earnhardt rallied to finish 12th, he missed out on a great shot at his first win since June 17, 2012.
Denny Hamlin (Change: Stays 25th)
This just isn't Hamlin's year. Needing wins, he cut a tire early in the race and lost his top-five position. Then he got it back with some great driving. Then he lost it all, for good this time, after losing another tire and slamming into the outside wall. He finished 35th.