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Standings Shuffle: Dale Jr. moves up

October 21, 2013, Taylor Starer,

Dale Jr. excels at one of his best tracks, while Kurt Busch drops hard

Updated standingsFull coverage

Three up

Three down

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Pts back



Jimmie Johnson




Matt Kenseth




Kyle Busch




Kevin Harvick




Jeff Gordon




Dale Earnhardt Jr.




Greg Biffle




Clint Bowyer




Kurt Busch




Carl Edwards




Ryan Newman




Joey Logano




Kasey Kahne




Jimmie Johnson (Change: 2nd to 1st)
Johnson went into the Camping World RV Sales 500 four points behind leader Matt Kenseth. After a tango with Talladega Superspeedway, he flipped-flopped with Kenseth and emerged the new points leader in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Johnson is no rookie to Talladega, having already claimed two wins, six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s in his Sprint Cup career. Even though he finished 13th in the field, he led for 47 laps, the most for the race. Johnson now heads to Martinsville, where he's owned the field in years past to the tune of eight wins.

Kyle Busch (Change: 5th to 3rd)
Coming out of a frightening wreck the previous night during the Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega, it's understandable to think that Busch might have been a little shaken up going into the Sprint Cup race. Busch, starting 27th in the field, missed his pit stall during the first round of green-flag pit stops on Lap 40, ultimately losing a lap, but regained it as the free-pass driver on the next caution flag on Lap 79. Finishing fifth and leading for nine laps has boosted this Chase contender from fifth in the standings to third as he heads to Martinsville where he's yet to land in Victory Lane in his Cup career. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Change: 9th to 6th)
For Earnhardt Jr., Talladega is personal. He holds the third most wins in the Sprint Cup Series at the track, behind his father, Dale Earnhardt, and Jeff Gordon, respectively. Leading for 38 laps, Earnhardt Jr. seemed to be in position to compete for a win. This was until the final lap when Austin Dillon, driving in place of injured Tony Stewart, lost control of his car causing an intense wreck. That brought out the day's third and final caution, freezing the field immediately and handing the win to the No. 1 car of Jamie McMurray without a challenge from Earnhardt Jr. or anyone else. Although Earnhardt Jr. didn't make it to Victory Lane like he had hoped, he still finished second making the most dramatic positive movement in the standings by hopping up three positions to sixth. Earnhardt Jr. is now 52 points behind the leader, Johnson, going into the seventh race in the Chase. 


Matt Kenseth (Change: 1st to 2nd)
Kenseth's time at Talladega was anything but ideal. Starting the race as the leader in the Chase, Kenseth endured handling issues, voicing complaints to his crew chief about looseness in his car. Feeling like he was going to crash around every corner, Kenseth eventually pitted and took four tires and adjustments, but that still didn't seem to help. Kenseth's rough ride at Talladega resulted in a 20th-place finish and dropped him back to second in the standings, four points behind Johnson. With no career wins at Martinsville, Kenseth will have to use his frustrations as fuel to get him back into the leader position in the Chase. 

Jeff Gordon (Change: 4th to 5th)
With six wins already at Talladega, Gordon knows the ins and outs of the treacherous track. Starting 19th in the field, Gordon had a pretty uneventful race and led for only three laps. Finishing 14th, his lackluster performance dropped him one spot in the standings to fifth. In order for Gordon to stay in Chase contention, he will have to pull off a win at Martinsville, like he's done seven times before during his Sprint Cup Career. Gordon is now 34 points behind the leader, Johnson. 

Kurt Busch (Change: 7th to 9th)
It would have been almost perfect for Busch to win at Talladega in his Wonder Bread car, but unfortunately that's not how events played out. Busch found himself in the top five numerous times, even holding the lead for three laps, but he just couldn't make any substantial waves in the field that would permit a positive move in the standings. Busch's less than theatrical performance had him finish 18th, dropping him back two positions in the standings. Busch still remains winless this season as he goes to Martinsville next weekend where he's seen Victory Lane just once.


Greg Biffle (Change: 6th to 7th)
In Biffle's 22 Sprint Cup races at Talladega, he has never seen Victory Lane at Talladega. Biffle often ran in the top 10 during the Camping World RV Sales 500 and even led for five laps. His drop to seventh in the standings during the sixth race in the Chase is detrimental to his championship dreams. Biffle missed a chance to make some positive movement in the standings and in order to stay alive in the Chase, Biffle must secure at win at Martinsville, where he still has yet to claim a victory in his career.

Joey Logano (Change: 11th to 12th)
One week Logano is up, and the next he's down. This time it's the latter. Dropping back to 12th in the standings after leading for seven laps at Talladega is not what this Chase contender wants to see. Logano finished 16th in the field and missed his chance to be more aggressive in the race that could have been a boost to his standings position. In the past, Logano has given himself the chance to be great, and now it's time to go out and make good on the opportunity that he's been given before it's too late. 


READ: McMurray rules
with late Talladega surge

WATCH: Final Laps:
McMurray wins; Dillon spins

READ: Points lead
changes hands

WATCH: Busch misses
pit stall