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Standings Shuffle: Junior misses out at Michigan

August 18, 2013, Pat DeCola,

Drivers position themselves for stretch run to postseason; Earnhardt struggles at best track Updated standings | Lap-by-Lap breakdown | Race highlights | Full coverage

Three up

Three down

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Pos. Driver Pts back +/-
1. Jimmie Johnson -- --
2. Clint Bowyer -41 --
3. Carl Edwards -51 --
4. Kevin Harvick -64 --
5. Kyle Busch -107 --
6. Matt Kenseth
-125 +1
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
-134 -1
8. Brad Keselowski
-146 --
9. Kurt Busch
-148 +2
10. Greg Biffle
-150 -1
Pos. Driver Pts back of 10th Wins
11. Kasey Kahne*
-4 2
12. Martin Truex Jr.*
-10 1
13. Joey Logano
-17 1
14. Jeff Gordon
-26 0
15. Ryan Newman
-27 1

 In the green

Joey Logano (Change: 16th to 13th)
Joey Logano’s first Ford, Michigan and Penske Racing victory hasn’t quite put him into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup yet, but he’s more than just knocking on the door -- he’s got the battering ram ready to break right through it. A top-five at Bristol, combined with poor finishes from either teammate Brad Keselowski or Kurt Busch, could push him right into the top 10 and past a Wild Card spot.

Kurt Busch (Change: 11th to ninth)
Busch is still in fantastic shape considering he’s gone the entire season without a victory. It was only a matter of time before he earned a provisional Chase spot with the way he’s been running most of the season. He just needs to finish out the non-Chase portion of the season with exceptionally strong showings if he isn’t able to sneak into Victory Lane at Bristol, Atlanta or Richmond.

Kasey Kahne (Change: 12th to 11th)
It isn’t much, but Kahne’s gaining of one spot from 12th to 11th has him that much closer to a holding on to a non-Wild Card spot, which would be, for obvious reasons, a little less concerning. He still holds at least a one-victory advantage over any Wild Card contention, with the site of his first win this season (Bristol) coming up next week, but he’d sure love to move up at least another spot to get him into the worry-free zone.

In the red

Martin Truex Jr. (Change: 10th to 12th)
Truex held onto a Chase spot by virtue of his strong road-course finishes, but his showing at Michigan (16th) has thrown him into the Wild Card mix. He’s now in danger of losing a spot altogether to Logano (seven points back) or, if things go terribly wrong at Bristol, Ryan Newman (17 back).

Jeff Gordon (Change: 13th to 14th)
Apart from Dale Earnhardt Jr. (who struggled Sunday, coincidentally) Hendrick Motorsports cars don’t generally run well at Michigan, so it would be unfair to have expected Gordon to pull off a win in the Irish Hills. After all, he had just two victories in 42 starts at the track. That said, with Logano winding up in Victory Lane, Gordon's Chase hopes took a drastic hit, and he almost certainly needs to earn his first win of 2013 at one of the three remaining non-Chase races.

Ryan Newman (Change: 14th to 15th)
Newman was far from terrible at Michigan, but by being leap-frogged by Logano in the standings and Truex falling to 11th, he loses his Wild Card Chase spot. With just two top-fives in 43 combined starts at Bristol and Atlanta, his only hope might be to pull off a miracle at Richmond, where he does have a victory.

Missed chances

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Change: 6th to 7th)
"Missed chances" might be an understatement for Junior, who lost a chance at what might have been his only shot at a victory before the Chase starts. With no wins in his back pocket and just 20 points separating himself from 11th-place Kahne, Earnhardt is in legitimate danger of not making the cut if he falls out of the top 10.


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