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Kurt Busch adds to quickly filling Chase Grid

March 30, 2014, Staff report,

'The Outlaw' becomes sixth winner in first six races

A week after his brother's win at Fontana, Kurt Busch joined the likely field in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by winning the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday.

Busch wrestled the lead from six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson twice in the final 27 laps for the thrilling victory. Johnson was seeking his ninth win at Martinsville.

Stewart-Haas Racing has now won two of the first six Sprint Cup Series races of the season, including Kevin Harvick's victory at Phoenix.

Busch, 35, won for the 25th time in his Sprint Cup career and ended an 83-race winless streak.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. regained the points lead after placing third on Sunday. Earnhardt Jr. now has four top-five finishes this season, including his win in the season opener at Daytona.

Matt Kenseth is second in the standings, nine points behind Earnhardt Jr., followed by Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Johnson. Of those four drivers, only Edwards has a victory this year (at Bristol).

Kyle Busch moved up a spot to sixth after placing 14th on Sunday, and Brad Keselowski, who won the race at Las Vegas, dropped three spots to seventh in the standings with his 38th-place finish at Martinsville.

If Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Edwards, Keselowski, Harvick or Earnhardt Jr. win at least one more time this season, they would be guaranteed a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Drivers with one win through the first 26 races must rank among the top 30 in the points standings to qualify for the Chase.

After the sixth race of NASCAR's regular season, here is how the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings look:

Pos. Driver Chase berth
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Winner: Daytona
2. Carl Edwards
Winner: Bristol
3. Kyle Busch
Winner: Fontana
4. Brad Keselowski
Winner: Las Vegas
5. Kurt Busch
Winner: Martinsville
6. Kevin Harvick
Winner: Phoenix
7. Matt Kenseth
2nd in points
8. Jeff Gordon
4th in points
9. Jimmie Johnson
5th in points
10. Joey Logano
8th in points
11. Austin Dillon
9th in points
12. Ryan Newman
10th in points
13. Paul Menard
11th in points
14. Denny Hamlin
12th in points
15. Brian Vickers
13th in points
16. Marcos Ambrose 14th in points


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