Race No. 7 of the Chase for the Sprint Cup is in the books. Here's how the 12 drivers stand after Carl Edwards' victory Sunday in the Pep Boys Auto Boys 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway:
1. Jimmie Johnson (finished second at Atlanta): This was Johnson's bad race. Seriously. After being hit with a speeding penalty on pit road, Johnson found himself in 30th, a lap down. So what does he do? He rallies to finish second, thanks to a late call by Chad Knaus calling his driver in for fresh tires. Stick a fork in the field. This thing is over.
2. Carl Edwards (finished first, -183 points): Did exactly what he needed to do. Unfortunately for him, so did Johnson. Edwards didn't even know where Johnson finished. When he was told second, Edwards could only shake his head and say, "Jimmie's magic."
3. Greg Biffle (finished 10th, -185 points): So much for Biffle's pre-race talk that the Chase wasn't over because he thought he could win all four remaining races. Of course, Biffle had to say that, but on Sunday he wasn't ever a factor.
4. Jeff Burton (finished 18th, -218 points): Two weeks ago, Burton was the talk of the town. But a tough race at Martinsville was followed by another rough weekend at Atlanta. Salvaged a top 20 after getting caught up in a late-race wreck, but that essentially sealed his fate.
5. Kevin Harvick (finished 13th, -307 points): What's amazing is that after only seven races, the fifth-place driver is more than 300 points back. After the seventh race of the season, Denny Hamlin was in seventh, trailing points leader Burton by only 152 points.
6. Jeff Gordon (finished ninth, -312 points): Usual day for Gordon – looked good for a while, maybe even a possible challenger for the win, only to fade in the end. Amazingly he was better than Johnson all day, yet finished seven spots worse.
7. Clint Bowyer (finished 20th, -314 points): Pretty uneventful day for Bowyer. Started up front, fell back early and never recovered. Every driver has days like that. Well, every driver except Johnson.
9. Matt Kenseth (finished fourth, -413 points): Said while leading that his car wasn't good enough to win and … he was right. Still, it's clear that despite his spot in the standings Kenseth has certainly not given up.
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (finished 11th, -419 points): Muscled a difficult handling car to a decent finish. Actually, finishing intact rather than in the wall might have been Junior's biggest accomplishment in weeks.
11. Denny Hamlin (finished third, -425 points): Hamlin nearly grabbed his first win at a 1.5-mile track, which would be huge for his confidence. Give him credit for racing tough after the hard crash at Talladega that sent him to the hospital.
12. Kyle Busch (finished fifth, -465 points): For a moment, he looked like the Kyle Busch of the regular season. After watching him struggle for the last seven weeks, this much is quite evident: NASCAR is the better when Kyle Busch is winning because the kid brings excitement.
- Carl Edwards
- Atlanta Motor Speedway