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Chase Breakdown: Harvick gains ground

Jay Hart
Yahoo Sports

Kevin Harvick didn't win, but he did make up ground on Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin. Now, with three races to go, the Chase is closer than ever.

Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick were side-by-side when a caution came out on the final lap. It took NASCAR several minutes to declare a winner. In the end, it was Bowyer, who now has won two Chase races.

Here is a look at how the 12 Chase drivers fared in Race No. 7 of the Chase on Sunday at Talladega:

1. Jimmie Johnson – Finished 7th: Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus played the race almost perfectly, hiding in the back, away from danger (that ultimately never came). They made their move with about 15 laps to go and came home with a solid finish. (-)

2. Denny Hamlin – Finished 9th: Hamlin's laying back strategy almost backfired on him when he lost the draft and ultimately went a lap down. In the end he was disappointed – he had a shot at the win – but he shouldn't be. Now it's on to Texas. (-14 points)

3. Kevin Harvick – Finished 2nd: As usual, Harvick is in the mix for the win at Talladega. Though he didn't get it, he did manage to trim 24 points off Johnson's lead. (-38 points)

4. Jeff Gordon – Finished 8th: Another disappointing end for Gordon, who can take solace in knowing he helped his teammate to the front and, possibly, enabled him to maintain the points lead. (-207 points)

5. Kyle Busch – Finished 25th: Where did Busch go in the end? He was leading the race, got shuffled back and never recovered. An absolutely awful end to what had been a good day to that point for Busch. (-230 points)

6. Carl Edwards – Finished 17th: At least he stayed out of trouble all day. That's solid consolation for Edwards, who oftentimes finds himself wrecking at Talladega. (-247 points)

7. Tony Stewart – Finished 31st: A cut tire early had Stewart playing catch up all day long. (-317 points)

8. Matt Kenseth – Finished 16th: Once again, Kenseth moves up the standings by not doing anything spectacular – good or bad. (-324 points)

9. Kurt Busch – Finished 30th: Was he even at the track? He shows up on the results, but Kurt Busch was never a factor. (-350 points)

10. Jeff Burton – Finished 41st: He was kicking the side of his car after getting wrecked by Dale Earnhardt Jr., and for good reason. Burton was a factor for the win, only it didn't happen, again. (-352 points)

11. Greg Biffle – Finished 19th: Like Edwards, just happy to not have to make a trip to the infield care center during the race. (-361 points)

12. Clint Bowyer – Finished 1st: What a finish for Bowyer, who had never won a restrictor-plate race until Sunday. The classic moment came when he did a burnout before NASCAR declared him the winner. (-367 points)

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