Race No. 5 of the Chase for the Sprint Cup is in the books. Here’s how the 12 drivers stand after Saturday's Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway:
1. Jimmie Johnson (finished sixth at Lowe's): Is having a solid, yet unspectacular Chase. Still, he's maintained a somewhat comfortable lead if only because he and his team don't make any mistakes. But if they do, Jeff Burton and Greg Biffle are close enough to make him pay.
2. Jeff Burton (finished first, -69 points): Haven't been high on Burton as a legitimate championship contender because he's lacked speed all season. But what he lacks under the hood he makes up for with his head. Like Johnson, Burton doesn't make many mistakes.
3. Greg Biffle (finished seventh, -86 points): Missed an opportunity to gain some points on Johnson. Biffle went into the weekend knowing he had the best Roush Fenway car. A seventh-place finish is respectable, but not good enough when Johnson is the man you're chasing.
4. Carl Edwards (finished 33rd, -168 points): Imagine how Edwards felt sitting on pit road, his engine refusing to start, watching Johnson race by again and again. Edwards isn't done, yet, but he definitely needs a mistake in front of him to start a rally.
5. Clint Bowyer (finished 12th, -185 points): He's avoided the mulligan everyone behind him has already taken. That's good enough to finish in the top five but won't be enough to climb much higher than where he is now.
6. Kevin Harvick (finished 13th, -207 points): Like his RCR teammates, he's been a tick slow all season. The difference is he hasn't been as consistent or as lucky as Burton and Bowyer.
7. Tony Stewart (finished 11th, -228 points): If there is one driver who could put together a run to catch and pass Johnson, it's Stewart. Unfortunately, he ruined what would have been a solid day by speeding on pit road. Time seems to have run out.
8. Jeff Gordon (finished eighth, -245 points): Why pit when you had the lead? That decision late in the race cost Gordon a chance at his first win of the season. As Ricky Craven preaches all the time, you don't gamble when you're in control, which is what Gordon and crew chief Steve Letarte did.
9. Kyle Busch (finished fourth, -326 points): Too little, too late. For a brief moment the regular-season Kyle Busch showed up. What's surprising is that with nothing to lose, Busch hasn't shown better. Where did that dominance go?
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (finished 36th, -354 points): A lot of wrecked cars in the 88 hauler the last two weekends, none of which were the fault of Earnhardt Jr. Even still, he wasn't going to win the championship this year, that's for sure.
11. Matt Kenseth (finished 41st, -360 points): Bad luck continues for Kenseth, who again was caught in a wreck that he didn't cause. When this season is over, Kenseth will forget it and never talk of it again.
12. Denny Hamlin (finished 16th, -380 points): Have to wonder if Hamlin was suffering from the lingering effects of the hard wreck at Talladega. Like Kenseth, Hamlin can't wait for this season to end and look forward to a fresh start.
- Jeff Burton
- Greg Biffle