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After taking the checkered flag at Texas Motor Speedway, Denny Hamlin declared, "It's on."
Actually, it already was. Now it's just more on.
Here is a look at how the 12 Chase drivers fared in Race No. 8 of the Chase on Sunday at Texas:
1. Denny Hamlin – Finished 1st: He wasn't good until the end, but that's when it counts, right? If Hamlin wasn't in the driver's seat before, he is now. He could very well win the final two races of the season. (-)
2. Jimmie Johnson – Finished 9th: Johnson buttered his bread on the intermediate tracks en route to his four titles. This season, however, he hasn't been as strong on them. That was evident Sunday. For the first time in his four-year reign, Johnson trails heading to Phoenix. (-33 points)
3. Kevin Harvick – Finished 6th: As it turns out, you probably have to win a race in order to win the Chase. Harvick was good again, just not good enough. His deficit actually grew by 21 points despite finishing sixth. (-59 points)
4. Carl Edwards – Finished 19th: Here's how all-over-the-place this Chase has been for everyone outside the top-three drivers: Edwards finishes 19th and actually moves up a spot in the standings. (-317 points)
5. Matt Kenseth – Finished 2nd: Maybe the best run of the season for Kenseth, who had the lead with two laps to go, but one slip allowed Hamlin to get by. Is he really fifth in the standings? (-325 points)
6. Jeff Gordon – Finished 37th: Have never seen Gordon that livid – which he was for good reason. Jeff Burton might not have intended to wreck him, but Gordon went nose-first into the wall at a considerable rate of speed. Gordon should have been ticked. (-331 points)
7. Kyle Busch – Finished 32nd: The only person hotter than Gordon was Busch, who flipped off a NASCAR official after being penalized for speeding on pit road. Busch didn't agree with the call and let NASCAR know it. (-339 points)
8. Tony Stewart – Finished 11th: Finished near the top 10, though he was hardly a top-10 driver most of the day. (-363 points)
9. Greg Biffle – Finished 5th: Was the class of the field most of the day, leading a race-high 223 laps. But a transmission issue on the final pit stop cost him first and second gear, as well as the win. (-372 points)
10. Clint Bowyer – Finished 7th: If the goal was to get inside the top 10, he's there, and he's not done yet. Bowyer could very easily finish in the top four, which would be amazing considering the 150-point penalty he incurred. (-397 points)
11. Kurt Busch – Finished 30th: Was so upset with how his car was handling that he called his team "stupid." Yep, they're ready for the season to be over. (-435 points)
12. Jeff Burton – Finished 40th: Was a class act in taking responsibility for wrecking Gordon. And though Gordon wasn't buying it, Burton showed the kind of stand-up guy he is. (-473 points)
- Denny Hamlin
- Texas Motor Speedway