After NAPA left Michael Waltrip Racing in the wake of the Richmond race-manipulation scandal, Martin Truex Jr. was able to make the best of a bad situation.
Because NAPA left, his full-time ride at MWR was gone. But Furniture Row Racing, who made the 2013 Chase with Kurt Busch, had an opening because Busch was heading to Stewart-Haas Racing. From one team penalized out of the Chase to one that made it? Not too bad at all.
However, that last sentence is not what we'd use to describe his 2014 season. Through a sixth of the Sprint Cup Series schedule, Truex is 28th in the points standings and his 21st place finish Sunday was his second-best of the season.
It wasn't without drama, too. Truex got together with Brad Keselowski – who seemed to be in the midst of everything Sunday – and spun around to cause a caution on lap 412. However, he stayed on the lead lap.
One spot below Truex in the standings is Danica Patrick, who looked poised for another solid finish after qualifying 10th at Martinsville, her highest non-restrictor plate start of her career.
Patrick, who finished 14th at California and 18th at Bristol, fell like a rock through the field as soon as the race began. While she stayed out of trouble (simply a statement of fact), she was an absolute nonfactor.
Other drivers in their neighborhood:
• Aric Almirola is 26th through six races despite finishing eighth Sunday and third at Bristol. How is that possible? Well, he finished 39th at Daytona and 43rd at California.
• While short tracks have been good to Almirola, they haven't been kind to Jamie McMurray. McMurray fell to 23rd in the standings after finishing 42nd at Martinsville when he made contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and crashed. At Bristol, McMurray finished 38th. In the other four races, his lowest finish is 14th.
• Kevin Harvick is staggeringly 25th. He's in good shape because of his Phoenix win, but if this was the old points format you'd have already seen innumerable articles asking if Harvick would make the Chase.
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