From the Marbles - NASCAR

We've only got a handful of races left in the season, and the championship picture is starting to clear up. So let's sort the contenders from the pretenders.

Current standings (movement): Jimmie Johnson (+1), Mark Martin (-1), Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon (+2), Kurt Busch (-1), Greg Biffle (+1), Carl Edwards (+2), Denny Hamlin (-3), Ryan Newman (-1), Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers.

Who's up: Jimmie Johnson leaped up into the top spot, and he may well never surrender it again. Still, Hendrickmates Martin, Gordon and Stewart are within 100 points, as is perennial bridesmaid Juan Pablo Montoya, who's using this Chase as his personal debutante ball. Gordon was the big mover of the bunch; a second straight second place finish will do that for you. Carl Edwards also jumped up two places, but really, nobody cares. Sorry, Carl.

Who's down: Denny Hamlin's late-race wreck put him all but totally out of the Chase. And Kurt Busch lost ground by standing still. Kasey Kahne lost whatever possible chance he might have had to make some noise in the Chase with his own infamous crash. Everybody else stays the same -- looking up at the 48.

Outlook: It's not over yet, certainly. One bad wreck -- as Kahne proved -- could drop Jimmie down to third or fourth in a hurry. And Martin, Montoya, Smoke and Gordon aren't giving up. Question is, can they run down Jimmie?

All right, you're up. What's your take on the Chase? Go!

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