ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Who's on track: Breaking down the top 12 after Texas

Hello, Jeff Burton. Goodbye, Kevin Harvick. The swap of Richard Childress Racing drivers was the only change in the top 12 of the Sprint Cup standings after Sunday's race at Texas Motor Speedway. Here's our weekly breakdown of the top 12.

Hello, Jeff Burton. Goodbye, Kevin Harvick. The swap of Richard Childress Racing drivers was the only change in the top 12 of the Sprint Cup standings after Sunday's race at Texas Motor Speedway. Here's our weekly breakdown of the top 12.

1. Jeff Gordon, 1,154 points. Gordon has been strong in all seven races this season, and he finally broke through and got a win. It won't be his last in 2009. The only question for Gordon is how many bonus points he'll accrue for the Chase.

2. Jimmie Johnson, 992. No team makes adjustments like the 48. When the fourth caution came less than 10 laps after the third, it was like giving a power hitter another swing after a dropped third strike. With each caution down the stretch, Chad Knaus made the 48 that much better. Johnson took it from there and finished a fast-closing second.

3. Kurt Busch, 974. On a day "we couldn't run with the big dogs," Busch scored his first top 10 since winning at Atlanta a month ago. Being able to make something out of nothing is a good sign for the No. 2 team. Busch didn't get his fourth top 10 last year until the 18th race.

4. Clint Bowyer, 967. The No. 33 team couldn't zero-in on the right setup, and Bowyer finished 22nd, a lap down. What makes Bowyer so effective is that even on his bad days, he has a decent finish. He has not finished worse than 23rd since a 26th-place finish at Michigan last June. That's a stretch of 28 races.

ADVERTISEMENT

5. Tony Stewart, 963. Stewart finished fourth Sunday, and Smoke summed up his day this way: "The car owner is happy, the driver is ticked off." Stewart felt he should have contented for Stewart-Haas' first win. The No. 14 team had issues in the pits early, but that didn't cost Stewart a higher finish. Stewart said his car needed more kick earlier in its runs.

6. Denny Hamlin, 938. Hamlin damaged his car entering the pits for a green-flag stop, and that sealed his fate. Still, he managed a 12th-place finish. Next stop is Phoenix, where Hamlin has finished in the top five in four of the past five races.

7. Kyle Busch, 914. Three mistakes on pit road and a brush with John Andretti sank Busch. He still battled back to finish 18th. But, if this had been the Chase ... Put it this way, the No. 18 team has 19 more races to get days like Sunday out of its system.

8. Carl Edwards, 889. Pit-road problems Sunday were as prevalent as toothless smiles at a hockey camp. Edwards was a victim as were Roush Fenway Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle. Edwards' was the most glaring because he lost the lead late and restarted 11th after the mishap in the 99 pits. He finished 10th. Like the No. 18 team, the No. 99 has 19 more races to fix the problem.

9. Matt Kenseth, 864. When the Killer Bees make a mistake you know something is amiss. It likely was an issue with the glue holding the lug nuts on the tires, which was an issue in Biffle's and possibly Edwards' pits, too. Kenseth still finished fifth for his first top 10 since starting the season with two wins.

10. Kasey Kahne, 851. Kahne's pit-road tale of woe wasn't anything he or his team did wrong. A caution came out moments after Kahne completed a green-flag stop, and he never got his lap back and finished 19th, the second car a lap back. It was the second week in a row Kahne finished 19th and the second week in a row he has dropped in the standings. Not a good sign.

11. David Reutimann, 845. Reutimann is in the top 12 for the sixth straight week and is not only emulating the regulars with his driving, but also by messing up in the pits. On Sunday, he overshot his pit stall and was penalized a lap. Like Busch, he spent the rest of the race trying to get back on the lead lap. Reutimann did and finished 11th. The No. 00 has the least margin for error among all teams in the top 12. It must eliminate these kinds of mistakes.

12. Jeff Burton, 835. A year ago, Burton was first in the standings. One year later he is making his first appearance in the top 12. Burton has returned to the top with five consecutive top 15s since starting the season with finishes of 28th and 32nd. Last year, Burton began the season with 17 straight top-15 finishes.

What To Read Next
Three-day Ski de She camp and clinic in Cable will include Olympic champion Kikkan Randall.
Local bowling scores.
Both teams are 8-8 and have a chance at grabbing a playoff berth on Sunday Night Football.
Green Bay's demolition of the Vikings puts the Packers in control of their own destiny in Week 18.