Talladega is in the books for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and, as my colleague Jerry Bonkowski noted immediately after the race, there wasn’t a ton of movement in the standings.
Doesn’t mean there aren’t trends, though. Here’s where things sit with 10 of 26 regular season races in the books:
AND HAMLIN MAKES EIGHT
Basically, half the 16-driver Chase field is already set with Denny Hamlin joining the seven other winners thus far this season. And how relieving is this for Hamlin? After his nightmare 2013, he can now afford to experiment in the remaining regular season rounds while Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth, who’s been excellent but unlucky thus far in 2014, is still yet to get on the scoreboard.
BIFFLE, BOWYER SURGING
Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer aren’t in the winners’ column yet, but trending upward after a solid last few weeks.
For “The Biff,” three top-six finishes in the last four races, including second on Sunday in Talladega, have vaulted him from 18th in the standings up to eighth.
Meanwhile for Bowyer, who had a banner Monday in announcing both a new baby and a new contract extension, he’s climbed five positions in the last five races to 18th with four top-12 results. Combined with Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Brian Vickers, who’s 10th in points, this team might be starting to hit its stride.
SNEAKY GOOD LAST FEW WEEKS FOR ‘DINGER
The single-car JTG Daugherty team has delivered back-to-back top-six results courtesy of AJ Allmendinger, and the driver of the No. 47 Chevrolet is up to a season-best 15th in points. If you’re looking for a possible surprise race winner over the next several weeks, this could be the guy, as Allmendinger’s coming back to form after the post-Penske fallout of 2012 and his reclamation project bouncing between teams, cars and series last year.
THE STEWART-HAAS QUARTET IS ALMOST ALL OUTSIDE THE TOP 20
As we’ve written before, it’s a good thing both Kevin Harvick (19th in points) and Kurt Busch (27th) already have wins in the bag because the rest of the Stewart-Haas Racing team’s results this year have not justified how well they’ve run.
Stewart got caught up in the Lap 136 crash at Talladega and registered a 43rd and last place finish; that dropped him from 15th to 21st in points. And at a restrictor plate track, where you’d expect her to do well, Danica Patrick was involved in a wreck as well, and ended 22nd. She sits 29th in the standings.
POINTS: Through 10 of 26 races