NASCAR points observations through 10 races

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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

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”