NASCAR points observations through four races

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Hard to believe but we’re already a full month into the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. And while points aren’t of the same magnitude in years past, with wins counting more in terms of punching Chase tickets, they still matter.

Here’s a few observations of those in great, good, and not-so-good shape through four rounds (last week’s linked here).

IN GREAT SHAPE

Add Bristol winner Carl Edwards to the list that includes Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. And as the only driver with four top-10s in four races, Jeff Gordon is off to a phenomenal start as well in his elusive, seemingly eternal “drive for five.”

OFF AND RUNNING

Those from fifth through 11th in points – Jimmie Johnson down to Kasey Kahne – are in good shape. With second on Sunday night in Bristol, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is on a mission too. He’s driving like a man possessed and has already made key strides through the opening month of the season in his second year for Roush Fenway Racing; he’s currently 10th in points. Could he be NASCAR’s next first-time winner?

Additionally, how cool is it that Stenhouse, in the 17, and Aric Almirola, in the 43 were battling in the top three at Bristol? Two of NASCAR’s iconic numbers in contention at one of its most iconic tracks was a nice modern day throwback.

CLOSE, BUT NOT THERE YET

The group P12-23 have all had at least one really good run but not a string as yet. Big names here include Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart and rookie Kyle Larson among others.

MORE WORK TO DO

Through four races, those big names without a top-10 finish include Clint Bowyer, AJ Allmendinger, Martin Truex Jr., Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch. For Kurt, it has just not been the start he needed to his new relationship with Stewart-Haas Racing, despite running well at times. Same story for Truex, now in the Furniture Row 78 car.

POINTS: Through 4 of 26 regular season races.