NASCAR points observations through six races

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Six of 26 races are in the books for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, and we’ve got six different winners after Kurt Busch won Sunday in Martinsville. Here’s where things stand in the points.

WIN AND YOU’RE IN

It’s Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and now Kurt Busch who have free reign to try whatever they want with the pressure off the rest of the season. This despite Harvick currently ranking 25th in points and Kurt Busch 20th, although he’s moved up substantially the last two weeks thanks to consecutive top-five finishes.

SO CLOSE TO BREAKING THROUGH IT’S NOT EVEN FUNNY

Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have been the three dominant drivers in the last three races, and have a combined zero wins between them thanks to myriad things (contact and tires) conspiring against them. Kenseth ranks second, Gordon fourth and Johnson fifth. They are so close to becoming the next winner that inevitably one of the three will do so soon.

CONSISTENT-ISH

Joey Logano and Paul Menard each have three top-10s and rank eighth and 11th in points; this list of drivers have two top-10s: Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Marcos Ambrose, Tony Stewart, Kyle Larson. Austin Dillon has only one but with only one finish worse than 16th in six races, he ranks ninth, and leads all rookies. Positions 15-26 are separated by only 18 total points after Martinsville and change with regularity.

SOMEONE PLEASE SAVE TRUEX, KLIGERMAN

Martin Truex Jr. and Parker Kligerman have to be asking what on earth they’ve done to piss off the racing gods. Truex has banked 105 points only in six races, with 14th at Las Vegas his only top-20 finish. Kligerman, of Swan Racing, has just 36 points off six races, thanks to what could be the worst statistical start to a season in Cup history. His finishes? 29th, 42nd, 40th, 34th, 42nd, 41st. And no, he’s not looking to start-and-park. This is just down to his poor luck.

POINTS: Through 6 of 26 regular-season races.

ARCHIVES: Race 5, Race 4, Race 3

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III