Rankings are updated every Monday of the NASCAR season.
Gordon led a race high 130 of the 500 laps Sunday, nearly adding a ninth win to his amazing record at Martinsville. In the end, he nearly sealed the deal, coming home second. He was a bit disappointed as a win assures him of getting into the final round, but with stellar runs like he had Sunday, he should have no problems moving into the final round at Homestead.
Newman has been quietly rattling off strong, consistent finishes in the Chase. He finished fifth last week and third Sunday. With his finishes since the Chase started, top-10s in the last four races, Newman is suddenly showing that he could be the guy to beat.
Logano fell from atop the standings this week, but don’t take that to mean he is out of it—far from it. He finished fifth Sunday. As strong as he has been in the Chase, don’t be surprised to see him visit victory lane at one of the next two races: Texas and Phoenix.
Kenseth looked like his Chase would take a big hit. On lap 228 his Toyota wheel-hopped into Turn 1, making contact with Kevin Harvick. He was able to continue and actually rally back for a decent sixth-place finish. He may need to avoid Harvick for the next few weeks, but Kenseth is still very much in it.
Hamlin struggled late in the going after leading 68 laps. Early on though, he looked like a contender. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t keep it together in the late going and had to settle for an eighth place.
Edwards has always had a hard time at Martinsville and Sunday was no exception. He never led a lap and at the end of the day struggled to a 20th place finish. Edwards will be in desperate need of a win with only two races to go to decide the four drivers that will race for it all.
Keselowski needed a good run. After a dramatic win last week at Talladega to barely make it in to the Eliminator round, he hoped to follow that win up with a strong run at Martinsville. He didn’t get it. First, he was penalized for speeding on pit road; then the axle in his Ford broke on lap 436, causing a massive crash that led to a red flag. The crew did make repairs and he got back out, but came home in a dismal 31st place 28 laps off the lead lap.
The driver nicknamed “Happy” was anything but on Sunday. After starting way back in 33rd, Harvick was making his way forward when on lap 228 contact with Kenseth sent him to the garage for lengthy repairs. He would return, but was many laps down and was scored exactly where he started, 33rd. The driver who was one of the favorites when the Chase started will now need a win if he hopes to advance.
About The Ranker:
Greg Engle is an Examiner.com writer and an award-winning columnist who has worked full time for the Sporting News and the NASCAR Wire Service—if you wanted to get any more inside the sport of NASCAR you’d have to wear a crash helmet. He has received bylines in hundreds of newspapers across the country on auto sports and has also been featured on NASCAR.com, ThatsRacin.com, ESPN and Fox Sports. His work can be found at Examiner.com.