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Feudin', Fightin' and First-Time Winnin' in Darlington
1. Carl Edwards Calm and cool in the chaos that was the conclusion of the Southern 500, Edwards rolls to a runner-up showing, his eighth finish of sixth or better this season. Congrats on the kid, by the way.
2. Kyle Busch I always knew the “New Kyle Busch” was one late-race dust-up away from reverting back to, well, “Same Ol’ Kyle Busch.”
3. Jimmie Johnson Some don’t recognize it, but Johnson is willing to get physical on-track when he feels he’s been wronged. Mr. Montoya, prepared to get roughed up.
4. Kevin Harvick Did anyone else notice that Harvick didn’t make a move on Kyle Busch on pit road (or in the garage area) until his team showed up? I mentioned this because that’s not the first time it’s happened.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Was pit-road cone away from another top 10. Still, Junior and the boys kept their wits about them and finished with a lead-lap, top-15 run.
6. Clint Bowyer One of the hotter drivers on the circuit, Bowyer looked to have another top 5 in hand until he got swept up in Round 1 of Busch vs. Harvick.
7. Denny Hamlin Lost amid a wacky Darlington finish was Hamlin’s sixth-place finish. For those who thought he was done, a quick scan of the point standings find him only 19 markers out of 10th.
8. Ryan Newman Word is he punched Juan Pablo Montoya in the NASCAR hauler at Darlington. Bet he got a better shot in than Harvick did on Rowdy.
9. Kasey Kahne Sat on the pole and led a race-high 124 laps at Darlington but settled for fourth by night’s end. This team has a win coming pretty soon.
10. Tony Stewart For about the fourth time this season, Stewart lined up at the front of the field for a late-race restart. And for about the fourth time this year, Stewart couldn’t take advantage.
11. Jeff Gordon Gordon’s roller coaster season continues. That Phoenix win is looking good for the Chase, though.
12. Greg Biffle Biffle is climbing the ladder with six top 15s in the last seven races.
13. Matt Kenseth Hasn’t sniffed the top 10 since his Texas win four races ago.
14. Kurt Busch Being the only factory-backed Dodge operation has its benefits and banes.
15. Mark Martin Despite leading only one lap this season, Martin still sits on the edge of Chase inclusion.
Just off the lead pack: AJ Allmendinger, Paul Menard, David Ragan, Regan Smith, Martin Truex Jr.