A big McWin, an even bigger rebound
by Matt Taliaferro
1. Jimmie Johnson Not even a self-induced spin at Charlotte could keep Johnson from notching his fourth consecutive top-three finish. Seriously, he’s not a robot, is he?
2. Denny Hamlin Hamlin is doing his best to keep pace, but while Johnson clicks off top-three runs, Hamlin is more in the fourth- to 12th-place range.
3. Kevin Harvick Harvick is averaging a 7.6-place finish in the Chase and still finds himself in a 77-point hole.
4. Kyle Busch Red hot for five races, out to lunch for two and then back in the game with a strong runner-up showing in Charlotte. It’s really hard to figure this kid out.
5. Tony Stewart Stewart gained 60 points on Johnson in Kansas and California only to lose 70 in a forgettable performance in Charlotte. Time to start testing for next year, Tony.
6. Jeff Gordon Gordon’s Chase hopes came tumbling down in Charlotte, too, courtesy of a faulty alternator and a pit-road speeding violation.
7. Greg Biffle It’s feast or famine for Biffle, who carries the hopes and dreams of teenagers with braces with him each week.
8. Carl Edwards Edwards has led only 10 laps in the Chase, which is actually better than Hamlin, who finally led his one and only in Charlotte last weekend.
9. Clint Bowyer His sponsor, Hamburger Helper, would be wise to devise a product for Bowyer called Racecar Helper after that 17th in Charlotte.
10. Matt Kenseth Speaking of sponsorship, you have to wonder how much Kenseth’s switch from DeWalt to Crown Royal this year is helping (or hurting) the team.
11. Jeff Burton At least he’s good for a Friday afternoon opoinion these days.
12. Jamie McMurray First at Daytona, Indianapolis and Charlotte; second at Talladega, Darlington and in the 600. Ya just gotta love the big money attitude this team has.
13. Kurt Busch That May win in Charlotte seems like years ago ... and with a different team.
14. Joey Logano Logano sticks his nose in the top 10 just enough so that you don’t forget about him.
15. David Reutimann "The Franchise" seems to have a knack for the big intermediates, which should serve him well if he can find some consistency.
Just off the lead pack: AJ Allmendinger, Mark Martin, Paul Menard, Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr.