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For all the Marbles
by Matt Taliaferro
1. Denny Hamlin Held onto that top spot in the standings despite a move that burned him at Phoenix. This title is truly his to lose now.
2. Jimmie Johnson Of course, Jimmie is still keeping pace, 15 points behind Hamlin and still very much alive. He hasn’t had to be great at Homestead for so long, it’s not clear just how good that 48 team is there.
3. Kevin Harvick Title Contender No. 3 said via Twitter this week that his team has received no respect from this media throughout the Chase, so ìto heck with them all.î Focus on the task at hand, Kevin.
4. Joey Logano Has improved his finish each of the last five weeks from seventh to sixth to fifth to fourth to third. Unfortunately, he’s going to run out of weeks. Unless the streak carries over to Daytona.
5. Greg Biffle Consecutive top-5 runs in the bag for Biffle with Homestead, a track he’s won on more than any other in the Cup Series, on tap.
6. Mark Martin When you can say that you expected more out of a guy after an eighth-place run, it should tell you how good a team like Martin’s No. 5 bunch is running as the season winds down.
7. Carl Edwards With Edwards’ long-overdue win now out of the way, all eyes are on Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon to get off the schnide.
8. Matt Kenseth Who would have thought a team like Kenseth’s, which limped into the Chase, would be ranked fifth going into the final race? Pay no mind to the 311-point deficit, of course.
9. Clint Bowyer And then there’s Bowyer, with two Chase wins and a hefty NASCAR penalty, that finds himself hopelessly mired in 11th.
10. Jeff Gordon The result of the now-infamous pit crew swap between Johnson and Gordon? Johnson finished fifth, Gordon 11th. That’s not much different than before, is it?
11. Ryan Newman Averaged a 22.6-place finish at Phoenix until this season, when he finished first and second.
12. Kyle Busch Another trip to Homestead on tap, another mail-it-in performance from Kyle.
13. Tony Stewart Hasn’t finished in the top 10 since his win in California over a month ago.
14. Jeff Burton Let’s hope Harvick respectfully declines if Burton offers to share his notes.
15. Jamie McMurray Would be cool to see JMac cap off a comeback season for the ages with a win in Homestead.
Just off the lead pack: AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya, David Reutimann
Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattTaliaferro