by Matt Taliaferro
1. Jimmie Johnson Two runner-up finishes in the last three races but no wins since Talladega in April. It’s almost Chase time, though, and Johnson finds himself leading the pack (albeit in a controlled four-wheel drift) as September begins. Surprise, surprise.
9. Kurt Busch Like the little girl with the curl, Kurt can be very, very good or very, very bad. Problem is, that doesn’t translate into Chase success.
10. Kevin Harvick After back-to-back 22nd-place finishes, Harvick and the boys rebound with a respectable seventh at AMS. Still, something is amiss here.
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. He’ll probably make the Chase, but at this rate that’s about all you can expect.
12. Tony Stewart Finally broke out of a nasty slump with a big third-place showing at Atlanta. More should follow. Should.
13. Martin Truex Jr. He keeps showing flashes of brilliance but just can’t finish like the big boys.
14. AJ Allmendinger Somehow ranks 13th in the standings. Probably because that’s about where he finishes each week.
15. Clint Bowyer If you were at work, YouTube his comments about Juan Pablo Montoya. Classic.
Just off the lead pack: Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Paul Menard
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