Sprint Cup Chase 2014: NASCAR Standings and Schedule Following Auto Club 400

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IMarch 23, 2014

FONTANA, CA - MARCH 23:  Kyle Busch, driver of the
Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Kyle Busch entered Sunday's Auto Club 400 in a disappointing 14th place in the Sprint Cup standings following a miserable 29th-place finish at Bristol.

None of that matters anymore.    

The 28-year-old, who finished fourth in last year's Chase, erased his early-season struggles with a second consecutive win in Fontana. In fact, as NASCAR Stats on Twitter noted, Auto Club Speedway has long served as a favorite track for Busch:

NASCAR Stats also gives us a gander at the top 10:

Following the wild victory, which saw Busch survive a green-white-checkered finish while tire failures plagued a huge chunk of the field, he is still only in seventh place in the standings. But again, it doesn't matter, as the win all but assures him a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup in the new format.  

Let's take a look at the updated Sprint Cup standings, followed by the upcoming schedule:

2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings (After Auto Club 400)
1Carl EdwardsRoush Fenway Racing186Yes
2Dale Earnhardt Jr.Hendrick Motorsports185Yes
3Jeff GordonHendrick Motorsports184No
4Brad KeselowskiTeam Penske182Yes
5Matt KensethJoe Gibbs Racing179No
6Jimmie JohnsonHendrick Motorsports165No
7Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs Racing158Yes
8Ryan NewmanRichard Childress Racing150No
9Austin DillonRichard Childress Racing150No
10Joey LoganoTeam Penske146No
Upcoming Sprint Cup Schedule
RaceTrackDateTime (ET)Distance (Miles)2013 Winner
STP 500Martinsville SpeedwaySun, March 301 p.m.263Jimmie Johnson
Duck Commander 500Texas Motor SpeedwaySun, April 63 p.m.501Kyle Busch
Bojangles' Southern 500Darlington RacewaySat, April 126:30 p.m.501.322Matt Kenseth
Toyota Owners 400Richmond International RacewaySat, April 267 p.m.300Kevin Harvick
Aaron's 499Talladega SuperspeedwaySun, May 41 p.m.500.08David Ragan
Kansas 400Kansas SpeedwaySat, May 107:30 p.m.400.5Matt Kenseth
NASCAR Sprint All-Star RaceCharlotte Motor SpeedwaySat, May 179 p.m.135Jimmie Johnson
Coca-Cola 600Charlotte Motor SpeedwaySun, May 256 p.m.600Kevin Harvick

 A 10th-place finish for Carl Edwards, who won at Bristol last week, has vaulted him into first place in the standings, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains in second after crossing the finish line 12th. 

Both individuals have a win, however, while Jeff Gordon sits in third as the highest-ranked driver so far without a victory. 

Considering his start, Gordon has flown a little bit too far under the radar so far this season. He was the only driver in the field to tally top-10 finishes through the first four races, and in Fontana, he held a late lead before a caution on Lap 198 pushed him back to 13th place. 

With Brad Keselowski, the winner of the Kobalt Tools 400, in fourth place, the closest winless drivers to Gordon remain Matt Kenseth (fifth), Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson (sixth) and Austin Dillon (eighth). 

Rookie Kyle Larson, who now has two straight top-10 finishes after coming in second, is up to 15th place and an intriguing name to watch for Chip Ganassi Racing as we move forward. 

Drivers head to Martinsville next Sunday for the STP 500. Johnson and Gordon, who have each won that race three times in their career, both boast eight victories at Martinsville, meaning Hendrick Motorsports' early success may very well continue. 

But as Busch showed on Sunday, drivers who haven't fared as well this season can turn things around with just one race.