Sprint Cup Chase 2014: NASCAR Standings and Schedule After FedEx 400

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2014

Jimmie Johnson drives during the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race, Sunday, June 1, 2014, at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
Molly Riley/Associated Press

Jimmie Johnson raced to victory at the 2014 edition of the FedEx 400 on Sunday to help vault himself up the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings.

For the reigning Sprint Cup Series champion, the triumph is his second in a row after emerging victorious at the Coca-Cola 600 last weekend. Team Lowe's Racing captured the magnitude of Sunday's checkered flag:

Johnson—thanks to win No. 9 at Dover—is now the winningest driver at the track in history. As for his place in the standings, let's just say he is in the midst of a quality upswing:

2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Standings
Rank Driver Points Behind Wins
1Matt Kenseth 463-0
2Jeff Gordon 461 -21
3Carl Edwards 438-251
5Jimmie Johnson 436-272
5Dale Earnhardt Jr 429-341
6Joey Logano 414-492
7Kyle Busch 411-521
8Brad Keselowski 404-591
9Denny Hamlin 379-841
10Kyle Larson 377-86 0
NASCAR.com

*Check NASCAR.com for the full standings.

 

Noteworthy Finishes

Jimmie Johnson

DOVER, DE - JUNE 01:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, celebrates with champagne in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on June 1, 2014
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Let's get the top dog out of the way first.

The six-time and reigning champion needed 12 races this season to record his first victory, but, given his current form, it's hard to tell if Johnson will lose again.

Johnson stole the lead from Matt Kenseth about halfway through the proceedings on Sunday and never looked back. ESPN's Matt Willis puts into perspective the scope of Johnson's dominance at Dover:

Suffice it to say, Dover was pegged by many as the place Johnson was going to turn things around. The sport's most dominant racer did so a week in advance, and now he has to be the favorite to win it all, given his sheer dominance over a loaded field two weeks in a row.

 

Jeff Gordon

May 25, 2014; Concord, NC, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon (24) during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

What a horrible day for Jeff Gordon.

Not only did Gordon lose his No. 1 overall slot in the standings to Kenseth, thanks to his 15th-place finish, but retirement questions are also sure to only increase after a sloppy day.

Days before the race, Gordon admitted to reporters that back pain would cause him to consider retirement:

If I don’t stay loose and ice and do other things that keep me loose when I get to the race weekend, what happened could possibly occur again.

That’s the biggest thing I’m focused on, I’m not thinking or focusing on anything else (like retirement). I can tell you that if that happens many more times, I won’t have a choice.

Cue more frantic retirement talk.

Gordon has just one win on the season and is rapidly losing what was previously rather strong footing in the standings. If health truly turns out to be an issue while Johnson is just beginning his tear, Gordon may take a significant tumble in the coming weeks.

 

Matt Kenseth

DOVER, DE - JUNE 01:  Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on June 1, 2014 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Im
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Give credit to Kenseth—he has exactly zero wins on the season, but that has not stopped him from overtaking some of the best drivers in the sport on the leaderboard.

It's hard to blame Kenseth for only leading 17 laps on the day in the wake of Johnson's performance, especially when remembering he started 21st.

His lead after passing Kevin Harvick on lap No. 165 after a restart was brief, but glimpses of a contender in Kenseth were certainly apparent yet again. It's clear Kenseth will hang around in most races, but his ability to seal the deal will determine whether or not he can continue to hold the top spot on the leaderboard.

 

Remaining NASCAR Schedule

Schedule after FedEx 400
DateTimeRaceTV Info
Sunday, June 81 p.m. ETPocono 400TNT
Sunday, June 151 p.m. ETQuicken Loans 400TNT
Sunday, June 223 p.m. ETToyota - Save Mart 350TNT
Saturday, June 287:30 p.m. ETQuaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto PartsTNT
Saturday, July 57:30 p.m. ETCoke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-ColaTNT
Sunday, July 131 p.m. ETCamping World RV Sales 301TNT
Sunday, July 271 p.m. ETCrown Royal Presents You Hero's Name Here 400 at the BrickyardESPN
Sunday, August 31 p.m. ETGoBowling.com 400ESPN
Sunday, August 101 p.m. ETCheez-It 355 at The GlenESPN
Sunday, August 171 p.m. ETPure Michigan 400ESPN
Saturday, August 237:30 p.m. ETIrwin Tools Night RaceESPN
Sunday, August 317:30 p.m. ETNASCAR Sprint Cup Series August Atlanta RaceESPN
Saturday, September 67:30 p.m. ETFederated Auto Parts 400ABC
Sunday, September 142 p.m. ETNASCAR Sprint Cup Series September Chicagoland RaceESPN
Sunday, September 212 p.m. ET Sylvania 300ESPN
Sunday, September 282 p.m. ETAAA 400ESPN
Sunday, October 52 p.m. ETHollywood Casino 400ESPN
Saturday, October 117:30 p.m. ETBank of America 500ABC
Sunday, October 192 p.m. ETGeico 500ESPN
Sunday, October 261:30 p.m. ETGoody's Headache Relief Shot 500ESPN
Sunday, November 23 p.m. ETAAA Texas 500ESPN
Sunday, November 93 p.m. ETQuicken Loans Race For Heroes 500ESPN
Sunday, November 163 p.m. ETFord EcoBoost 400ESPN
NASCAR.com

 

Looking Ahead to Pocono

With Sunday out of the way, it's time to kick off a fan-favorite with the Pocono 400 race week:

Pocono is one of the unique events of the NASCAR calendar thanks to its strange three-turn layout. The Tricky Triangle has some slight changes this year, though, as executive vice president and COO Nick Igdalsky explains, via Kenny Bruce of NASCAR.com:

Hitting the curb bounces you out back to the right and back into traffic. So now they have a … viable escape route. It gives them an opportunity to run more comfortably and a few miles (per hour) faster. … It keeps the field a little tighter in (Turn) 2, which was the choke point. By doing that, hopefully that translates to more consistently closer finishes down the front straightaway.

While the impact of the changes to the unique course will have a currently undetermined effect on drivers, there is one constant: Johnson is the favorite by a long shot over the course of the 160 laps.

Johnson led 128 laps a year ago in Pennsylvania and cruised to an easy victory. Three in a row and another leap up the standings is certainly not out of the question, given Johnson's prior dominance of the track and current form.

 

Follow Chris_Roling on Twitter