An exciting finish at the Quaker State 400 has led to a shift at the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings.
Brad Keselowski will move up to fourth place after his impressive win at Kentucky on Saturday, climbing up from his previous spot of fifth. Still, Jeff Gordon remains in first place with 618 points and a 24-point lead over both Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Things were not as good for rookie Kyle Larson, who dropped two spots to No. 12 after ending his day in 40th place, totaling just 75 laps before ending his day.
Here is a look at the latest standings in the Chase for the Sprint Cup as of June 28, via NASCAR.com:
|3||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||88||594||-24||2|
The Quaker State 400 featured plenty of excitement from start to finish, but it was clearly Keselowski who dominated the competition. He led for 199 of the 267 laps and came away with an easy win when all was said and done.
While he did lose the lead a few times during the race, he showed off his skill while passing Joey Logano around the midway point, via ESPN:
Keselowski sails past Logano for the lead on Lap 148. Clearly the best car here all weekend.— NASCAR on ESPN (@ESPNNASCAR) June 29, 2014
However, Kyle Busch built up a big lead as the race started to come to a close, according to Jeff Gluck of USA Today:
Brad Keselowski is in second place, 1.9 seconds behind race leader Kyle Busch. He's slowly catching him with 35 laps to go.— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) June 29, 2014
Once again, though, Keselowski was able to take over the lead and close out a strong performance:
After the win, the 2012 champion discussed his plans going forward this season:
"I really want another championship," @keselowski says in VL— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) June 29, 2014
If he can perform the way he did in Kentucky, Keselowski certainly has a good chance. Of course, he will still have tough challenges like he did Saturday from Busch, who finished in third place. Darrell Waltrip of Fox Sports discussed the strong efforts from those who did not earn the checkered flag:
This result really makes things interesting heading into the last couple of months before the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. There are nine races remaining before the cutoff, with only 16 drivers getting one of the elusive spots.
Obviously, big-name competitors like Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin will have to look to get better in the coming weeks if they want a chance at the title.
Here is a breakdown of the upcoming races for the remainder of the 2014 season:
|July 5||Coke Zero 400||Daytona International Speedway||7:30 p.m.||TNT|
|July 13||Camping World RV Sales 301||New Hampshire Motor Speedway||1 p.m.||TNT|
|July 27||The John Wayne Walding 400 at The Brickyard||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Aug 3||GoBowling.com 400||Pocono Speedway||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Aug 10||Cheez-It 355 at The Glen||Watkins Glen International||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Aug 17||Pure Michigan 400||Michigan International Speedway||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Aug 23||Irwin Tools Night Race||Bristol Motor Speedway||7:30 p.m.||ABC|
|Aug 31||NASCAR Sprint Cup Series August Atlanta Race||Atlanta Motor Speedway||7:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sept 6||Federated Auto Parts 400||Richmond International Speedway||7:30 p.m.||ABC|
|Chase for the Cup|
|Sept 14||NASCAR Sprint Cup Series September Chicagoland Race||Chicagoland Speedway||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sept 21||Sylvania 300||New Hampshire Motor Speedway||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sept 28||AAA 400||Dover International Speedway||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Oct 5||Hollywood Casino 400||Kansas Speedway||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Oct 11||Bank of America 500||Charlotte Motor Speedway||7:30 p.m.||ABC|
|Oct 19||GEICO 500||Talladega Superspeedway||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Oct 26||Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500||Martinsville Speedway||1:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Nov 2||AAA Texas 500||Texas Motor Speedway||3 p.m.||ESPN|
|Nov 9||Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500||Phoenix International Raceway||3 p.m.||ESPN|
|Nov 16||Ford Ecoboost 400||Homestead-Miami Speedway||3 p.m.||ESPN|
Next week's race is a big one, as it will take place at the famed Daytona International Speedway. The Coke Zero 400 will help separate the true contenders from those who cannot handle the difficult course.
Earnhardt was able to win the Daytona 500 earlier in the year, and he will hope to replicate his success the next time out.
That race will be followed by a trip to the Northeast at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. With a total of nine events remaining to make an impact on the standings, the pressure is certain to rise in the coming weeks.
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