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

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJuly 27, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 27:  Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

Sunday's 2014 edition of the prestigious Brickyard 400 saw Jeff Gordon drive to Victory Lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR on ESPN noted how long the span has been for Gordon's numerous wins in this race:

As a consequence of his latest Brickyard 400 win, Gordon moved from seventh to third in the Chase standings. His No. 24 car continues to perform better than anyone's on a consistent basis.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. entered this race just 12 points behind Gordon in the driver standings, but he faced an uphill battle after he qualified 23rd and settled for ninth place. Ryan Newman won the Brickyard 400 last year, yet he couldn't capitalize on his strong fourth starting position to mount a legitimate defense, placing 11th.

There was good news to be had for Gordon, legendary champion Jimmie Johnson and young star Joey Logano too:

Here is a look at the updated standings following another excellent NASCAR showcase, followed by a more detailed analysis on particular drivers and a look ahead at next week's action.


2014 Sprint Cup Series Driver Standings
Pos. Driver Points
1 Jeff Gordon 717
2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 693
3 Brad Keselowski 666
4 Matt Kenseth 661
5 Jimmie Johnson 628
6 Kyle Busch 609
7 Ryan Newman 606
8 Carl Edwards 603
9 Joey Logano 591
10 Clint Bowyer 577
Source: NASCAR.com


2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase Grid
Pos. Driver Points Wins Top 5 Top 10
1 Brad Keselowski 666 3 9 10
2 Jimmie Johnson 628 3 6 12
3 Jeff Gordon 717 2 7 14
4 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 693 2 9 14
5 Carl Edwards 603 2 4 8
6 Joey Logano 591 2 7 10
7 Kevin Harvick 565 2 5 9
8 Kyle Busch 609 1 6 9
9 Denny Hamlin 572 1 5 8
10 Aric Almirola 496 1 2 4
11 Kurt Busch 456 1 4 4
12 Matt Kenseth 661 0 8 13
13 Ryan Newman 606 0 2 7
14 Clint Bowyer 577 0 2 8
15 Kyle Larson 562 0 4 9
16 Austin Dillon 559 0 1 3
Source: NASCAR.com


Analyzing Notable Finishers

Jeff Gordon

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 27:  Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, participates in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 201
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

A dream season continues as Gordon seeks his first NASCAR championship since 2001. This was his 14th top-10 result in 20 starts but only his second win of the year.

Many strong races weren't producing checkered flags as of late. Now, Gordon is in an ideal position for the Chase coming off his fifth Brickyard 400 victory.

With 17 laps to go, Gordon got out to a sensational restart, passing teammate Kasey Kahne to take the lead immediately. Crew Chief Alan Gustafson communicated to the driver how critical the final stretch would be; Gordon understood:

Executing to the extend that Gordon did is a different matter entirely. The veteran showed off his superior experience, maintaining patience and inching toward the front throughout, managing to make up ground on restarts after falling back from his second-place starting spot.

Matt Willis of ESPN highlighted one notable aspect about Hendrick Motorsports' dominance in the NASCAR realm:

NASCAR reporter Ryan O'Hara offered further context for Gordon's achievement:

Gordon has been embraced by the Indianapolis fans, and he has a lot of pride left despite an amazingly successful career to date. There are no signs of him slowing down.

The same goes for Hendrick Motorsports, whose top 2014 performer in Gordon overcame a gaggle of Joe Gibbs Racing stars to triumph. 


Kyle Busch

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 26:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Snickers Toyota, looks on from the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26,
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

There was no denying Gordon on this day. The sentimental favorite got a jump on the final restart and couldn't be had thereafter.

Busch acknowledged as much after the race, per Fox 59's Larry Hawley:

Curt Cavin of The Indianapolis Star weighed in on just how strong Gordon and Busch were running:

That may not be much consolation for Busch, though, because it was a familiar, first-to-lose spot at the finish line.

Credit Busch for starting outside the top 10 and still managing to nab his third runner-up finish in four races. Some circumstances outside of his control made his battle with Gordon all the more difficult, per Fox Sports: NASCAR:

It must be difficult for Busch to keep his head up amid so many close calls, but he still has a great chance to get into the Chase field of 16, with plenty more opportunities to redeem a strong overall car.


Matt Kenseth

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 26:  Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway o
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Still without a win in 2014, Kenseth continues to deliver week in and week out, though it has to be getting frustrating that he hasn't ultimately converted any of his chances to place first.

Nevertheless, it was necessary for Kenseth to get a strong result. Despite being fourth in the driver standings ahead of Sunday's race, he was slotted 12th in the Chase. That he didn't lead one lap makes it somewhat more impressive that Kenseth managed to finish fourth.

In an eerie parallel to Busch, this was Kenseth's third such result in his four most recent starts. It was a magnificent day for Joe Gibbs Racing too, as the organization saw its three drivers finish second, third and fourth.

It will be interesting to see how both Busch and Kenseth trend in the coming races, beginning with the GoBowling.com next week. If history is any indication, there could be some perilous times ahead for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Hendrick Motorsports has won the past two GoBowling.com 400s—Gordon in 2012 and Kahne in 2013. Kahne led the most laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, so he enters in fine form and will seek to build on the momentum he's just generated.

Plus, Johnson has won the impending race at Pocono in the past as well, giving Hendrick Motorsports three legitimate contenders.

All of those factors should allow Gordon to continue keeping a comfortable lead in the points, continuing to set up an epic story if he's able to win the Chase.

2014 NASCAR Schedule After Brickyard 400
Date Time Race TV Info
Sunday, August 3 1 p.m. ET GoBowling.com 400 ESPN
Sunday, August 10 1 p.m. ET Cheez-It 355 at The Glen ESPN
Sunday, August 17 1 p.m. ET Pure Michigan 400 ESPN
Saturday, August 23 7:30 p.m. ET Irwin Tools Night Race ESPN
Sunday, August 31 7:30 p.m. ET NASCAR Sprint Cup Series August Atlanta Race ESPN
Saturday, September 6 7:30 p.m. ET Federated Auto Parts 400 ABC
Sunday, September 14 2 p.m. ET NASCAR Sprint Cup Series September Chicagoland Race ESPN
Sunday, September 21 2 p.m. ET Sylvania 300 ESPN
Sunday, September 28 2 p.m. ET AAA 400 ESPN
Sunday, October 5 2 p.m. ET Hollywood Casino 400 ESPN
Saturday, October 11 7:30 p.m. ET Bank of America 500 ABC
Sunday, October 19 2 p.m. ET Geico 500 ESPN
Sunday, October 26 1:30 p.m. ET Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 ESPN
Sunday, November 2 3 p.m. ET AAA Texas 500 ESPN
Sunday, November 9 3 p.m. ET Quicken Loans Race For Heroes 500 ESPN
Sunday, November 16 3 p.m. ET Ford EcoBoost 400 ESPN
Source: NASCAR.com

Note: Statistics are courtesy of NASCAR.com unless otherwise indicated.


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