Sprint Cup Chase 2014: NASCAR Standings and Schedule After GoBowling.com 400

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2014

LONG POND, PA - AUGUST 03:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Dale Earnhardt Jr. seized his third checkered flag of the season and completed the sweep at Pocono Raceway Sunday at the GoBowling.com 400 to assume the lead in the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup.

It was a historical feat indeed for Earnhardt, as Jim Utter of The Charlotte Observer details:

NASCAR's Twitter account captured the special moment:

ESPN provided Earnhardt's immediate reaction to the result:

Kevin Harvick followed close behind in second place and as a result has essentially secured himself a spot in the coveted Chase. He and Earnhardt actually headline a list of contenders that continues to grow by the event:

Here is a look at the top 10 finishers from Sunday's action:

Pos. Driver Laps Led
1 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 14
2 Kevin Harvick 5
3 Joey Logano 30
4 Clint Bowyer 0
5 Greg Biffle 11
6 Jeff Gordon 63
7 Jamie McMurray 0
8 Ryan Newman 0
9 Denny Hamlin 0
10 Kasey Kahne 0

Full results can be found at NASCAR.com.

Below is a look at the updated standings, a breakdown of Sunday's most notable results and a look ahead to what is already shaping up to be a wildly entertaining Chase.

2014 Sprint Cup Series Driver Standings

Pos. Driver Points
1Jeff Gordon757
2Dale Earnhardt Jr.740
3Brad Keselowski687
4Matt Kenseth668
5Ryan Newman642
6Jimmie Johnson633
Joey Logano633
8Carl Edwards618
9Clint Bowyer617
10Kyle Busch611
Source: NASCAR.com

2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase Grid

Pos. Driver Points Wins Top 5 Top 10
1Dale Earnhardt Jr.74031015
2Brad Keselowski6873910
3Jimmie Johnson6333612
4Jeff Gordon7572715
5Joey Logano6332811
6Carl Edwards618248
7Kevin Harvick6082610
8Kyle Busch611169
9Denny Hamlin532159
10Aric Almirola506124
11Kurt Busch488144
12Matt Kenseth6680813
13Ryan Newman642028
14Clint Bowyer617039
15Kyle Larson595049
16Greg Biffle590036
Source: NASCAR.com

Analyzing Notable Finishers

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

LONG POND, PA - AUGUST 03:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

As if the above historical implications are not enough, it is also imperative to note that Earnhardt's third win of the season bodes well based on past performances, as illustrated by ESPN Stats & Info:

He started in ninth place Sunday and led just 15 laps overall, but like always, Earnhardt showed off his knack for finishing strong as the entire field was tasked with weaving through late caution flags. He grabbed the lead away from Greg Biffle with 14 laps to go and never looked back.

That said, he also told the media that he was actually pushing too hard near the end: 

Earnhardt's other non-Pocono win this season is, of course, the triumph back in February at the Daytona 500.

He is far and away the driver to beat at this point, although another victory outside of his current Pennsylvania stomping grounds would be a good way to keep his momentum strong as the season winds down.

Jimmie Johnson

LONG POND, PA - AUGUST 03:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

It was all going so well for Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson and his crew worked hard to overcome an early deficit after his car hit the wall, and even climbed as high as 11 seconds off the lead, but a blown tire ended his day for good.


Fox Sports recorded some of the audio as JJ headed to the garage for a final time:

The driver himself took to Twitter to talk to fans about his summer woes:

In his past five starts, Johnson has finished no better than 10th place, with a pair of 42nd-place finishes to boot. It has been a far cry from his elite form that began in early May and eventually saw him tally three first-place finishes in four races, beginning in Charlotte and ending in Michigan.

Johnson has essentially already clinched his spot in the Chase, as have names such as Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano. But if his current form is any indication, he may struggle once there if things do not take a turn for the better.

Paul Menard and Kyle Busch

LONG POND, PA - AUGUST 03:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, leads Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.
Elsa/Getty Images

Talk about two guys who entered with a ton to gain Sunday but wound up somewhat backtracking thanks to downright bad luck.

Kyle Busch started the day in the top 10 in the Sprint Cup Standings and in the seventh spot overall on the day's event, but he lasted all of 24 laps before his engine blew out and ended his day.

A gloomy quote, via Kelly Crandall of Popular Speed, is all that needs to be said on the matter: 

Busch, who has finished in the runner-up position in three of his last five starts, will have to wait to potentially move up in the standings as a result.

For Paul Menard, the day was even worse.

The owner of 551 points and sitting just outside of the cutoff line entering Sunday's festivities, Menard was involved in a 13-car pileup late in the event with other names such as Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart.


The latter's car actually wound up on top of Menard's, as this note from Dustin Long of Motor Racing Network illustrates:

On a more somber wavelength, though, Bob Pockrass of Sporting News points out what a putrid two weeks it has been for a driver riding very much on the edge:

Like all the drivers in Sunday's action, Menard now turns his attention to the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen that rests a week away.

Marcos Ambrose, representing Richard Petty Motorsports, has won two out of the last three at the event. But in an interesting twist, it was Busch who won the event last year. He will need to do so again in order to further distance himself from the pack.

No matter who emerges victorious in New York at one of the schedule's two road-course races, it is sure to be an entertaining affair for fans that does much to sort the contenders from the pretenders as the season hits the home stretch.

2014 NASCAR Schedule After Brickyard 400

Date Time Race TV Info
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

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