Sprint Cup Chase 2014: NASCAR Standings, Schedule After Irwin Tools Night Race

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2014

BRISTOL, TN - AUGUST 23:  Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

And the rich get richer. Joey Logano picked up his third win of the Sprint Cup season, finishing first at the Bristol Motor Speedway during Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race.

"Probably the coolest win of all time, winning at Bristol," said Logano, per USA Today's Jeff Gluck. "I've never won more than one race in a season before; now I've won three. ... This is one of the three biggest races of the year—the Bristol night race—so to see my name on the trophy is really cool."

Getting to Victory Lane for a third time in 2014 is a nice boost for Logano before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins. Although his place in the top 16 was already secured, adding a win this close to the last 10 races of the year helps build some nice momentum and strengthens his position in the points standings.

Other drivers aren't quite so lucky and still have it all to do in the next two races.

Here's a look at the top 16.

2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup Standings
1Jeff Gordon3845
2Dale Earnhardt Jr.3818
3Brad Keselowski3776
4Joey Logano3761
5Jimmie Johnson3726
6Kevin Harvick2721
7Carl Edwards2716
8Kyle Busch1629
9Denny Hamlin1594
10Kurt Busch1592
11AJ Allmendinger1586
12Aric Almirola1559
13Matt Kenseth0751
14Ryan Newman0710
15Clint Bowyer0699
16Greg Biffle0694

Only two more events remain until the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins.

2014 Sprint Cup Schedule—Aug. 31 and Beyond
Aug. 31Oral-B USA 500Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sep. 6Federated Auto Parts 400Richmond International Raceway
Chase for the Sprint Cup
Sep. 14MyAFibStory.com 400Chicagoland Speedway
Sep. 21Sylvania 300New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Sep. 28AAA 400Dover International Speedway
Oct. 5Hollywood Casino 400Kansas Speedway
Oct. 11Bank of America 500Charlotte Motor Speedway
Oct. 19GEICO 500Talladega Superspeedway
Oct. 26Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500Martinsville Speedway
Nov. 2AAA Texas 500Texas Motor Speedway
Nov. 9Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500Phoenix International Raceway
Nov. 16Ford EcoBoost 400Homestead-Miami Speedway

NASCAR on ESPN gave the lay of the land for those drivers still looking for their first checkered flag:

Jeff Gordon remains first after finishing 16th, which was likely a disappointment for the No. 24 car since Gordon started the race in second place. ESPN's Marty Smith said the four-time points champion used the word "humbling" to describe the race:

Gordon had a much better race than the guy directly below him, Dale Earnhardt Jr. An early wreck knocked Junior out of the race, and he had to settle for 39th.

Earnhardt was upset but introspective on Twitter after the race:

At least he knows that no matter what happens in the next two races, nothing will keep him out of the final Chase. That's a luxury not everybody can enjoy.

The drivers most in danger at the moment are Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle. Only five points separate the two, with Kyle Larson lurking 26 points back of Biffle and Kasey Kahne behind by 33. Kahne and Austin Dillon lost ground in the Chase after finishing 35th and 28th, respectively.

Having Logano win is a boost for both Bowyer and Biffle, considering at most two more drivers can possibly pick up their first wins in 2014 before the Chase begins.

Gluck believes that only a slim chance exists for Larson to sneak into the top 16:

Biffle did himself a big favor by earning his ninth top-10 finish of 2014. He collected 34 big points on Saturday night, ensuring that distance remained between himself and Larson.

Although Bowyer finished in 17th, he still got 27 points to hold onto 15th. He has a little more wiggle room than Biffle, so as long as he doesn't collapse over the next two weeks, the No. 15 car should be in the final Chase.

To his credit, Larson looked good at Bristol as well, ending up in 12th and getting 32 points. His race was even more impressive when you consider he started out in 40th and was involved in an accident early in the race.

Larson went on Twitter to thank his pit crew for salvaging what could've been a terrible race:

The new Chase format may have some critics, but few can argue that it doesn't add a ton of drama to the end of the season. Although the field looks to be largely set, the next two races could see somebody new sneak into the top 16.


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