NASCAR Sprint Cup: Monstrous Shakeup in Chase Points at Round 3 in Dover

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2011

DOVER, DE - OCTOBER 02:  Kurt Busch, driver of the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, celebrates with girlfriend Patricia Driscoll in victory lane after Busch won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on October 2, 2011 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

Often the "Monster Mile" at Dover is known for devastating crashes that prove to be game changers for some drivers.

But the wild swing in points from the AAA 400 were purely the result of the teams involved.

Constant inconsistency in the points is much more evident under the new point system that makes each finishing position critical for drivers in the NASCAR Chase for the Cup.

The 2011 Chase will go down as one in which a driver is unable to remain dominant for all 10 of the  races and the winner of the title will not be unveiled until the final lap at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Carl Edwards had a fast car that was dominant during the first half of the race, but a self-inflicted speeding penalty for a green-flag pit stop on lap 246 put him a lap down.

Edwards, who was the car to beat, had trouble making it back to the lead position. The driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford did finish third on the day and now finds himself second in points, tied with the leader.

Jimmie Johnson appeared to be back in winning form during the second half of the race, but the final two restarts didn't go well for him and cost him the lead. He did finish second and stands fifth in points.

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The driver of the Lowe's/Kobalt No. 48 knew he had to finish in the top three and the team looked to be in typical Chase form at Dover which is a good track for him.

DOVER, DE - OCTOBER 02:  Kurt Busch, driver of the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, celebrates with his crew in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on October 2, 2011 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Tom
Tom Whitmore/Getty Images

Jeff Gordon just never got his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in contention for the lead. He finished 12th and dropped to ninth in points.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in trouble from the start of the race when he felt a vibration that was obviously making the car very hard to drive.

A suspension piece had broken and the sway bar had to be replaced during a green flag which took him to the back of the field.

The driver of the No. 88 National Guard/Amp Energy Chevrolet made his way back to the 14th position. After a pit stop, Earnhardt had to return to the pits on lap 271 with a loose front wheel.

The pit crew mistake was costly and he took the checkered flag from the 24th position and dropped to 10th in the point standings.

The Stewart-Haas drivers were ready to move on to the next race. Tony Stewart won the first two Chase races but remained around his finishing position of 25th throughout the race.

Stewart's teammate, Ryan Newman had an equally underwhelming day and finished in the 23rd position.

Kurt Busch and his often documented rants on the radio about his team being unable to fix his car during the race took on less drama at Dover.

Busch started on the front row, but fell back a little during the race. His team, led by crew chief Steve Addington, did work on the car and got it in contention to win and win he did.

The very happy Penske driver spoke during the post-race interview on ESPN. Busch said, "Winning a Sprint Cup race during the Chase is what it's all about."

The top-five finishers were Busch, Johnson, Edwards, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth. The only other Chase drivers in the top 10 were Kyle Busch in sixth place and Kevin Harvick ended up 10th.

The Chase point standings after the third of ten races are as follows:

1. Kevin Harvick                    2122     +1

2. Carl Edwards                    2122      +2

3. Tony Stewart                          -9      -2

4.  Kurt Busch                            -9     +5

5.  Jimmie Johnson                   -13     +5

6.  Brad Keselowski                  -14      -3

7.  Matt Kenseth                       -14      --

8.  Kyle Busch                          -15      -2

9.  Jeff Gordon                           -19     -4

10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.                -34     -2

11. Ryan Newman                     -41      --

12. Denny Hamlin                      -68      --

The points ride will continue to be a wild one throughout the Chase, but with each race it is becoming more evident who has a chance of being in contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title.

Chapter three of the Chase at Dover revealed a couple more drivers that could be in monstrous trouble if they don't get a win and some top-five finishes.

Next weekend the Cup drivers head to the intermediate track in Kansas for Round 4 of the Chase.

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