With no race tomorrow, it's a good time for us to take a gander at the current points standings.
THE CHASE (AS OF NOW)
1 Jeff Gordron 1154 2 Jimmie Johnson 992 -162 3 Kurt Busch 974 -180 4 Clint Bowyer 967 -187 5 Tony Stewart 963 -191 6 Denny Hamlin 938 -216 7 Kyle Busch 914 -240 8 Carl Edwards 889 -265 9 Matt Kenseth 864 -290 10 Kasey Kahne 851 -303 11 David Reutimann 845 -309 12 Jeff Burton 835 -319
WITHIN 100 OR SO
13 Juan Pablo Montoya 819 -16 14 Kevin Harvick 796 -39 15 Greg Biffle 775 -60 16 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 768 -67 17 Ryan Newman 743 -92 18 Mark Martin 742 -93 19 Brian Vickers 737 -98 20 AJ Allmendinger 731 104
OWNER POINTS (and who's usually driving the car) (Top 35 are "locked in" during qualifying)
... 30 RICHARD PETTY 43 (Reed Sorenson) 624 31 BILL DAVIS 77 (Sam Hornish, Jr.) 571 32 MAX JONES 98 (Paul Menard) 543 33 TERESA EARNHARDT 34 (John Andretti) 540 34 ROBBY GORDON 7 (Robby Gordon) 531 35 JOE GIBBS 20 (Joey Logano) 510
36 KEVIN BUCKLER 71 (David Gilliland) 487 -23 37 CHIP GANASSI 8 (Aric Almirola) 451 -59 38 DIETRICH MATESCHITZ 82 (Scott Speed) 414 -96 39 JEFF MOORAD 28 (Travis Kvapil) 323 187 40 TOMMY BALDWIN 36 (Scott Riggs) 310 200
The 8 team is rumoured to be shut down unless a sponsor emerges.
The Yates/No Yates saga has been fun to watch (for only me) - for a while, Gilliland's new ride with TRG had the #35 slot, bumping Paul Menard out of the top 35. Unfortunately (or fortunately), that didn't remain the case before the end of Race 5, when they actually started caring about 2009 point totals, by which time Gilliland had finished far behind Menard a couple times. As for poor Kvapil, the 28 team is also shut down without a sponsor. Terry Labonte's 96 is currently 26th in driver AND owner standings.
Boys! BOYS! You know how emotional I get when you fight!
In all seriousness, I say the main stories based on these standing outside of the top 10 are:
1.) The struggles of both Junior and Mark Martin, though both have recovered a bit the last couple of races. You expect more from both with the tools from Hendricks Racing. Still, I thought both would be contenders for race wins and the chase and while it's early, they don't quite like it.
2.) How good Michael Waltrip racing looks right now, with Reutimann in the top 12 and Mikey well in the top 30 along with sort-of teammate Marcos Ambrose.
3.) The nice little FU that AJ Allmendinger has given to Red Bull Racing for giving up on him last year. While he's in 20th and a good possibility to move up in the standings, his replacement Scott Speed is out of the top 35 in owners standings and has been nothing but a total bust. I never understood what RBR thought was so great about Speed (other than his last name) in the first place; having watch him in F1 races, he never struck me as anything but a field filler.
4.) Joey Logano at the 35th and cutoff spot. I figured he would struggle a bit, but I don't think he's as bad as this placing show. Certainly not after seeing him win at Nashville yesterday- yeah, I know it's a Nationwide race, but I think with a little more time under his legs, he can have more runs like that before too long in the Sprint Cup series.
5.) I agree with you, CRZ- poor Kvapil. He always seems to get a raw deal and this year seems to be no exception.
If Lance signs to Astana for 2009, no way in hell the Tour unjustly boots Astana again. They took enough flak for it this year when Astana didn't have a seven-time champion on its roster; imagine the cries of outrage if it did?