Bristol isn’t quite as random as playing the lottery, but it is a crapshoot. And, if ordinarily, you expect mayhem at Bristol — pure, unadulterated chaos, with a helmet or a heat shield thrown in for good measure — Sunday didn’t quite live up to that hype (sigh). Still, it did help shake up the points race, rewarding some and penalizing others.
Jeff Gordon: The Driver Formerly Known as The Kid didn’t move up, he didn’t move down, and he didn’t end his 32-year winless streak. However, he did log his fourth top-six finish of the season and extend his lead over second in the overall.
Kyle Busch: Not the biggest mover at the top of the list, but certainly the most significant, jumping three places, to fourth overall. If he doesn’t get wrecked by a certain Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Daytona, he’s probably leading this thing right now.
Kasey Kahne: A few years ago, Kahne was the latest ‘Next Jeff Gordon’ — anyone seen Casey Atwood lately? Though Kahne won six races in 2006, he spit the bit in 2007, and struggled for much of 2008, two race wins bedamned. So to see him in sixth, up three spots, through five races this season is something of a surprise.
Jimmie Johnson: Anyone else hear it? The theme music to Jaws? No, Johnson still hasn’t won in 2009, but that’s pretty much beside the point. First of all, he didn’t win his first race ’til Week 8 in 2008 and, secondly, at this point last year, he was 13th in points — how’d that work out for him? Up four, to ninth overall.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Last week, someone wrote a story about Earnhardt and his tem being in "freefall." Right. With finishes of 10th, 11th, and 14th in his last three races, Earnhardt has moved from 35th to 19th in points. He’s up another five spots this week.
Matt Kenseth: The first two weeks of the season seem like a looong time ago, don’t they? Since winning the first two, Kenseth has finished 43rd, 12th, and 33rd. At the same time and while he’s still a respectable 10th in the points (he was fifth last week), Kenseth bears a striking resemblance to the guy who went winless in 2008 and finished 11th in points.
Kevin Harvick: This one’s on that frggin’ Michael Waltrip. If Waltrip doesn’t get into Todd Bodine and Bodine doesn’t check up, then Harvick doesn’t get into Bodine and Kurt Busch doesn’t get into the back of Harvick. He was bad all day and struggled to 30th-place, dropping four spots to 12th.
Michael Waltrip: I could swear that Waltrip lost four or five spots on the off weekend, but a friend of mine who works for a Cup team swears to me that’s not possible. Well, nevertheless, Waltrip finished 32nd and dropped another five spots, to 21st. After Week 2, he was seventh. Say goodnight, Michael.
Jamie McMurray: McMurray singlehandedly caused approximately 17 cautions on Sunday, bouncing off this guy and into that wall. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. When all was said and done, he finished 37th and dropped a whopping 10 spots, to 28th.