Only one driver in the top 20 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings left Martinsville with the same standings position he came in with – Brad Keselowski,who remained second in the points.
The points lead changed, from Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Jimmie Johnson. Earnhardt dropped to third. The all-important 10th-place spot changed. It now belongs toMatt Kenseth, with Joey Logano falling out of the top 10. Denny Hamlin, recovering from a back injury, also fell out of the top 10 with Clint Bowyer the benefactor. Bowyer’s runner-up finish catapulted him six spots, from 14th to eighth. Though he did drop a spot, ninth-place Paul Menard remains a dark horse candidate for a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot. It was a wild one. And expect more of the same.
Earnhardt has the potential to right the ship immediately. His first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory came at Texas in 2000, and he comes into this race with four consecutive top-10 finishes. Last year, he went 12-for-12 at the 1.5- and 2-mile tracks.
Kenseth’s case could be an interesting one. Kenseth comes into this event with five consecutive top fives at Texas (including a win in 2011), but all that came under the Roush Fenway Racing umbrella. He hasn’t missed a beat on intermediate tracks yet in 2013 with new team Joe Gibbs Racing, chipping in a win at Las Vegas and a seventh at Auto Club Speedway.