1. Jimmie Johnson: After passing Brad Keselowski on lap 191, Johnson was poised to capture his series-best fourth win of the year. But a blown engine just four laps later ended Johnson’s day, and his 27th-place finished dropped him to fourth in the point standings.
“That’s was my second engine failure of the weekend,” Johnson said. “Let me tell you, that ‘b(Lowe’s).’ Who’s building these things? Ironically, he may have to be ‘let go.’
“Is Keselowski the biggest threat to my chances of winning my sixth Cup title? If number of tweets is any indication, then I’m in deep trouble. But I, a five-time champion, tend to put more stock in ‘hardware’ instead of ‘software.’ I don’t follow @Kes, or that logic.”
2. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski took the runner-up spot for the second-straight week, finishing second to Greg Biffle in the Pure Michigan 400. Keselowski remained fifth in the point standings and is 47 out of first.
“Am I destined for second place?” Keselowski said. “Apparently, I need to send a tweet to ‘@theleader,’ because that’s who I’m following.
“I hear than Joey Logano could be my new teammate at Penske Racing. I think it would be great to see Joey’s name on the side of a Penske Dodge. That way, I can once again say I have a teammate who’s ‘on something.’”
3. Greg Biffle: Biffle took the lead when Jimmie Johnson’s engine blew on lap 196, and held off Brad Keselowski to win the Pure Michigan 400. It was Biffle’s second win of the year, giving him the Sprint Cup points lead and significantly improving his position in the Chase.
“These are happy days for me,” Biffle said. “Oddly enough, Johnson’s ‘expiration point’ became my ‘inspiration point.’ And I ‘made out’ well.
“It looks like Jack Roush’s hopes for the Cup title rest solely on my shoulders. Matt Kenseth seems to be mailing it in, while Carl Edwards won’t deliver on Sunday.”
4. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: Earnhardt, who won at Michigan in June, finished fourth in the Pure Michigan 400, his tenth top-10 of the year. He moved up one spot in the Sprint Cup point standings to third, 22 behind Greg Biffle.
“Jeff Gordon had some unkind words for me over the radio at Michigan,” Earnhardt said. “I’m not offended. And neither is Rick Hendrick. In his eyes, Gordon was just ‘sharing information.”
5. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth finished 17th at Michigan, as Roush Fenway teammate Greg Biffle gave Jack Roush his 12th win at Michigan. Kenseth is now second in the point standings, 20 behind Biffle.
“Congratulations to Greg Biffle,” Kenseth said. “I have no problem ‘giving it up’ for the Biff.’ I also have no problem ‘giving it up’ for a fat new contract with Joe Gibbs Racing. I envy Biffle. He closed the deal and wasn’t afraid to talk about it.”
6. Kasey Kahne: Kahne solidified his wildcard position in the standings with a third in the Pure Michigan 400. He is 11th in the point standings, 33 behind Deny Hamlin in 10th.
“Mark Martin had a heck of a crash on Sunday,” Kahne said. “Officially, he retired on lap 64. Considering the magnitude of the wreck, I’m surprised Mark was able to walk away. I’m even more surprised he didn’t officially announce his retirement.”
7. Tony Stewart: Stewart finished 32nd at Michigan after a long day in which he struggled after losing a cylinder on lap 51. After several trips to the garage, Stewart ended the day 92 laps down.
“Luckily,” Stewart said, “I’ve got three wins to fall back on. And I pride myself on being amply cushioned.
“My good friend Danica Patrick ran over a shoe in Montreal on Saturday. It seems she’s trying a little too hard to get her ‘footing’ in NASCAR. She probably could have used a shoe ‘horn.’ The GoDaddy.com car spits out shoes faster than a Chinese Nike factory.”
8. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin finished 11th at Michigan, leading one lap and just missing on his 12th top-10 result of the year. He is tenth in the point standings, 96 out of first.
“Despite my standing in the points,” Hamlin said, “I still think I’ll contend for the Sprint Cup title once the Chase begins. So, unlike my unborn child, my championship hopes are ‘legitimate.”
9. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer posted his third consecutive top-10 finish with a seventh in the Pure Michigan 400. He remained seventh in the Sprint Cup point standings, 66 out of first and firmly in place to make the Chase.
“I’m a shoo-in to make the Chase,” Bowyer said. “And speaking of ‘shoe-ins,’ a sneaker tossed on the track in Montreal derailed Danica Patrick’s chances in the Nationwide race. She ran slap over the thing. I’m guessing she would have stopped had it been a high heel.”
10. Martin Truex, Jr.: Truex finished 10th at Michigan, scoring his 13th top-10 result of the year. He stands sixth in the point standings, 60 out of first.
“Michael Waltrip Racing is poised to put two cars in the Chase For The Cup,” Truex said. “Can you imagine an MWR driver winning the Sprint Cup championship? Michael says if you can’t ‘buy’ that, maybe you will ‘rent’ it.”