CUP: Hamlin On Title Track

Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 will be remembered as one of the wildest races in NASCAR history, with Denny Hamlin winning and taking over the NASCAR Sprint Cup lead as Jimmie Johnson's crew self-destructed disastrously.

And with Jeff Burton inexplicably wrecking Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch going ballistic, it made for a fascinating afternoon.

Here’s how the 12 Chase drivers compare following eight races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup:

1. DENNY HAMLIN, Joe Gibbs Racing, 1st place in the race — A new champion in the making? Hamlin took a huge step toward his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship with a dramatic late-race charge to victory. He’ll be tough to beat now. 6,325 points

2. JIMMIE JOHNSON, Hendrick Motorsports, 9th — No question about it, Johnson’s pit crew killed any hopes he had of winning the race and likely ended his shot at a fifth championship, too. His crew was swapped out mid-race with Jeff Gordon’s. 6,292 points

3. KEVIN HARVICK, Richard Childress Racing, 6th — A good finish was actually a bad finish for Harvick given that he ended five spots back of Hamlin. He needs a great race in Phoenix to even stay in contention. 6,266 points

4. CARL EDWARDS, Roush Fenway Racing, 19th — After looking good in practice and qualifying, frankly Edwards was a bit of a disappointment in the race, barely holding onto a top-20 spot. Not what the three-time Texas winner expected. 6,008 points

5. MATT KENSETH, Roush Fenway Racing, 2nd — It looked like old times, as Kenseth gave Hamlin a whale of a fight in the closing laps of the race before capturing the runner-up spot. It was good for a jump of three spots in the points. 6,000 points

6. JEFF GORDON, Hendrick Motorsports, 37th — Think about this for a second. Jeff Gordon nearly punched out Jeff Burton after Burton drilled him into the wall. Unbelievable. 5,994 points

7. KYLE BUSCH, Joe Gibbs Racing, 32nd — What does Kyle Busch think of NASCAR? You’re No. 1, baby! Busch erupted twice this weekend, once after the Nationwide race and then again in the Cup race. Rough weekend. 5,986 points

8. TONY STEWART, Stewart-Haas Racing, 11th — A decent day for the two-time Sprint Cup champion, but nothing spectacular as a late-race gamble to stay out on the track didn’t pay the desired dividends. 5,962 points

9. GREG BIFFLE, Roush Fenway Racing, 5th — The hard-luck story of the race, Biffle led the most laps at Texas and had a car capable of winning, but a broken second gear hampered him on restarts. 5,962 points

10. CLINT BOWYER, Richard Childress Racing, 7th — Finally out of 12th place, Bowyer has to wonder how this Chase would have played out without the 150-point penalty after New Hampshire. 5,928 points

11. KURT BUSCH, Penske Racing, 24th — After a strong start to the season, Busch has sort of gone slip-sliding away, as he was never remotely competitive at Texas, where he was the defending race winner. 5,890 points

12. JEFF BURTON, Richard Childress Racing, 36th — What in the heck was Burton thinking when he stuffed Jeff Gordon into the wall? 5,852 points

Check out Charting the Chasers: Texas Motor Speedway Photo Gallery on!

Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for You can follow him online at and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.