May. 23, 2013, Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.COM
Strong return from injury continues for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver
Jeremy Mayfield races his way into the Chase at Richmond. With a strong car and a little luck, Jeremy Mayfield's pre-race tactic of driving hard the entire race worked at Richmond and secured the No. 19 a spot in the Chase after taking the checkers. Mayfield knew before the race it was go time. “We came into the last week with a no-holds-barred attitude," Mayfield said. "We didn't even look at it [Richmond] like a points race. We couldn't. It was over then. The points racing and being conservative was over.”
Junior fails to make the Chase for the first time. In between crashes at Indianapolis and Fontana, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he was done talking about the point standings. In fact, he claims he didn’t even look at them leading up to Bristol, where he sat 16th in the standings -- 158 points out of the 10th and final qualifying spot. Earnhardt Jr. was tired and had no desire to talk statistics. "What can I do? I mean, dang, am I supposed to quit? Give it up?'' he asked. "I've just got to come back and try again next year.''
Kasey Kahne races in; Tony Stewart bows out. Kasey Kahne was outside the Chase with two events left when the series went to Fontana. A win there and a solid finish at Richmond helped him earn a berth in the Chase and an eighth-place position overall at the end of the season.
Tony Stewart had poor finishes at Michigan, Fontana and Richmond, leaving a defending Cup Series champion out of contention for the first time since the Chase was created and leaving Stewart with the worst finish of his career. At Fontana, Stewart eliminated himself from the top 10 after wrecking his primary car in practice and limping to an 18th-place finish in his backup, falling from eighth to 12th in the series standings.
“It takes 26 weeks to get to this point,” Stewart sighed after climbing out of his car. “This is proof of how tough this series is and how tough it is just to make this Chase.”
Johnson racks up back-to back wins, solidifies Chase berth and enter as top seed. Jimmie Johnson was tied with Jeff Gordon for bonus points heading into Fontana, went on to win at Auto Club Speedway and then again the following week at Richmond to earn an extra 20 points over Gordon heading into the Chase. With a total of 60 bonus points in his arsenal heading into the 10-race playoff, Johnson admitted he and the team had hit their stride.
“I just want to be strong and steady and start knocking down top-fives starting next weekend ... hopefully win a race or two in the Chase," Johnson said. The No. 48 won four of the last five races and Johnson claimed his second Cup championship.
Kyle Busch scored 40 bonus points during the last 13 races before the Chase. The wins came at Sonoma, Daytona, Chicago and Watkins Glen. Carl Edwards scored 30 bonus points during the last 13 races before the Chase, winning at Pocono, Michigan and Bristol. While Edwards eventually finished runner-up to Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Busch ended up in 10th, both drivers created plenty of suspense leading up to the Chase.
Brian Vickers sat 14th in the standings and was on the outside looking in at the top 12 when the No. 83 arrived at Michigan. Vickers and team won the race on fuel mileage and went on to pass Kyle Busch in points late in the race at Richmond, move up five points in the standings and clinch his first career spot in the Chase, leaving Busch on the outside looking in from 13th position.
|David Reutimann||Michael Waltrip Racing|
|Jamie McMurray||Earnhardt Ganassi Racing|
|Kurt Busch||Penske Racing|
|Mark Martin||Hendrick Motorsports|
|David Ragan||Roush Fenway Racing|
|Robby Gordon||Robby Gordon Motorsports|
|Bobby Labonte||Phoenix Racing|
|Kasey Kahne||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|Brad Keselowski||Penske Racing|
|Tony Stewart||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|Greg Biffle||Roush Fenway Racing|
|Matt Kenseth||Roush Fenway Racing|
|Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|Elliott Sadler||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|Joey Logano||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|Bill Elliott||Wood Brothers Racing|
|Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports|
|Kevin Harvick||Richard Childress Racing|
|Jeff Burton||Richard Childress Racing|
|Clint Bowyer||Richard Childress Racing|
|John Andretti||Front Row Motorsports|
|Travis Kvapil||Front Row Motorsports|
|Mike Bliss||Tommy Baldwin Racing|
|Johnny Sauter||Tommy Baldwin Racing|
|Casey Mears||Tommy Baldwin Racing|
|Kevin Conway||Front Row Motorsports|
|David Gilliland||Front Row Motorsports|
|Ryan Newman||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|Juan Montoya||Earnhardt Ganassi Racing|
|A.J. Allmendinger||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|J.J. Yeley||Whitney Motorsports|
|Marcos Ambrose||JTG-Daugherty Racing|
|Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports|
|Michael McDowell||Prism Motorsports|
|Martin Truex Jr.||Michael Waltrip Racing|
|Dave Blaney||Prism Motorsports|
|Mike Bliss||TRG Motorsports|
|Sam Hornish Jr.||Penske Racing|
|Regan Smith||Furniture Row Racing|
|Scott Speed||Red Bull Racing Team|
|Brian Vickers||Red Bull Racing Team|
|Joe Nemechek||NEMCO Motorsports|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Hendrick Motorsports|
|Scott Riggs||Keyed-Up Motorsports|
|Paul Menard||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|Carl Edwards||Roush Fenway Racing|