Back-to-back strong runs for Dale Earnhardt Jr., including his win in Sunday's Quicken Loans 400, have helped him surge to within just four points of standings leader Matt Kenseth. Earnhardt has not held the top spot since September 2004, when he took the lead after the opening race of that season's inaugural Chase for the Championship. Kenseth who finished third behind Earnhardt and Tony Stewart, holds the standings for another week.
Greg Biffle maintained his third-place position with his fifth-place run Sunday, but Jimmie Johnson jumped past Denny Hamlin for fourth in the standings thanks to the latter's fiery exit at Michigan. Biffle is 17 points behind his Roush-Fenway Racing teammate Kenseth, while Johnson and Hamlin sit 33 and 51 points back.
Another top-10 finish for Kevin Harvick and a 12th-place showing for Martin Truex Jr. played well for each of their Chase hopes. Though neither has won a race yet in 2012 and sit more than 60 points behind Kenseth, they also both sit more than 40 points ahead of the Chase cutoff position.
Stewart remained eighth with his runner-up showing, while Clint Bowyer's seventh-place finish allowed him to solidify his ninth-place spot in the standings. Tenth-place Brad Keselowski remained in the top-10 with a 13th-place finish, two points ahead of Carl Edwards who took 11th.
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