MAKING THEIR POINTS: Grace period over

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foxsports admin

As the Winston Cup points race heats up, will take a closer look at the standings following the conclusion of each race. We'll note who's making a move and whose championship hopes took the hardest hit.

Picking up the pace

  • (+1)
    Ten points. That's all that separates Martin from taking over the top spot in the point standings. How close is 10 points? Let's say Martin wins a race and leads the most laps, and finishes second without leading a lap, Martin will take the points lead. Martin hasn't won at Loudon, but he has three wins at Dover so he may not catch Marlin this week, but he's so close that he won't fall so far and not be able to devour Marlin with a win at the Monster Mile. While Martin does have a win, consistency's his thing. He notched his series best 16th top-10 finish at Richmond.
  • (+2)
    Johnson began a bad weekend for his boss when Johnson knocked "Super G" off his cart in a promotional race on Friday and then ran over his hand. J.J. ended the weekend by leapfrogging Gordon in the standings. Johnson's ability to hang in the race was questioned because of his rookie status, but before he became a crew chief at Melling Racing in 2000 with , Chad Knaus paid his dues as a member of Gordon's championship winning crew so he knows what it takes to finish strong.

    Not making their points

  • (-2)
    A broken camshaft slowed the defending Winston Cup champion's back-to-back race-winning roll, and while he gained nine points on points leader , he slipped to fourth in the point standings. It was Sonoma all over again when Gordon couldn't capitalize on Marlin's misfortune. Engine failures are few and far between with Randy Dorton in charge of Hendrick Motorsports motor program so Gordon should be able to get back on his horse, or horsepower, and make hay the next two weeks. He has a combined seven wins at Loudon and Dover.
  • (--)
    Standing pat Sterling nearly gave up the ghost at Richmond when his night ended on lap nine, but he's still out front. Barely. Marlin suffered a chest contusion, and none of the points contenders could add insult to injury by taking over the points lead that Marlin has held since the second race of the season. With 10 races to go, Marlin has no margin for error or bad luck. If he gets collected in another wreck down the stretch, he won't collect the Winston Cup champion's nearly $4 million share of the point fund.
  • (-1)
    The spring Richmond winner had never finished worse than 15th at the "Action Track", and with a win, he would have been on track to become the eighth of the last nine drivers to sweep Richmond on the way to the Winston Cup title. Stewart stalked and was running third when he lost all of his gears and fell to 30th. He managed to shave 44 points off of 's lead, but with another of his dominating wins at Richmond in which he led the most laps, Stewart would have been 11 points, not 118, behind Marlin.
    Top 10 - Winston Cup Points Standings
    Driver (Standings change) Points Behind Starts Wins Top 5 Top 10
    Sterling Marlin (--) 3,439 Leader 26 2 8 14
    Mark Martin (+1) 3,430 -9 26 1 8 16
    Jimmie Johnson (+2) 3,367 -72 26 2 5 15
    Jeff Gordon (+1) 3,357 -82 26 2 8 14
    Tony Stewart (-1) 3,321 -118 26 3 10 14
    Rusty Wallace (--) 3,293 -146 26 0 4 13
    Bill Elliott (+1) 3,255 -184 26 2 5 11
    Matt Kenseth (+2) 3,191 -248 26 4 9 13
    Ricky Rudd (-1) 3,191 -248 26 1 6 10
    Ryan Newman (+1) 3,168 -271 26 0 12 15
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