The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moved another step closer to the AdvoCare 500 weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway as Greg Biffle claimed his second victory of 2012 by winning the Pure Michigan 500 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday.
Biffle survived a late race restart and held of Michigan-native Brad Keselowski and a charging Kasey Kahne to claim the checkered flag. With his win, coupled by late race engine problems by then points leader and race leader Jimmie Johnson, Biffle moves to the top of the Sprint Cup points standings by 20 points over teammate Matt Kenseth.
While leading the points standings prior to the Chase for the Sprint Cup field is not that important, the win helped make an impact on what the seeding will look like once the Chase starts. Following Richmond, the standings will be reset for the Chase by race wins. Drivers in the top 10 with the most wins will go to the top of the standings, and each race win in the regular season earns the driver 10 bonus points. If the Chase were to start today, there would be a three-way tie at the top of the standings between Johnson, Keselowski and Tony Stewart. Had either Johnson or Keselowski won on Sunday, it would have been their fourth win of the season and would have given them the most wins for the year. For now, they remain tied at three wins.
Kasey Kahne rebounded nicely from an early race spin to bring home a third place finish and maintain his position as the top wild-card in the points standings. Carl Edwards also logged a much needed solid finish by bringing the No. 99 home in sixth place. Following the race, ESPN analyst Rusty Wallace noted that Edwards could possibly win at Bristol next week, but made his pick for the AdvoCare 500 by telling the audience he predicted Edwards to win at Atlanta Motor Speedway during Labor Day weekend.
Ryan Newman, feeling ill throughout the weekend, gutted out a well-earned eighth place finish, keeping him in the second wild-card position heading into Bristol. Meanwhile Jeff Gordon, who had a strong car, suffered engine issues and lost a spot in the standings. Falling further behind in points only adds more urgency to Gordon’s Chase chances, almost putting him in a must-win scenario in the upcoming races. Some journalists have pegged Gordon to win the upcoming AdvoCare 500 at AMS, where Gordon is the defending winner.
The current wild-card standings following Michigan are below:
Position Driver Points Points Back Wins
11. Kasey Kahne * 694 --- 2
12. Carl Edwards 689 -5 0
13. Ryan Newman** 680 -14 1
14. Kyle Busch 669 -25 1
15. Paul Menard 665 -29 0
16. Jeff Gordon 650 -44 1
17. Marcos Ambrose 639 -55 1
18. Joey Logano 600 -94 1
*currently holds the first wild-card position
**currently holds the second wild-card position
NASCAR night racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2012. Reserve your AdvoCare 500 tickets now. For more information, call the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (877) 9-AMS-TIX, (770) 946-4211 or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.