Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson dominated at Kansas, leading 197 of 272 laps, and easily pulled away from the challenge of Kasey Kahne to win the Hollywood Casino 400. It was Johnson’s second win of the year, and vaulted him to within four of the Sprint Cup points lead.
[media-credit id=2 align=”alignright” width=”221″][/media-credit]“I’m not ‘done,’” Johnson said. “I’m just getting started. If you’re looking for volunteers to say ‘You were wrong’ to those people who counted me out, well, count me in.
“A win in Kansas means I’ll celebrate with Kansas. The band, not the state. I led nearly every lap, and won handily, leaving 42 cars as ‘Dust In My Wind.’ I struggled early in the Chase, but Chad Knaus told me to keep digging and things would turn around. He was right, and his suggestions to ‘Carry On Wayward ‘Son’ proved prescient.”
2. Carl Edwards: Edwards overcame race-long handling issues, falling a lap down at one point, and stormed back to finish fifth at Kansas. He maintained the Sprint Cup points lead, and holds a one-point lead over Kevin Harvick, with Jimmie Johnson only four back.
“We really came back from the brink,” Edwards said. “The car was junk for most of the day, but with a lot of adjustments and tweaks, we were able to pull one out of our Aflac.
“Harvick finished sixth, so he could just as easily be in the points lead had I not held him off. It was a great battle for fifth, but in light of Johnson’s dominance, Harvick and I might as well be battling for second.”
3. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski raced to a third-place finish at Kansas, his ninth top-5 result of the year. He improved two places in the point standings to fourth, and trails Carl Edwards by 11.
“I’m by far the youngest Chase competitor,” Keselowski said. “And of all the twenty-something’s in the Chase, I’m the only one making a mark. So, you describe our impact on the Chase as ‘youth is served,’ but you can describe my impact on the Chase as one ‘serving of youth.’”
4. Kevin Harvick: Harvick finished sixth in the Hollywood Casino 400, earning his 16th top-10 finish of the year. Harvick fell out of a tie in the points lead, and now trails Carl Edwards, who finished fifth, by one.
“I’m only one point out of the lead,” Harvick said, “yet everyone seems ready to hand Jimmie Johnson his sixth Sprint Cup title, even though he’s four behind the lead. Well, it’s way too early for me to concede the title to Johnson. I have no qualms about making a ‘concession stand.’”
5. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth led 26 laps and posted a solid fourth at Kansas, his ninth top-5 result of the year. He jumped two spots in the point standings to fifth, and trails Carl Edwards by 12.
“I trail Edwards by 12?” Kenseth asked. “Is that in ‘cool points? Anyway, I’m the driver that’s been hovering around, waiting to make a move. Unfortunately, if all you do is hover, then your championship hopes just won’t float.”
6. Kyle Busch: Busch just missed a top-10 finish at Kansas, coming home 11th in the Hollywood Casino 400. With four races down in the Chase, Busch is now eighth in the point standings, 20 out of first.
“I’m not worried about ‘insurmountable leads,’” Busch said. “It’s ‘insurmountable deficits’ that concern me.”
7. Tony Stewart: Stewart let a certain top-10 finish slip away when he slid past his pit stall during the race’s final caution. The lengthy pit stop cost him several positions, and he restarted 17th before finishing 15th. Stewart tumbled four spots in the point standings to 7th, 19 out of first.
“A mere two races ago,” Stewart said, “I was leading the Sprint Cup point standings. Now, I’m in seventh. So, my pit mishap at Kansas is no big deal, considering I’ve had longer ‘slides’ before.”
8. Kurt Busch: Busch, last week’s winner at Dover, finished 13th in the Hollywood Casino 400 after a losing ground on the race’s final restart. Busch dropped two places to sixth in the point standings, and is now 16 out of first.
“One week after I smoked him for the win at Dover,” Busch said, “Jimmie Johnson goes out and wins at Kansas, and wins so handily that he’s practically anointed champion. What does Johnson hate more? Losing to me, or losing in general?”
9. Jeff Gordon: Gordon’s engine blew with four laps to go at Kansas and he finished 34th, which could prove to be fatal to his championship hopes. He is now 47 points out of the lead with six races remaining in the Chase.
“They call Jimmie Johnson ‘5-time,’” Gordon said. “It’s a nickname I’ve longed to possess. The bad news: they won’t be calling me that this year. The good news: the nickname will likely be available next year.”
10. Dale Earnhart, Jr.: Earnhardt finished 14th in the Hollywood Casino 400, and moved up one spot in the point standings to ninth, 43 out of first.
“Jimmie Johnson looks like a solid bet to win his sixth Sprint Cup championship,” Earnhardt said. “If that happens, then it’s a perfect example of ‘deJJa vu.’”