2013 NASCAR standings: Earnhardt on Chase bubble, Kurt Busch moves into top 10

Jared C. Tilton

While Kurt Busch and Joey Logano took big steps to improve their Chase chances, consecutive weeks of poor finishes has placed Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the playoff bubble.

Jimmie Johnson still holds a substantial lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings, but a blown engine cut the margin between himself and second-place Clint Bowyer down to 41 points following Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway.

The five-time Cup champion finished the Pure Michigan 400 in 40th, while Bowyer overcame a spin on Lap 1 to place fifth.

With a third-place run the bigger gainer Sunday was Kurt Busch, who went from being outside the Chase cutoff to jump two spots to ninth. He replaces Martin Truex Jr. in the top 10, who fell to 12th overall after a struggling to finish 16th.

But Truex still has a grasp on the second wild card slot, as he is up seven points on Michigan winner Joey Logano. Kasey Kahne with two victories on the year holds the No. 1 wild card position with three regular races remaining.

After a tire failure caused him to hit the wall, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finds himself on the Chase bubble. He is now ranked seventh just 20 points ahead of 11th-place Kahne and without a win this season, Earnhardt would not be eligible for a wild card.

"I think we'll be all right," Earnhardt said. "We're not an 11th-place team. We're a top-five team. We're consistent. We're more consistent than most. We've just got to shake this luck ... and we've just got to keep our head up and keep working hard and things will be all right."

Sprint Cup Series Standings

Place Driver Points Behind
1 Jimmie Johnson 813 ---
2 Clint Bowyer 772 -41
3 Carl Edwards 762 -51
4 Kevin Harvick 749 -64
5 Kyle Busch 706 -107
6 Matt Kenseth 688 -125
7 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 679 -134
8 Brad Keselowski 667 -146
9 Kurt Busch 665 -148
10 Greg Biffle 663 -150
11 Kasey Kahne 659 -154
12 Martin Truex Jr. 653 -160
13 Joey Logano 646 -167
14 Jeff Gordon 637 -176
15 Ryan Newman 636 -177
16 Jamie McMurray 622 -191
17 Paul Menard 599 -214
18 Tony Stewart 594 -219
19 Aric Almirola 587 -226
20 Jeff Burton 561 -252


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Who will Chip Ganassi sign to replace Montoya?

Juan Pablo Montoya not returning to EGR in 2014

Brian Vickers to drive No. 55 MWR car full-time

Longform: The good times and hard life of Dick Trickle

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