Here's a look at the winners and losers from the recently completed NASCAR weekend at Dover International Speedway:
Richard Petty Motorsports
For the first time this season, Richard Petty Motorsports had both of its drivers – Aric Almirola (sixth-place finish) and Marcos Ambrose (10th) – finish a race in the top 10. And a quick glance at the overall standings shows both drivers inside the top 20 and in position to make a run at a spot in the Chase.
In particular, Ambrose most certainly will be in contention to win at the series' two road courses, which, if he were to do so, might be enough to snag him one of the two Wild Card spots.
Last week, I chided Joey Logano for not performing up to a level that would make Joe Gibbs Racing want to retain him past this season. This week however, Logano followed up his dominant Nationwide Series win by coming home eighth in Sunday's Cup race. This was ahead of his more-heralded teammates Denny Hamlin – who labored through a bad day to finish 18th – and Kyle Busch, who, thanks to an engine expiring, ended up 29th.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
No, Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn't win Sunday, but he did finish fourth and, as evident by his series-leading 10 top-10s and the fact he is the only driver to complete every lap, the foundation is in place for NASCAR's most popular driver to have a truly special season. Now, if he could only do something about that pesky winless streak.
While it's too early to definitively say that last year's championship runner-up is headed down the familiar path of failing to carry over success from one season to the next, it is starting to look that way. Through 13 races, Carl Edwards has a doughnut in the win column and is 12th in the standings, all the while his two Roush Fenway Racing teammates, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth, have each won once and are first and second in the championship order.
Since winning two of the year's first five races, Tony Stewart has noticeably struggled with four finishes of 24th or worse in the last seven races, including a crash-induced 25th-place result Sunday in Dover. There's no doubt last year's Sprint Cup champ can win on any given weekend, but until he starts showing some consistency, a repeat is looking doubtful.
The latest example of Jeff Gordon's misfortune came Sunday when Gordon had one of the best cars – if not the best – and was well-positioned to get his first win of the year – a win he badly needs if he is to get into the Chase. Except, as has been the case this season, a loose wheel followed later by poorly timed caution for debris relegated Gordon to a relatively useless 13th-place finish.
No explanation needed.