A look back at the winners and losers from the just completed NASCAR weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
Is it possible for a driver to open the Chase without a victory and yet still make the garage tremble in fear? In the case of Jimmie Johnson the answer is a resounding, yes, as the five-time champ posted consecutive runner-up finishes which places him on top of the Cup standings. And even more ominously, is the fact Johnson's own personal playground - Dover - is upcoming; a track where he has won four of the last seven and seven times overall.
You can't win them all and this is a lesson Brad Keselowski fully understands. Witness his comments on Sunday, where Keselowski was diplomatic and understood that with a car that was lacking speed, a sixth-place finish wasn't a bad thing. But I suppose this is easy for the Penske driver to accept when he looks at the standings and sees he's just one point out of first.
Here's all you need to know about Darian Grubb and why right now, he might be the best crew chief in all of NASCAR. In his last 38 races atop the pit box, Grubb has been victorious in 10 races and six of the last 12 in the Chase.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
It was great while it lasted, but reality has set in. And that reality is that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not going to win the championship in 2012. Not when he struggles just to finish eighth and 13th - as he has done the last two weeks - while other drivers (Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin) are fixtures up front, leading laps and winning races.
Sorry, Junior Nation, but as the saying goes: There is always next year.
Roush Fenway Racing
At one point this year with multiple wins and two drivers sitting first and second in points, the thinking was that Roush Fenway Racing was the team to beat. But that was then and this is now. And presently, both Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth are Chase nonfactors, while Carl Edwards and the 99 team look lost - they haven't finished in the top 10 since Michigan in August.
It was announced on Monday that next year Kurt Busch will take Regan Smith's seat at Furniture Row Racing. All of which means with silly season slowly crawling to a halt, it appears Regan Smith is going to be left without a ride - a stunning turn for a driver who a year ago won the Southern 500.