As some drivers took major steps to securing a spot in the Chase, others saw their playoffs go up in a plume of smoke -- literally in the case of Brad Keselowski. Here is a look back at the winners and losers from the NASCAR weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Five years and two teams later, Joey Logano finally appears to be living up to the massive amount of hype that accompanied his arrival in 2009. In the last three weeks he has a win, a fifth andthis past weekend at Atlanta, a second. Now eighth in points, he's in an excellent position to earn a spot in the Chase and before the season started, who would have thought it would be Logano and not his teammate Brad Keselowski representing Penske Racing in the playoffs?
Martin Truex Jr.
Competing 500 miles on a track like Atlanta with its bumpy, slick surface with a fractured wrist is no easy task. But despite a cast that was either broken or had melted and pain he described as "hurt like hell," Martin Truex Jr. toughed it out. And although it wasn't the win he wanted (and needed), he was justly rewarded for his gutty effort with a third-place finish that kept him solidly in Chase contention.
With all the uncertainty about his future, the mini-turmoil that has consumed Stewart-Haas Racing as of late and whether he was done wrong by the organization, Ryan Newman has remained steadfast that he wouldn't let the distractions consume him. He proved that at Atlanta, as he was able to rally back from early damage on pit road to finish fifth.
As for his plans for 2014, Newman said this past weekend it's going to be a couple of weeks before he finalizes anything. The most likely destination appears to be either Richard Childress Racing -- depending on sponsorship -- or Furniture Row Racing where, ironically, he would replace the guy (Kurt Busch) who is replacing him at SHR.
Brad Keselowski was doing everything he needed to Sunday to either win the race outright or put himself in position to move into the top 10 in points. Then, as he said afterward, in a microcosm of his year, things quickly spiraled out of control with his engine losing power before expiring completely.
Now he's faced with the inevitable task of having to win at Richmond -- a track where he's never finished better than seventh -- just to have a sliver of a chance to qualify for the Chase. In addition to winning, he also needs lots and lots of help. But in all likelihood, Keselowski will join Tony Stewart as the only defending champions to miss the Chase the following season.
Roush Fenway Racing
Leading up to Sunday, Roush Fenway Racing gave the appearance that it was the team to beat. Carl Edwards was among the fastest in practice while he and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. swept the front row in qualifying, with the rookie earning his first pole position.
But when the green flag waved, Stenhouse dropped like he had an anchor attached to his car and finished a quiet 16th, one spot behind teammate Greg Biffle, who was also a nonfactor. As for Edwards, he went from being a contender early and leading 68 laps to finishing a lap down in 18th.
What more can be said about Denny Hamlin's miserable 2013 that hasn't already been said? But the latest chapter includes him unleashing a verbal tirade over a pit road penalty that was enforced correctly. This was followed by him taking his frustration out on teammate Kyle Busch for racing him too hard then calling him an "idiot" for not being able to figure out the fast way around the 1.5-mile track.
It's worth mentioning that Busch went on to win for the fourth time the year, while Hamlin hasn't finished better than 18th in 11 consecutive races.