NASCAR standings 2014: Matt Kenseth finishes 3rd, grabs points lead

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kenseth escaped a run-in with Clint Bowyer to capture the points lead from Jeff Gordon.

He didn't leave Dover International Speedway with his first victory of the year, but Matt Kenseth did capture the Sprint Cup points lead after a third-place finish Sunday. The result, accompanied with Jeff Gordon's 12th-place effort, jumped Kenseth ahead of Gordon by two points at the halfway point of the regular season.

For the majority of the afternoon Kenseth enjoyed a fairly uneventful day, running consistently in the top 10.

His day, though, took a turn when late contact with Clint Bowyer caused Kenseth to hit the wall resulting in what he thought was significant damage. The incident occurred on a restart with four laps remaining with Kenseth lined up fourth and Bowyer sixth, and began when Kenseth spun his tires.

"I did an awful job on that last restart," Kenseth said. "Just got spinning the tires too much.

"I was still trying to get it going I think I was still spinning tires in fourth gear when Clint hit me. I guess he was trying to give me a push there and just destroyed our car. I think I destroyed it. I was glad to still finish after that."

Bowyer explained he had a run and was trying to help Kenseth get going when he tapped him from behind. The two talked on pit road after the race and neither side showed any hard feelings.

That wasn't Bowyer's first encounter with a Joe Gibbs Racing on Sunday. Earlier he played a prominent role in a wreck that knocked out Kyle Busch, as the two made contact off Turn 4. Bowyer continued with repairable damage, while Busch, who led the first 81 laps, finished 42nd.

Bowyer accepted blame for his role, as did his spotter, Brett Griffin, who cleared Bowyer before he had in fact cleared Busch.

"That deal with Kyle, I felt horrible," Bowyer said. "It's just kind of the way our year is going. You try to stay out of trouble I mean it's a team effort. (Griffin) told me I was clear, and I wasn't."

Sprint Cup standings
Rank Driver Points Wins
1 Matt Kenseth 463 0
2 Jeff Gordon 461 1
3 Carl Edwards 438 1
4 Jimmie Johnson 436 2
5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 429 1
6 Joey Logano 414 2
7 Kyle Busch 411 1
8 Brad Keselowski 404 1
9 Denny Hamlin 379 1
10 Kyle Larson 377 0
11 Ryan Newman 374 0
12 Kevin Harvick 373 2
13 Brian Vickers 366 0
14 Paul Menard 362 0
15 Austin Dillon 358 0
16 Greg Biffle 357 0
17 Clint Bowyer 350 0
18 Kasey Kahne 349 0
19 Aric Almirola 344 0
20 AJ Allmendinger 337 0
21 Tony Stewart 336 0
22 Marcos Ambrose 331 0
23 Jamie McMurray 317 0
24 Casey Mears 301 0
25 Martin Truex Jr. 289 0
26 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 261 0
27 Kurt Busch 241 1
28 Danica Patrick 239 0
29 Justin Allgaier 223 0
30 Michael Annett 188 0
31 Cole Whitt 181 0
32 David Gilliland 175 0
33 Reed Sorenson 165 0
34 David Ragan 158 0
35 Alex Bowman 156 0

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