Here's a look back at the winners and losers from the recently completed NASCAR weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway:
After his engine expired at Martinsville and left him with a 38th-place finish, Kasey Kahne was a woeful 31st in points with it appearing all but certain that his first season with Hendrick Motorsports was going to be regarded as a dismal failure.
But six races later and on the strength of having finished eighth or better in all six of them, Kahne has resurrected his year and is fulfilling the lofty expectations that many had laid out for him entering the season. Thanks to his victory Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600, he's moved to 15th overall – just 42 points behind 10th-place Carl Edwards – as well as being very much in contention for a Wild Card berth.
At the end of the night, Denny Hamlin didn't pull into Victory Lane like he did earlier in the year at Phoenix and Kansas. But what Hamlin did do at Charlotte with his runner-up finish was further cement the notion that he needs to be taken seriously as a championship contender.
Almost halfway through the regular season, it's apparent Hamlin, who moved up to third in the standings, has regained his form from 2010, when he won eight races and finished a close second to Jimmie Johnson in the year-end standings. And it's also obvious he and new crew chief Darian Grubb have jelled quickly with one another. Even more scary is the fact that the car Hamlin raced Sunday was the first car Grubb had built to his exact specifications.
With each passing race, it's becoming clearer and clearer Greg Biffle isn't going away, folks. The latest example was on Sunday night when "The Biff" led a race-high 204 laps and finished a very solid fourth which expanded his points lead to 10 over second-place Matt Kenseth. And if that's not enough, know that the next three tracks the Cup series visits - Dover, Pocono and Michigan - are tracks Biffle excels on, having won races at each.
While his two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates were running up front and ultimately finishing second and third, respectively, once again, Joey Logano failed to come close to matching this same level of performance. Throughout the 600, the 22-year-old was a virtual nonentity and when the checkered flag waved, he was three laps behind and 23rd in the final rundown - marking the sixth time in the last eight races he's finished outside the top 15. Not the results needed for a driver who is very much in danger of losing his ride for 2013.
There's no need to dwell on the obvious, but it needs to be said that NASCAR has a problem on its hands when it comes to competition - or more specifically, the lack thereof - on the intermediate tracks. And with the schedule cluttered with these kinds of ovals, this is an issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
As good as things went for Chip Ganassi up in Indianapolis, where his cars swept the top two positions in the 500, it was the exact opposite on the NASCAR side of things. While both Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya had speed in their cars, both also had issues on pit road as each had to come back down pit road during the same cycle of pit stops for missing lug nuts, with Montoya ending the night in 20th and McMurray 21st.