So goes the Chase for the Sprint Cup, which once again saw a postrace scrum and harsh words among guys competing for the championship. Theatrics aside, another recurring theme throughout the playoffs was prevalent Sunday, as numerous Chasers experienced a myriad of problems, leaving the standings tightened, and questions abound on who will survive and advance.
1. Joey Logano (Last week: 1)
Disaster nearly struck when a flat tire led to a spin and dropped the current points leader well down the running order with 35 laps remaining. The damage was minimized as a bevy of late cautions allowed Logano to pick his way through the madness and finish 12th.
2. Kevin Harvick (LW: 6)
Known as "The Closer," Harvick may have earned a new nickname after his somewhat childish act of pushing Brad Keselowski toward Gordon, which triggered the ensuing melee. And isn't it somewhat hypocritical of Harvick to accuse Keselowski of not taking responsibility for his actions, when in fact he did much the same thing in slinking away when the fracas broke out?
3. Brad Keselowski (LW: 3)
Nothing too exciting about Keselowski's afternoon, as pit strategy propelled him to a third-place finish. There was, however, some dustup with the driver of the No. 24 car late and some residual fallout that saw Keselowski bleeding from the lip afterward. Wonder what may have caused that?
4. Jeff Gordon (LW: 2)
Besides suffering a cut tire that sent him for a spin, was Gordon involved in anything else of note Sunday? Oh, that's right, he was one of the participants in the minor disagreement that took place on pit road and most people have probably forgotten about already.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 5)
Driving the car he swept Pocono with, Earnhardt entered Texas full of optimism. That confidence never manifested itself into a fifth victory of 2014, as Earnhardt wasn't a factor for much of the early going. He was strong toward the finish, though, coming away with a sixth-place.
6. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 12)
Not often can you say Johnson desperately needed a victory, but with how abysmal his Chase has gone and with questions about the future of Chad Knaus, winning for the first time since June was a resounding way to quiet the skeptics. As for talk about Knaus not returning next season, that was dismissed by the crew chief postrace.
7. Denny Hamlin (LW: 7)
Hamlin continues to churn out top-10s just as he said he would, grabbing a 10th at Texas. But even though what he's doing is by no means flashy, it certainly is proving effective, as evidenced that Hamlin is tied with Logano for the points lead, and another solid finish Sunday will mean a likely spot in the final four.
8. Ryan Newman (LW: 4)
His streak of top-10s may have come to an end at five thanks to a flat tire, but like many guys, Newman made chicken salad out of you know what. And by rallying to finish 15th, he did just enough to maintain a spot in the top four in points, and with Phoenix one of Newman's better tracks, a berth in the championship finale is looking increasing likely.
9. Kyle Busch (LW: 9)
You know it's not your day when a wheel literally falls off your car. Nevertheless, Busch still did the improbable and came back to finish fourth, in the process demonstrating grittiness not normally associated with the No. 18 team.
10. Matt Kenseth (LW: 8)
Good news for Kenseth is that his attack on Keselowski from last month is no longer the most talked about "wow moment" of the season. Conversely, the bad news is the line of guys wanting to seek retribution against Keselowski continues to grow longer. Meaning, Kenseth may no longer be at the top of the list.
11. Kyle Larson (LW: 10)
That first breakout victory continues to elude Larson, who finished a quiet seventh. Don't expect much this weekend, with the rookie having just a single top-10 in four combined Cup and Nationwide starts at Phoenix.
12. Carl Edwards (LW: 13)
Texas was the epitome of Edwards' season. Although woefully slow all race -- at one point he was two laps down -- Edwards still somehow ended up ninth and is still very much alive in the championship.
13. Jamie McMurray (LW: 14)
While a win is still missing, the high level of consistency exhibited by McMurray throughout the Chase bodes well for a team and an organization poised for big things in 2015.
14. Clint Bowyer (LW: 11)
If anyone can relate to Keselowski and the experience of what it's like when Gordon loses his temper, it'd be Bowyer. And wouldn't you know, coincidently the two-year anniversary of the epic Gordon vs. Bowyer brawl just so happens to be upon us.
15. Kurt Busch (LW: Unranked)
The sample size is obviously small (one race). However, just based off the radio conversations Sunday, Busch is obviously far more comfortable working with veteran Tony Gibson than he had been with Daniel Knost, a rookie crew chief who was ill-equipped to handle Busch's mercurial nature.