Atlanta Winners and Losers

NASCAR

The Labor Day weekend of racing produced some happy drivers as well as some not too pleased with their night at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Labor Day weekend of racing produced some happy drivers as well as some not too pleased with their night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Winners

Kyle Busch – Although he came up short in his Nationwide Series battle with Kevin Harvick on Friday night, Busch by no means left Atlanta empty handed. His fourth Sprint Cup Series win of the season Sunday night gave the No. 18 team about as much momentum it could possible have heading into the Chase.

Joey Logano – For the second straight week Logano rebounded from some early race problems this time a couple of less than stellar stops on pit road for service. But he roared back to finish third in the process may have locked himself into the Chase while teammate Brad Keselowski became a bystander.

Martin Truex Jr. – Somehow wrestled his car home to a third-place finish with a broken wrist and a cast that literally melted over the course of the 500-mile grind. Truex Jr. is in the driver’s seat for potentially at least a Wild Card berth if all the cards fall right next week in Richmond.

Kurt Busch – Capped off his big week with a fourth place effort and raced his way into the top 10 of the point standings. Busch has one more race to achieve the lofty goal of getting the single car Furniture Row Racing organization into the Chase, which would it itself be one of the greatest accomplishments in recent NASCAR history.

Jeff Gordon – Looked like he might be able to break into the win column early but the handing went away on the No. 24 Hendrick ride. Gordon was still able to fight through those ills and survive a run-in with Carl Edwards to keep himself within striking distance of a Chase spot with a sixth-place performance.

Losers

Brad Keselowski – His chances of running for a second straight championship are a long shot at best after Keselowski was sidelined with an engine problem Sunday night. His 35th-place finish dropped Keselowski to 11th in the standings and four behind teammate Logano for the final transfer spot. Without a win to his name, Keselowski has his work cut out in Richmond.

Clint Bowyer – For the second week in a row Bowyer was knocked out while leading. An “experimental” engine went south on the Michael Waltrip Racing driver on Sunday and he was left with a 39th place finish to show for the effort.

Denny Hamlin – His miserable season just keeps getting worse. Hamlin blew an engine in Saturday’s practice, was penalized for a pit road miscue and finally exited with another Toyota engine problem to hand the beleaguered Joe Gibbs Racing driver a 38th-place finish.

Kasey Kahne – Last week he was chastised by some for not taking Matt Kenseth out for the lead and win at Bristol. Sunday night Kahne saw any hopes of winning go out the window when he collided with other members of Hendrick Motorsports on a restart and severely damaged his No. 5 entry.

Jimmie Johnson – Was one of the unfortunate victims in the melee that involved Kahne and for a third consecutive race Johnson was eliminated from contention. It’s rare to see the five-time champion struggle so much especially with the Chase looming. Will he continue his woes or rebound by the time the playoffs roll around?

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