The spotlight during the Chase for the Sprint Cup is usually reserved for the 12- or in this year’s case, 13- drivers who make the cut to compete for the championship.
For the second week in a row, however, that attention has turned to one of NASCAR’s other stars, and this past weekend in Talladega that driver was Jamie McMurray.
In fact, six of Sunday’s top ten finishers are not in the 2013 Chase.
McMurray snapped a 108 race winless streak after winning Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 500 after being pushed to the lead on lap 174 by Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
On the last lap, rookies Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. made contact with Austin Dillon, who was subbing for the injured Tony Stewart, sending the No. 14 Chevy into the air. Dillon also collected Casey Mears, but both drivers walked away unscathed. The incident froze the field, and handed the victory to McMurray.
“At plate tracks, to get the right line, it requires a lot of risk, and I felt like I was pretty patient all day, and I saw the 17 (Stenhouse, Jr.) and the 88 (Earnhardt, Jr.) coming on the top,” McMurray said in Victory Lane. “It just seemed the top was the better place to get hung out than if you got hung out on the bottom. Fortunately, I was able to get into position.”
Behind McMurray and Earnhardt, Jr. was the aforementioned Stenhouse, Jr., who earned his first top five of his Sprint Cup career with his third place result. Paul Menard ended the day in fourth.
For the third time in four weeks, Kyle Busch comes home with a top five, which moves him up one spot to third in points, taking the spot from Kevin Harvick, who ended his day in Talladega with a 12th place finish.
David Ragan, who won at Talladega in May, and David Gilliland finished sixth and seventh. Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer finished out the top ten.
Jimmie Johnson, who led a race high 47 laps, finished 13th and takes over the points lead going into Martinsville. He leads the standings by four points over Matt Kenseth, who finished 20th.
There are just four races remaining in the 2013 Sprint Cup Chase to the Championship, and next up is the historic and always unpredictable Martinsville Speedway. Coverage of the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 Powered by Kroger begins Sunday at 1:30 pm Eastern time on ESPN and MRN Radio.
Thanks to NASCAR on ESPN, ESPN.com, NASCAR.com, Racing Reference, USA Today and Sporting News for the statistics, quotes and information used in this piece.