Joey Logano's triumph in the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Monday marks the seventh different winner in seven races to open the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup campaign.
NASCAR's official Twitter account confirmed the thrilling finish:
The result has also created a wide-open competition atop the Chase standings heading into Saturday night's action under the lights at Darlington Raceway. Carl Edwards is 12 points back of points leader Jeff Gordon, but he currently sits atop the Chase race thanks to his victory at Bristol last month. (Keep in mind that the new Chase format puts a premium on winning races.) But Logano, Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. aren't far behind.
Below we'll take a closer look at the latest Sprint Cup standings and look ahead to the remaining race schedule.
|2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings|
|4||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||228||-31||1|
|Top 16 drivers qualify for the Chase|
|2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule (Races 8-26)|
|Sat, April 12||Bojangles Southern 500||Darlington Raceway||6:30 p.m.||Fox|
|Sat, April 26||Toyota Owners 400||Richmond International Raceway||7 p.m.||Fox|
|Sun, May 4||Aaron's 499||Talladega Superspeedway||1 p.m.||Fox|
|Sat, May 10||Kansas 400||Kansas Speedway||7:30 p.m.||Fox|
|Fri, May 16||Sprint Showdown||Charlotte Motor Speedway||7 p.m.||Fox Sports 1|
|Sat, May 17||NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race||Charlotte Motor Speedway||9 p.m.||Fox Sports 1|
|Sun, May 25||Coca-Cola 600||Charlotte Motor Speedway||6 p.m.||Fox|
|Sun, June 1||FedEx 400||Dover International Speedway||1 p.m.||Fox|
|Sun, June 8||Pocono 400||Pocono Raceway||1 p.m.||TNT|
|Sun, June 15||Quicken Loans 400||Michigan International Speedway||1 p.m.||TNT|
|Sun, June 22||Toyota-Save Mart 350||Sonoma||3 p.m.||TNT|
|Sat, June 28||Quaker State 400||Kentucky Speedway||7:30 p.m.||TNT|
|Sat, July 5||Coke Zero 400||Daytona International Speedway||7:30 p.m.||TNT|
|Sun, July 13||Camping World RV Sales 301||New Hampshire Motor Speedway||1 p.m.||TNT|
|Sun, July 27||Crown Royal 400||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun, Aug. 3||GoBowling.com 400||Pocono Raceway||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun, Aug. 10||Cheez-It 355 at The Glen||Watkins Glen International||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun, Aug. 17||Pure Michigan 400||Michigan International Speedway||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sat, Aug. 23||Irwin Tools Night Race||Bristol Motor Speedway||7:30 p.m.||ABC|
|Sun, Aug. 31||AdvoCare 500||Atlanta Motor Speedway||7:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sat, Sept. 6||Federated Auto Parts 400||Richmond International Raceway||7:30 p.m.||ABC|
Up Next: Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway
Following a short week off as a result of weekend rain in Texas, the sport's top drivers will head to Darlington, S.C. this weekend for the eighth race of the season.
Typically run on Mother's Day weekend, the track "too tough to tame" has been moved up the schedule in 2014 to improve the fan experience, according to track president Chip Wile per the Associated Press:
We all believe in Darlington's future...I think this is our new date, moving forward. We want to have a consistent date that people can get their minds wrapped around. Mother's Day did work for us. But I think this will be better.
The lower temperatures experienced in mid-April as opposed to mid-May are expected to make for a better overall fan experience. Plus, Wile and NASCAR hope to attract local college race fans, who are usually busy with exams and graduation in May.
But regardless of whether you're watching trackside or at home in your living room, Saturday night's race promises to feature plenty of surprises.
With no dominant driver emerging through the first seven races of 2014, it's anyone's guess as to who will head to victory lane this weekend. Matt Kenseth won this race a year ago but is still searching for his first victory of the new season, settling for three consecutive top-10 finishes.
Kyle Busch is another driver to watch for this coming weekend. Busch picked up a win at California last month and is coming off an impressive third place finish at Texas on Monday.
Not to mention he's run well at Darlington in each of the past two years, finishing fourth in 2012 and sixth last year.
With only 19 points races remaining on the schedule until the Chase begins in mid-September, things are beginning to heat up in the Sprint Cup series and Saturday night's race under the lights in Darlington could go a long way in determining which driver hoists the series title at season's end.
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