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Geico 500 proves a highlight day for several lesser-known drivers

josh wise daytona getty

Sprint Cup veteran Josh Wise had a career-best 10th-place finish Sunday at Talladega, one of several drivers that excelled with career bests or close to it.

Sunday was a day where a lot of typical names had some atypical finishes – both bad and good in the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Drivers who typically do well but had not-so-good showings included pole-sitter Jeff Gordon (finished 31st), Carl Edwards (32nd), Joey Logano (33rd), Greg Biffle (37th), David Ragan (38th) and Kyle Larson (42nd).

On the flip side, there were a number of drivers who had some of the strongest – if not indeed the strongest – finishes of their Sprint Cup careers.

Let’s break down those standout finishes:

Ryan Blaney (fourth): Career-best finish in six career Sprint Cup starts. Also first top 10 of his career. … Previous best Cup finish was 19th (Las Vegas in March).

MORE: Like father, like son at Talladega — but it’s Blaney, not Earnhardt

Sam Hornish Jr. (sixth): Tied for fourth-best finish in Sprint Cup. … Best finish of 2015 season. … Best overall finish since a fifth at Watkins Glen in 2012.

“It was a really good day,” Hornish said. “This is only my second restrictor-plate race back in the Cup Series in almost five years, so I feel like it was a good thing for us to try to be smart and follow people a little bit more than trying to be the leader. As time goes by you get a little bit more respect and a little bit more help.”

Josh Wise (10th): Career-best finish and first top 10 in 113 starts. … His previous best Sprint Cup finish also was at Talladega (19th, spring 2013).

Cole Whitt (13th): Career-best finish in 60 career Sprint Cup starts. … His previous best finish was also at Talladega (15th, fall 2014).

“I’m glad Josh (Wise) had a good run, a couple of underdog Fords got up there and get some good finishes,” Whitt said. “That’s what Talladega is for, so I’m just happy we could get a good run and hopefully we can get some momentum built for the year because I think we can get back on those top 25s. I know we can run, we just have to start proving it.”

JJ Yeley (14th): Best career finish since 2013, when he recorded a 10th in the Daytona 500, and returned 4 ½ months later to finish 13th in the Coke Zero 400.

Alex Bowman (16th): Second-best finish in Sprint Cup career. … Best showing of 2015 (previous was 20th in April at Bristol). … Best overall since career-best 13th in 2014 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.

Matt DiBenedetto (18th): Career-best Sprint Cup finish. … Rookie has made seven starts in 2015 with previous best finish of 21st at Bristol.

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