A year ago, Jamie McMurray led the Sprint Cup Series standings for one week of the regular season and Kevin Harvick led the next 25. It's been a lot more competitive this year.
Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch all have taken their turns atop the standings in the first eight races. Even more telling is the fact seven different organizations are ranked among the top 10.
"It's what NASCAR always strives for, is the parity amongst manufacturers, the teams, of course," Kurt Busch said.
"It could be just random circumstances that we have the situation we have with points right now. For us being the only Dodge, we have to go out and carry that banner the best we can, make sure they're being held up to the standard that they need to be, and is comparable with the rest of the group. We have a championship car. We have a championship team. We just need to continue to do that."
The parity in NASCAR also includes all four manufacturers being ranked among the top six.
Edwards has been out front the most, leading after races at Daytona Beach, Fla., Southern California, Texas and Talladega, Ala.
"Right now, the Roush cars (Ford) seem to be pretty strong with (Carl) Edwards winning right out of the box, watching even the 6 car (David Ragan ) gain some speed," Kurt Busch said.
"That shows that those guys definitely have an edge right now. But you're always competing against the Chevrolets. They always seem to be the cars to beat just because of quantity. "
LONG SHOTS: The days of drivers working their way through the local short tracks to NASCAR are getting more difficult, especially with the continued crossover of racers from other series.
Formula 1 champion Kimi Raikkonen is the newest to land in NASCAR. He will make selected starts for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series with hopes of eventually getting to the Sprint Cup level.
Added with Tony Stewart (Indy cars), Jeff Gordon (USAC open wheels), Ryan Newman (USAC), Kasey Kahne (USAC), Robby Gordon (off road), Ricky Carmichae l (motocross), Juan Pablo Montoya (Indy cars and Formula 1), Danika Patrick (Indy cars), AJ Allmendinger (Indy cars) and Nelson Piquet Jr. (Formula 1), Raikkonen joins a long list of crossovers.
OPENING ACT: Talladega Superspeedway's loss was Atlanta Motor Speedway's gain. Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd were never asked to play at Talladega, but they accepted an invitation to do a pre-race concert before the Sept. 4 race at Atlanta. The band is certain to play Sweet Home Alabama . Atlanta couldn't resist rubbing it in by posting a billboard on Interstate 20 leading into Talladega last week that read: "Sweet Home Atlanta Motor Speedway. Lynyrd Skynyrd. Sept. 4."