Our Power Rankings are far from a scientific formula. In fact, it's the perfect blend of analytics and bias against your favorite driver. And you think we dislike your favorite driver, so it makes sense, right? Direct all your complaints to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Jeff Gordon: Sunday's race winner is also the points leader. And that race win was his fifth at Indianapolis, making him the winningest driver at the track. If you're complaining about Gordon's position here, then you have some serious issues. Or you simply like to complain. Those could be tied together, so you may want to have that checked out. (Why yes, we're feeling feisty today.)
2. Deal Earnhardt Jr.: Junior made up 14 positions throughout Sunday's race, which is the fourth-biggest jump of anyone. Usually, there are a fair amount of drivers who can move through the field during a race. But with Indy, it's almost impossible and why you saw the varying pit strategies throughout the race. We did chuckle when we saw the tweet from Junior's mother, however.
3. Brad Keselowski: Yes, we're going by chalk with the points standings so far, but here's the reasoning for Keselowski being in third. His run was thwarted by an ill-timed caution and he had to race his way back onto the lead lap. Thankfully he had a fast car, but it was a process made extremely difficult because of the importance of track position at Indianapolis. Keselowski ended up 12th, when he might have been top-five if it wasn't for the crazy pit stop cycles.
4. Jimmie Johnson: Example of how high Jimmie Johnson's standards are Volume 100: Johnson finished 14th and was a relative non-factor, but it felt like he finished 30th. He was off most of the day and really never climbed anywhere after starting 11th. There aren't many times that happens over the course of a season.
5. Matt Kenseth: Funny how the "Will Matt Kenseth win a race this year?" questions haven't nearly cranked up to the intensity that the questions about Johnson were at before he won a race. Maybe people have realized that Kenseth won't likely miss the Chase, especially with more fourth-place finishes? On that note, the only way a driver without a win misses the Chase is if the rest of the races before the Chase are won by first-time winners. And if that happens, one of them is going to be Kenseth, right?
6. Kevin Harvick: This was the first time that Harvick has finished lower than second after starting on the pole. The bright side is that Harvick didn't have any crazy pit miscues or bad luck to lose the race on Sunday. The bad news is that his team never got the car any better than it was on Saturday. Oh, and did we tell you it's hard to pass at Indianapolis?
7. Kyle Busch: That was a bit of a "where did he come from?" second place finish, wasn't it? Busch was pretty good throughout the race but wasn't great. He didn't lead any laps, but he stayed near the front of the field. And in fact, he was the only driver who started in the top 15 to makemore than a seven-position leap throughout the race.
8. Joey Logano: Logano's out-of-the-box pit strategy turned out to not be so crazy. He set off a strategy play by nearly every other team as teams started copying the strategy of working the race backwards to stop as few times as possible because of the impact of clean air at Indianapolis. And it paid off with a fifth-place finish thanks to Kasey Kahne's sputtering engine.
9. Denny Hamlin: The biggest what-if moment of the race comes from Hamlin. The last 30 laps may play out a lot differently if he doesn't have to pit early for fuel after his team didn't get the tank full on a pit stop. But there may be a second what-if moment as well if NASCAR penalizes Hamlin for issues with the rear firewall block-off plates that it found during inspection.
10. Ryan Newman: The defending race winner started fourth and finished 11th. Sadly – well, for our sake of hoping for a crazy statistical anomaly – Newman has finally recorded a top-five finish this year. After going through the first 16 races of the season without a top five and being in Chase contention, Newman has two in his las four races.
11. Carl Edwards: Are we going to look back at Edwards' 2014 and realize it was a bigger achievement than we thought given the level his Roush teammates are performing at? Neither Greg Biffle or Ricky Stenhouse Jr. look like they're going to win a race at any point this season and Edwards has two wins. Plus, he's nine spots ahead of Biffle in the standings and 19 ahead of Stenhouse.
12. Kyle Larson: Larson didn't seem too in awe of Indianapolis after finishing seventh. When he was asked about his first "Brickyard experience" he had a simple answer: "Yeah, I don't know. It was kind of just like any other race." Of course, Larson did go on to talk about the intensity of restarts, but that's pretty common at other tracks too.
Lucky Dog: Austin Dillon. After finishing 10th, Dillon still holds the last Chase spot ahead of Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and others. How crazy would it be if Dillon makes the Chase over those two names?
The DNF: Danica Patrick's broken axle made for a pretty sweet burnout.
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- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Matt Kenseth
- Jeff Gordon
- Jimmie Johnson
- Brad Keselowski