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. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 1): Only a true Vader-hater could make a case for Johnson dropping from the top spot after his Michigan win on Sunday. While it's impressive that Johnson was able to cross Michigan off the list of tracks he hadn't won at, it's imperative to also remember that he hasn't exactly been terrible there. He just has had some crappy luck. He had no such crappy luck on Sunday.
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 2): After finishing seventh, Junior said his team should have finished three or four spots better than they did. And he's probably right. He had a top-five car but as the strategy wheel spun around int he final third of the race, Junior's need for tires put him back in the pack. But hey, he's disappointed about a seventh place finish, just like another driver coming up soon was disappointed about getting second.
3. Jeff Gordon (LW: 3): We'll also continue the theme with Gordon, who said he felt sixth place wasn't indicative of the car that he had on Sunday. But guess what? That fabled track position reared its ugly head and Gordon never head it. Track position has always been a factor at Michigan, but without significant tire wear, its importance is expontially more than it once was. We're starting to move forward with our ideas for the Sandpaper Titan to manually age tracks. We'll be like the anti-Neutrogena wrinkle cream of NASCAR.
4. Kevin Harvick (LW: 4): Our From the Marbles sources told us that Harvick was singing this on the entire flight home from Michigan. "Clap along if you feel like second really stinks. Because I’m not happy. Clap along if you feel like happiness is a win. Because I'm not happy. Clap along if you know why I was really mad. Because I’m not happy. Clap along if you feel like I should have five or six wins."
5. Brad Keselowski (LW: 5): This is a really, really, really boring top five this week. That's what happens when the top five drivers finish in the top six. After the race, Keselowski (who finished third), said that the Hendrick-powered cars were a full-season ahead on horsepower compared to the rest of the field. It was clear on Sunday, as they led 163 of the race's 200 laps. Is the only thing that could derail their advantage anytime soon a significant engine format change for 2015?
6. Joey Logano (LW: 8): We needed to shake things up and this was about as shaky as we could get. Logano finished ninth and led 29 laps, though none of them were after lap 141, when he was passed by Kevin Harvick for the lead. It's becoming more and more clear that if there's a team and program able to compete with the Hendrick cars (and Kevin Harvick) for the title, it's Team Penske.
7. Matt Kenseth (LW: 6): Kenseth's relative lack of intermediate track speed is a symbol of how JGR feels they're a bit behind. And we say relative simply because when compared side-to-side, the only thing that's striking is his lack of wins. At non-restrictor plate Darlington-sized tracks and above this year he's finished 10th, 4th, 7th, 4th 10th, 3rd and 14th. Last year at those same tracks he was 1st, 7th, 12th, 1st, 1st, 15th and 6th.
8. Kyle Larson (LW: 10): Did Larson inspire a new wave of potential bumper damage for benefit with his Michigan performance? Rear-bumper damage isn't exactly groundbreaking (See Knaus, Chad at Talladega in 2011), but maybe Larson's run to eighth will usher in a new trend of purposeful spins necessitating a demolition of the back bumper cover. (Are you lost after reading the above graph? After spinning on lap 7, Larson had damage to the back bumper that could have been beneficial in terms of downforce and being able to create more speed.)
9. Paul Menard (LW: NR): Win a Nationwide race and finish fourth? Welcome to Power Rankings, PFM. After finishing third at Las Vegas and his Sunday finish at Michigan, Menard has the only top-fives for Richard Childress Racing all season. But they've been damn consistent. If the Chase started today, Menard and Ryan Newman would both be in and Austin Dillon would be just nine points out.
10. Jamie McMurray (LW: 10): Speaking of bumpers, McMurray didn't have a rear bumper at Pocono. Maybe this is a Ganassi thing? His car was intact on Sunday and he finished 12th. For as good as McMurray has looked in stretches this year, he's in a position where he's going to need a win to get to the Chase.
11. Carl Edwards (LW: 7): Sunday, the first time since 2000 that no Roush cars finished in the top 10 at Michigan. How crazy is that? Greg Biffle was 20th, Edwards was 23rd and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was 27th. If you're one of the people wondering if Edwards' finishes and his team's speed are impacting his contract negotiations, well, you're probably leaning towards a different team for 2015 at the moment.
12. Kasey Kahne (LW: NR): Is this the finish that gets Kasey Kahne going? His season has been abysmal, especially when compared to his teammates occupying the top three positions in the points stadings. But he's won before at Sonoma, run well at Kentucky and won at New Hampshire. He's got a good stretch coming up.
Lucky Dog: The third-highest finishing Ford at Michigan? Juan Pablo Montoya in his first NASCAR race of the year.
The DNF: A problem on the left-rear hub meant a 41st-place finish for Kyle Busch.
Dropped out: Busch, Denny Hamlin
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