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. Joey Logano (LW: 1): Trying to figure out how the first spot should be assigned this week is tough. You'll see that as we go along. That's why we're going to keep Logano here. He was heading for a top-five finish had Paul Menard not pinched he and Kevin Harvick into the wall on the next-to-last restart. (We're not blaming Menard, that's just what happened.) Instead, Logano finished 14th.
2. Jeff Gordon (LW: 2): Jeff Gordon finished three spots south of Logano, so you can't make the argument that Gordon should leap over him. Gordon had a fast car throughout the race, but he never got to the front of the field before he had a tire failure and thus was the end of his race. Hell of a fight to get back to the top spot, however. His car was still fast. He just didn't have the track position.
3. Kevin Harvick (LW: 5): Can we all agree that the thing that ran in front of Harvick's car while he was leading early in the race was not a squirrel? It was way too big of a blur to be a squirrel. Harvick could be a contender for the top spot, but it got all Harvicked up and ended up 19th. Yes, Harvick's name is a verb now. We're comfortable with the sample size of great runs that have ended less than optimally this season.
4. Matt Kenseth (LW 6): Looking for the epitome of nothing to lose when it comes to the new Chase format? Matt Kenseth was it. The No. 20 team knew that it wasn't going to win the race and it also knew that it was going to clinch into the Chase barring a catastrophe. So why not take two tires on the final pit stop and get a shot of clean air steroids to see what happens? It wasn't too far off from working.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 4): Given the finishes that many of the top drivers had on Sunday night, Junior's 11th is a success and would have served him well in the Chase. But we've still got another week before the Chase starts, and we're simply at the point where 11th means nothing in the Chase scheme of things. Let's get to where things count in Chicago.
6. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 7): That was a pretty quiet fourth-place finish for Jimmie Johnson, eh? Johnson hardly spent any time at the front of the field but by the time the race was nearing its conclusion he was right there. You're not going to be able to ignore any other finishes like that for Johnson the rest of the season.
7. Brad Keselowski (LW: 3): The same thing goes with Keselowski. He's locked into the Chase via the new format or the old format, so these races are mostly bonus point quests. And his quest got derailed when there was a pit road jam-up ahead of him and he ended up with some left front fender damage and a kiss of the wall.
8. Kasey Kahne (LW: NR): Kahne's win Sunday night to get him into the Chase is not a product of the new Chase format. If the old format was still in place, Kahne would have sealed a berth with the win. He's 11th in the points standings and would be in position to lock up a Wild Card spot at Richmond. But it's not the old format, so he's officially in now. It's the third straight year, thanks to last year's Chase expansion to 13 cars, that Hendrick Motorsports has had all four cars in the Chase.
9. Carl Edwards (LW: 9): Serious question. Did you know that Carl Edwards finished fifth? If Jimmie Johnson had a quiet fourth, then Carl Edwards crept into your entire neighborhood, stole every television and walked out without a single person waking up and noticing. Impressive stuff.
10. Ryan Newman (LW: NR): Welcome to the 2014 Chase, Ryan Newman. All you have to do is show up at Richmond and basically not start-and-park. You can do that, right? And how does it feel to not have much stress this weekend? It's gonna take a race manipulation of massive and epic proportions to get you out of the Chase. We don't trust Michael Waltrip Racing to hatch a plan successful enough to dislodge you.
11. Greg Biffle (LW: 10): Hey Greg, all you have to dois prevent Kyle Larson from gaining 20 points on you and Clint Bowyer from gaining 23 and hope there's a repeat winner. You can do that, right? Oh, what's that? You've never won at a short track? Yeah, that could make things a tad tricky. Your average finish at Richmond is 17th. If you do that, you're fine barring a new winner.
12. Danica Patrick (LW: NR): Here's where we give Danica a shoutout for her career-best finish in the Sprint Cup Series. While Patrick's standing was boosted by the late restart kerfuffle on the outside lane, you could argue that her performance driving through the field at Atlanta was better than staying near the front all evening at Kansas.
Lucky Dog: Outside of Kevin Harvick, is Denny Hamlin the biggest boom-or-bust Chase driver?
The DNF: It's not a DNF, but what the heck, Kyle Busch? Or is this a master plan to get the bad stuff out of the way before the Chase begins?
Dropped Out: Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer
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