It's time for Power Rankings! After every race, we'll opine about who we think is at the top of the Sprint Cup heap and how and why they got there. Remember, this isn't scientific, as our formula is the perfect blend of analytics and bias against your favorite driver. So let's get on with it now, shall we?1. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 1):
Johnson recovered nicely from his practice crash and steadily started moving towards the front as soon as the green flag fell. Hell, he was in the top 10 when he started to have engine issues. That's why he gets to stay at the top again this week. Well, maybe it's more because no one else wants to take the top spot from Jimmie yet again.2. Kurt Busch (LW: 11):
Oh why not, right? Who else was going to go here? Three straight top 10s have put Busch in the Chase without having to have a win and his future racing destination is now the silly season topic du jour. And this time, Busch's performance and conduct mean he's got many more options.3. Kevin Harvick (LW: 8):
Lots of movement at the top this week, and Harvick moves back up after three straight finishes outside the top 10. Cupcake got close to Logano over the final laps but wasn't able to get close enough to make a challenge, and when Logano inherited the lead, Harvick's best-case scenario was where he ended up.
4. Kasey Kahne (LW: 5): As the highest finishing Hendrick car, Kahne gets to move up a spot this week. The seventh was good for his Chase chances -- Kahne moved up a spot to 11th -- though he never challenged for the lead. And given that Jeff Gordon was the only other Hendrick driver in the top 20, being the highest finishing Hendrick car wasn't too much of an achievement.5. Kyle Busch (LW: 2):
And once again, the streak lives. Busch was running near the back of the top 10 when he spun and crashed in turn 2. After the team fixed the damage, he spun again, and then his race ended while he was limping the car to pit road with a cut tire.
6. Carl Edwards (LW: 3): Being dropped three spots after finishing 10th is harsh, but Edwards needs to get it in gear if he's going to be mentioned among guys with a championship shot when the Chase begins. He's having a great points season, no doubt, but right now it's one of those seasons that may be a top half Chase finish and nothing more.7. Matt Kenseth (LW: 6):
Kenseth is still on track to start the Chase tied with Johnson, but right now, where would you rank him amongst the 12 driver field? It certainly wouldn't be a surprise if Kenseth won the championship, but it'd be one if he opened Chase betting as a top three favorite.8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 4):
Four spots may be harsh for Junior too after he ran well (again) at Michigan and suffered a cut tire, ending his chances at a win. However, he's now getting awfully close to that Chase bubble line. Yes, he's still got a very good shot at making it in, but thinking the opposite was, well, unthinkable a few weeks ago.9. Clint Bowyer (LW: 9):
From first lap spin to fifth place finish. Not shabby at all, and a nice follow up to Watkins Glen. With Johnson's troubles, the gap between he and Bowyer is now less than a full race's worth of points. Just think, Clint could be leading the points after Bristol!10. Joey Logano (LW: NR):
We like to put more stock in the most recent events, so it's a natural tendency to feel that Logano's victory is somehow more significant for the Chase than Martin Truex Jr.'s or Ryan Newman's. But taking recency out of the equation, it's not all that crazy to like Logano's Chase chances the best.11. Ryan Newman (LW: 7):
As long as Truex was inside the top 10, Newman had nothing to worry about as long as a winless driver in 11th-20th didn't get a win. Oops. Now Logano has that win and Truex is out of the top 10. The only scenario that now has Newman likely controlling his own destiny? Winning another race.
12. Brad Keselowski (LW: 10):
Safe trumped aggressive in back-to-back weeks for Keselowski, though there was much more of an immediate risk to the potential reward at Michigan. A 12th place finish held serve for @Kes, and he's heading to one of his best tracks.
Lucky Dog: Yes, that really was Paul Menard near the front of the field in the final laps. PFM finished fourth.
The DNF: In the non-Hendrick division the award goes to Bobby Labonte, who finished 35th after a cut tire and spin a week after AJ Allmendinger got the team's first top 10 of the year.
Dropped Out: Martin Truex Jr.
NASCAR video from Yahoo! Sports:
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