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. Matt Kenseth (LW: 1): No, we're not asking Kenseth to blow an engine or for Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus to start a feud that ends with Chad driving the No. 48 hauler out of Talladega and leaving Johnson without a car. But someone do something to give us some variety. Speaking of non-variety. Kenseth finished in the top five again at Charlotte. Away we go to number two.
2. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 2): Chad Knaus's Reddit AMA was fun if you missed it. And because of it, we now know why he is an emotionless human being who thinks about car setups every waking moment of his day. But you know what? Even if Chad drove Jimmie's hauler out of Talladega and Johnson was without a car, Johnson would just go get Junior's backup and win, paint scheme and everything intact. Can we make this happen?
3. Kevin Harvick (LW: 3): The Harvick is going to drive in 12 races for JR Motorsports next year in the Nationwide Series. That has absolutely nothing to do with the Chase right now but it was announced on Monday. If you're a Harvick fan you better get this camo shirt while it's hot and on sale so that everyone can't see and know you were a fan of his when he was at RCR.
4. Jeff Gordon (LW: 4): While looking for that sweet Harvick shirt linked above, I was really hoping this shirt still only had 12 drivers. Alas, it has 13. But you can see they added Gordon's number to the middle row off to the right like "yeah, OK, he's here too." Does anyone have a Chase t-shirt like this without Gordon on it? Hit us up. Guess is that there are a ton of them in eastern Europe right now.
5. Kyle Busch: (LW: 5): Mr. Busch was not happy after Saturday night's race. He finished fifth, and words in his post-race transcript included "pretty frustrating," "it certainly stinks" and "we need wins and we can't win." Yeah, it's easy to say that Busch is acting spoiled here, but he's understandably seething. He's running well, but not well enough. It's one thing to mess up and get your butt kicked. But it's another to perform well and have it happen.
6. Brad Keselowski (LW: NR): This is the closest we can get to a shakeup without randomly ranking the 12 best start and parks of all time. (Future Power Rankings idea?) And it's fun to have Brad right behind Kyle because we can metaphorically make Power Rankings Kyle look behind his back and see Brad right there. Random thought: Keselowski restarted right behind Busch late in the race. If he wasn't going for his first win of the year, would revenge have been a serious thought?
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 7): Anyone listen to the new Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. album? Pretty good. It's a shame that they're not the type of music that's popular at Talladega, or otherwise they'd be a great idea for a pre-race concert. Hell, any track should get them to do a concert. Think of the "best homemade Junior items" contest they could have. I want royalties when this idea is executed, ISC and SMI.
8. Kurt Busch (LW: 6): This Busch was disappointed too because after finishing second at Kansas, he was 14th at Charlotte. But hey, he's driving a Wonder Bread car this week. Can we get a kickstarter going to fund Busch re-enacting the invisible fire scene from Talladega Nights? Please? You know you want in.
9. Carl Edwards (LW: 10): Edwards' 10th place finish is good enough for a spot higher in Power Rankings. And is there really anything else to say right here? Does anyone else wonder if Carl will get a Talladega win as some karmic retribution for flying into the catchfence? Not that we're blaming Keselowski for that -- that wasn't intentional, it just seems that a crash like that would get you a win down the line from the Talladega spirits.
10. Clint Bowyer (LW: 11): The biggest team penalties keep getting bigger with the announcement that MWR is going to be down to two full-time cars next year. Bowyer's one of them and while it may be natural to think that he's the one who deserves to be out instead of Martin Truex Jr., don't think that way. Bowyer (and Brian Vickers) was doing what his bosses told him to do.
11. Ryan Newman (LW: NR): Here's something interesting. Remember when Ryan Newman dissed his pit crew after Richmond when he initially thought he missed the Chase? Well, he hasn't apologized to them. Why? Because they haven't apologized to him for the slow stop. Yeesh. Yeah, he laughed as he said it, but that wouldn't be happening if Newman wasn't leaving the team at the end of the year.
12. David Ragan (LW: NR): Want to get ready for Talladega? Let's relive the last couple laps of the May race. That was one hell of a charge by Ragan and his teammate David Gilliland and how fun would it be if they did it again in October? Two non-Chaser wins in two weeks? What would our NASCAR world be coming to?
Lucky Dog: Denny Hamlin finished ninth. That was his first top 10 since Pocono in June. Think about that for a second.
The DNF: JJ Yeley. Yeah it's October and all that, but pink and camo? That car might have crashed out of sheer ugliness.
Dropped Out: Greg Biffle, Paul Menard.