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.
This week, we're going to roll with the top 10 drivers in the Nationwide Series. It's not a protest against the All-Star Race by any means, but it just seems superfluous to rank drivers off a non-points race. Sorry Jamie McMurray, if you want to get into Power Rankings again this year, you're going to need to avoid your points-race bad luck.
Let's get started. It's no surprise who's at No. 1
1. Chase Elliott: You're the only Nationwide driver to win multiple races this season, Chase? Welcome to the top of our semi-annual Nationwide Series Power Rankings! Elliott has taken to the series faster than many (any?) expected, and that could be to his detriment. Lots of folks are enamored with him -- and eight top 10s in 10 races is a valid reason for doing so -- however, patience should still reign. 10 races shouldn't be enough to spur serious "move him up to Cup!" talk.
2. Regan Smith: Speaking of top 10s, Elliott's teammate has finished in the top 10 in every race this season. He won the season-opening race at Daytona (that miraculously finished without a last-lap crash) and has been cruising along ever since. However, is it fair to ask if Smith and the No. 7 team have been off a tick? Seven of those top 10s are seventh and below.
3. Elliott Sadler: Is this the year for Elliott Sadler? Is there ever going to be a year for Elliott Sadler? Those are two questions looming this year as well. Sadler's found a niche in the Nationwide Series, finishing second, second and fourth in his three years since moving down from the Cup Series. But there's always been something to derail the title hopes. Will 2014 make it four-for-four?
4. Trevor Bayne: T-Bayne was leading the Nationwide standings until he fell to fifth after a 23rd place finish. He's still fifth now, a perfect example of the lack of depth in the series among Nationwide regulars. Other than that finish, Bayne hasn't finished lower than 11th, yet he's 36 points out of the lead. Hence why bad finishes throughout Sadler's Nationwide tenure have crippled his title chances.
5. Ty Dillon: Much like Smith above, Dillon's performance makes you wonder if his team is missing a little something too and he's fourth in the standings. His highest finish was sixth at Bristol and everything else has been in the 6-15th range. It's a step down from the consistency that won brother Austin Dillon the series title last year; though we're going to bet Ty Dillon wins a race this year.
6. Sam Hornish Jr.: This is the only year Hornish is going to be running a part-time NASCAR schedule, right? He picked up from where he left off last year at Iowa, beating Ryan Blaney for the win on Sunday, and finished fifth at Talladega in the previous race. Hornish has five more races in the No. 54 and don't be surprised if he wins another race or two.
7. Brian Scott: Here's where the drop-off begins for amongst full-time drivers. All the drivers running a full schedule ahead of Scott have a 70 percent top-10 finish rate. Scott's is at 30 percent with just three top 10s. A crash at Talladega basically eliminated any chance Scott had of winning the series title, but it'll take a bunch of calamities to prevent him from finishing in the top 10 for the fourth straight year.
8. Landon Cassill: Driving for long-time Nationwide Series team owner Johnny Davis, Cassill has finished in the top 10 in the past two races. He's 10th in the standings despite a miserable two races at Texas and California, where he had mechanical issues. How remarkable are those top-10s? In 590 race starts, JD Motorsports has 12 of them.
9. Chris Buescher: Buescher is ahead of Cassill in the standings despite failing to qualify at Daytona, where his team didn't have owner's points to fall back on and the session was shortened by rain. Since then, Buescher has three top 10s and finished second at Talladega to Elliott Sadler.
10. Brendan Gaughan: We pretty much know what Gaughan is as a driver at this point, right? He's hovered in the back-half of the top 10 for most of the season despite two crashes and will probably stay there. He may challenge for a race win at some point this year, and he'll accumulate enough top 15 finishes to stay where he is in the points.
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