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 [email protected]
1. Kevin Harvick (LW: 2): if only Harvick would have thrown a huge block on Kyle Busch as Busch made the move to get his lap back before the next-to-final caution. He could have won the race. But let’s be real, there was no way that he realized the move Busch was making was going to be the winning pass. After all of the cries from drivers to throw a caution because of oil on the track, you can’t blame them if they thought the caution was never going to fly. Harvick ended up third.
2. Kyle Busch (LW: 3): Ahead of Jimmie Johnson? Why not. Power Rankings are more about what drivers have done lately, and Busch has won three of four races and is 58 points back of 30th. But we do feel the need to douse some cold water on the Chase talk. Busch still has a ways to go to get into the top 30. Despite the run of recent form he’s still only cut his points per race deficit by a third (from 12 points per race on 30th to 8). If he loses 10 points to 30th on Sunday at Indianapolis, his deficit is suddenly 68 points with six races to go and back to over 11 points per race. It’s easier to fall than it is to climb.
3. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 1): A speeding penalty under green meant Johnson’s day was pretty much toast from then on. He ended up finishing 22nd, the first car one lap down. Hell, if there would have been a caution before the last lap of the race, Johnson probably would have fought back and finished 15th or so. Instead, it was one of the rare races of 2015 where the race’s caution flags didn’t play out in favor of the No. 48. How fascinating would it be if Johnson won Sunday’s race to tie Jeff Gordon with five Brickyard 400s?
4. Joey Logano (LW: 4): If the Gibbs cars have been the fastest of the two weeks, the Penske cars are a close second. After finishing second at Kentucky, Logano was fourth at New Hampshire. And since Johnson had a bad day and finished 22nd, Logano now has second place all to himself in the standings. Though he’s a whopping 69 points behind Harvick. If there wasn’t a Chase, the championship would be heading to a very early clinch.
5. Kurt Busch (LW: 5): Busch salvaged a top 10 out of Sunday’s race. He wasn’t one of the fastest cars on the track throughout the duration of the race, but he certainly wasn’t in any danger of losing a lap. He was clearly the second-fastest Stewart-Haas Racing car, but it’s also necessary to point out Tony Stewart finished 20th and Danica Patrick finished 24th. Busch should be a top pick for Sunday at Indy.
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 7): Junior finished fifth at New Hampshire and now has the most top five finishes at the track without a win. In 32 career starts at the one-mile track he’s got eight top fives and 15 top-10 finishes. He’s finished in the top 10 four-straight times and that bodes well for the Chase race in September. If he makes it five straight he’s likely moving on to the second round of the Chase.
7. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 6): It’s time to panic. Truex finished outside the top 10 again. One of those statements is false. One is true. Which one is it? After finishing 12th, Truex now has 14 top 10s in 19 races after having 14 top-10s in 15 races. Truex was on an unsustainable top-10 pace, so this “slump” should be seen as nothing more than a regression to the mean. If the lack of top 10s becomes a drought before the Chase begins, then we can mention the p-word in serious terms.
8. Brad Keselowski (LW: 11): Keselowski was frustrated after the race despite his second-place finish. And do you blame him? He felt he had the best car and led 101 laps, the most of anyone. And even Kyle Busch said he had the third-best car of the day. While Keselowski is pretty much in the Chase becase of his win, a win on Sunday would have served as affirmation for the No. 2 given the circumstances of that first win.
9. Jeff Gordon (LW: 9): The Gordon tributes will be rocking at Indianapolis all weekend, especially since Gordon won in 2014. And while we mentioned the intrigue if Johnson tied Gordon on Sunday, what if Gordon won his sixth Indianapolis race in his final start to essentially clinch a Chase berth? After a season that hasn’t been a fairytale farewell it’d be a crazy pivot point.
10. Denny Hamlin (LW: 8): Hamlin wasn’t as fast as his teammates all day but got all the way up to fourth on the final restart of the day. He wasn’t able to maintain his position after a two-tire pit stop and finished 14th. Now he’s heading back to the scene of his Indianapolis crime. Or improperly fastened firewall block-off plates. Hamlin was fined 75 points for the infraction and lost then-crew chief Darian Grubb for six races. We’re going to guess those plates may get triple-checked this weekend.
11. Matt Kenseth (LW: 12): Kenseth finished sixth and his career statistics at New Hampshire are basically like Junior’s. Kenseth has seven top fives and 16 top-10 finishes in 31 races. Oh, and one win. Kenseth is going to stay down here all sneaky until he wins another race or two before the Chase. And then he’ll still be considered a not-so-big favorite for the title and will still make the final eight. Mark it down.
12. Carl Edwards (LW: NR): Edwards’ SportClips sponsorship got us thinking on Twitter on Sunday. Which sponsorship would have the lamest freebies? While everyone needs haircuts, would you really want haircuts for free given the possibilities of freebies from other sponsors? If we’re ranking the sponsor swag, Jamie McMurray’s Cessna sponsorship is near the top of the list. Anything involving insurance is pretty high too.
Lucky Dog: Austin Dillon’s 8th-place finish was his second top 10 in three races and his third of the season.
The DNF: He finished the race, but Clint Bowyer’s day wasn’t exactly a good one. He ended up 34th.
Dropped Out: Jamie McMurray
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