Dale Earnhardt, Jr. made another statement as to why he’s a top contender to win the 2014 Sprint Cup Championship Sunday, sweeping both races at Pocono and scoring his third win of the season. To put this year’s performance into perspective, Junior won only one race in the past five seasons.
It was an up and down day for the top Power Ranking vote-getters after Indianapolis. Although six of the Power Rankings’ top 10 finished inside the top 10 Sunday afternoon, a number of drivers were not able to capitalize at the second-consecutive flat track. Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth all finished outside the top 20 for a combination of reasons including tire failure, crash damage and engine issues.
Only five races remain until the top 16 are locked into The Chase and a number of drivers expected to win during the regular season are still winless. Teams head North to the final road course of the season at Watkins Glen, New York. See how your favorite driver ranks after the second stop at the Tricky Triangle.
How The Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football. Our expert stable of NASCAR writers, both on staff and from other major publications will vote for the Top 20 on a 20-19-18-17… 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first-place driver, 19 for second, and so on. In the end, Mike Mehedin calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and… here you go!
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Athlete struggles to regain former greatness. Athlete meets girl. Girl changes his life around. Athlete back on top again. Is Earnhardt living a Harlequin romance novel? Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com
First Place Votes: 5
Won championships when he was known as “Wonder Boy”. Can he win it known as “Big Daddy”? Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com
First Place Votes: 5
I have to believe that this team has worked out the mechanical issues and are starting to clean up their act on pit road. Just in time too, as the Chase is near and Harvick will be a big factor. Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com
Hard to believe we’re four years removed from, “Who wears the firesuit in the family?” The answer isn’t even the same anymore. Clearly it’s Keelan Harvick. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
Looks like nobody can stop Keselowski from claiming the championship. Oh wait, that was so three weeks ago. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
Quite simply the most amazing consistency of anybody, WITHOUT event sniffing a win. He’ll be in the Chase. The question is, how long will he stay? Jim Noble, ESPN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/PRN
We’ve seen the story before. Johnson and the No. 48 team appear to be going through their annual Summer swoon heading to the Chase. Odds are they are probably in R&D mode right now, but the tire failures are becoming an epidemic that must be solved. Knowing Johnson and Chad Knaus, they’ll have everything in order at exactly the right time. Justin Tucker, Frontstretch.com
Let’s see: 75 point penalty, losing your crew chief, losing your car chief, throwing your engine department under the bus on the radio and causing a wreck that wipes out a quarter of the field. Yeah, I’d say that’s a bad week. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
Impressive run at Pocono. Here we go: Clint gets on a roll, goes to Richmond within striking distance of the Chase…and then the stories begin. Jim Noble, ESPN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/PRN
Although Kenseth doesn’t have a stellar record at Pocono to begin with, an accident just adds to his disappointing season, and with only five races left to the Chase, he’s lucky to be the highest driver in points without a win. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com
Says “something between the frame rails” wasn’t running right at Pocono. Does that mean if he loses the Chase again we can say “something between the frame rails” wasn’t working right inside his head? Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
A storybook rise to the Sprint Cup Series by Kyle Larson will likely lead to Victory Lane soon. Larson would create a golden chapter if he gets a win in the next five races and makes the Chase. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Kahne’s finally finding something resembling decent form in recent weeks. While Watkins Glen will probably stunt that a little, it’s good to see the improved form. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
Roush Fenway Racing is the Titanic. Greg Biffle is the band that continues playing cheerful music until the very end. Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com
We kept being told that the No. 3 team would be much better the second time around at these tracks. OK, let’s start seeing it. Jim Noble, ESPN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/PRN
Others Receiving Votes: Kurt Busch (55), Carl Edwards (52), Jamie McMurray (49), Marcos Ambrose (20), Casey Mears (17), Aric Almirola (9), Tony Stewart (8), Brian Vickers (5), Justin Allgaier (5), Paul Menard (4), David Gilliland (1)