Team Penske continued their dominating performance during the Chase as Joey Logano captured his fifth win of the season, second in the Chase and locked himself into the eight driver Eliminator Round. The Penske duo of Logano and Brad Keselowski have combined to win three of the first four Chase races.
Many thought Talladega would be the wild card race in the Contender Round. After Kansas, however, a number of Chase drivers have used their “mulligan” including Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kasey Kahne and Keselowski, who were all involved in accidents. Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon had issues but were able to rally and finish 12th, 13th and 14th, respectively. Four drivers (Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman) from the top 10 in Power Rankings after Dover finished in the top 10 at Kansas, and only three of them are in the Contender Round of the Chase.
The four drivers currently outside of the top 8 in points are as follows:
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
A number of teams are looking for better results this weekend at Charlotte, as they are all aware what looms next weekend at Talladega. Before the sparks fly Saturday night under the lights, see if your favorite driver survived Kansas and made the top 15.
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!
Remember when people said Joey Logano would never cut it in the Sprint Cup Series? Logano continues to silence his critics as he picked up his fifth win of the season. Justin Tucker, Frontstretch.com
First Place Votes: 6
The gauntlet effect of NASCAR’s new elimination Chase has slowed Jeff Gordon, a leader all season. But this could still be Gordon’s year. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
First Place Votes: 1
In a refreshing twist of fate this week the pit crew gets to criticize the driver for making a mistake. Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com
I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Kyle Busch. He won the Nationwide race and finished third on Sunday. A performance like that, at one of his worst tracks, could be the surge of confidence he needs to make a championship run. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com
Exhibit A on how a blown tire can take you from Championship favorite to battling for survival. Out of the the three “biggies” in trouble, however, Keselowski has the best chance to win one of the next two races. Jim Noble, ESPN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/PRN
First Place Votes: 1
With zero wins in 2014, fans might have counted Ryan Newman out of the Chase early. Not so. Newman may keep rolling. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Not that he’s been great lately, but he took care of his car and more importantly his tires to finish fifth on Sunday. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com
If Kyle Larson had made the Chase, he would be a top contender. The future is fast and another Kyle is a part of it. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Denny Hamlin should be higher than this spot but I’m afraid the uncertain future of Darian Grubb might hinder this team once the going gets rough. Jim Noble, ESPN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/PRN
I know there are still six races left, but with the way this team is running, we might see the winner of the most races in 2013 not win a race at all in 2014. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com
There is a strand of my DNA that prevents me from counting the No. 48 team out at this point. However, I would not put much stock in being able to win Talladega. Therefore, Charlotte could be a one-race season for the six-time champ. Jim Noble, ESPN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/PRN
Junior turns 40 on Friday. Remember, the list of Sprint Cup champions age 40 and older is a short one. It may really be now or never for Junior. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com
Was making the most of his Chase competitors’ misfortunes by running in the top 5 until an ill-timed pit stop, followed by over-driving, put him in the danger zone when it comes to points position. Anything but a win at Charlotte could be the end of his Championship hopes considering his record at Talladega. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com
Scoring a top 15 at an intermediate track for a team like JTG Daugherty Racing is no easy feat. They just wish that the 11th-place finish came at Dover instead. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
Must be driving a stealth-colored car because, despite back-to-back top-5 finishes, he has yet to be mentioned on the race broadcast. Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com
Others Receiving Votes: Austin Dillon (33), Jamie McMurray (32), Greg Biffle (20), Clint Bowyer (19), Brian Vickers (16), Danica Patrick (14), Paul Menard (13), Tony Stewart (9), Kurt Busch (7), Aric Almirola (3)