NASCAR Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Charlotte

Kevin Harvick exorcised his demons Saturday night, winning his third race of the season, but more importantly locking himself into the eight-driver Eliminator Round. Harvick won the pole and led the most laps, as usual.  This time, however, he was able to survive a late-race caution which set up a two-lap shootout to win the race.

It was a very important race for a number of Chase drivers as poor finishes at Kansas set up a “do or die” scenario at Charlotte with Talladega looming in the wings. Of the four drivers outside the top 8 after Kansas, only one (Kasey Kahne) finished in the top 10. Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished 16th, 17th and 20th respectively. What does that mean for these three? Either win at Talladega, or risk not advancing to the Eliminator Round.

A majority of the Chase conversation was overshadowed by the post-race altercations Saturday night involving Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski. Hamlin and Kenseth were both upset with Keselowski for on-track incidents. Hamlin was held back by a number of his crew members in the garage and was only able to throw a towel at Keselowski. Kenseth, however, in a rare display of emotion, chased Keselowski down and attacked him between haulers, putting him in a headlock before being separated by crew members. Kevin Harvick said it best in his post-race interview. “When you see Matt Kenseth mad enough to fight, you know that this is intense because that’s way out of character for him.”

The four drivers currently outside the top 8 in points are:
Matt Kenseth
Brad Keselowski
Jimmie Johnson
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Next up is the wildcard restrictor-plate track in Talladega, Ala. A number of drivers need a win to advance to the Eliminator Round. It’s definitely a must-see race. Expect to see the intensity grow each week as we draw closer to the finale at Homestead.

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!

 
Rank
Change
Name
Total Votes

1

Joey Logano2014 NASCAR Cup Joey  Logano headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALL

Thinking the No. 22 and the No. 4 may be drafting partners on the opposite side of the track from the competition at Talladega. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com

First Place Votes: 5

119

2

+1

Kevin Harvick2014 NASCAR Media Day - Portraits

Harvick was finally able to put a complete race together, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. He will sleep easy this week heading into Talladega. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com

112

3

-1

2014 NASCAR Cup Jeff Gordon headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALL

Jeff Gordon

Hard to believe he might be the only Hendrick Motorsports driver inside the round of eight. Can four-time hold up the banner for the company? Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com

First Place Votes: 1

106

4

Kyle Busch2014 NASCAR Media Day - Portraits

Suddenly Kyle Busch has quietly become a serious contender for the championship. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com

97

5

+1

Ryan Newman2014 NASCAR Cup Ryan Newman headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALL

What a performance by this team. I don’t believe many brackets had Ryan Newman this high in points at this stage in the game. Another point for consistency. But the question remains, how long will that last? Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com

89

6

+2

Kyle Larson2014 NASCAR Media Day - Portraits

The win is going to come very soon. Maybe not this weekend since predicting Talladega is like predicting who will get wrecked. But soon. Maybe Texas. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com

83

7

Carl Edwards2014 NASCAR Media Day - Portraits

Battling Ryan Newman for the least mentioned Chaser award. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com

80

8

+1

Denny Hamlin2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Portraits

If Denny Hamlin can ignore his desire to crash Keselowski and avoid the big one at Talladega, he may advance. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com

79

9

-4

Brad Keselowski2014 NASCAR Media Day - Portraits

Avoided a suspension, points penalties and a more severe backlash from NASCAR. But come Martinsville, you wonder if he’ll earn payback in a different way. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com

66

10

+3

Kasey Kahne2014 NASCAR Media Day - Portraits

Wasn’t the usual strong Kasey Kahne-like performance at Charlotte but still finished tenth. Now needs his best career effort at Talladega to stay alive in the Chase. Justin Tucker, Frontstretch.com

63

11

N/A

Jamie McMurray2014 NASCAR Cup Jamie McMurray headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALL

Nearly step-for-step with teammate Larson as this team builds its portfolio for 2015. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com

61

12

-2

Matt Kenseth2014 NASCAR Cup Matt Kenseth headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALL

Matt Kenseth didn’t appear to be anywhere near as skilled with his fists as he is with a steering wheel. He needs to focus his hands and eyes on a good Talladega finish. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com

60

13

-2

2014 NASCAR Media Day - Portraits

Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson and team are accustomed to overcoming setbacks with stellar performances. He needs a rocket finish at Talladega. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com

48

14

AJ Allmendinger2014 NASCAR Media Day - Portraits

Quietly performing with consistency the second he was bounced out of the Chase. Would be in position to make it to the round of eight if only for a better run at Dover. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com

44

15

Martin Truex, Jr.2014 NASCAR Media Day - Portraits

Disappointed with a top-15 finish at Charlotte. Five months ago, they’d be thrilled. A sign of how far this team has come. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com

40

Others Receiving Votes: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (35), Austin Dillon (27), Kurt Busch (22), Greg Biffle (16), Tony Stewart (4), Clint Bowyer (3), Justin Allgaier (2)

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