Man, Talladega is a doozy, huh? Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s first victory of the season – and first at Talladega in 11 years – was great for the sport and meant, for a moment, that all was right in the racing world. However, the monster that is ‘Dega was also very unkind to several other drivers who would otherwise have easily finished in the top 10.
But nothing is ever easy, right?
As a result of the shake-up, this week’s rankings will look a little different than last week’s. And while this still-new Chase format means the shuffling and wreck(s?) weren’t as devastating as they could have been, it still provided for some interesting perspectives from our Power Rankings contributors. Here we go!
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! (Psst … Mike Mehedin is on vacation this week, so Summer Bedgood is going to be doing the calculating this time around. Mike will be back next week for the Kansas rankings!)
I think if you gave Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers a Big Wheel and a week to work on it, they could place it in the top 10 in a Cup race. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway
First Place Votes: 6
Is this the first time we can use the hashtag #BlameJJ without the No. 48 in Victory Lane? Johnson running behind teammate Earnhardt kept anyone outside of Denny Hamlin from thinking they could take a shot at the win. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch
First place votes: 1
The weight Junior carried on his shoulders for over a decade could never truly be understood by NASCAR Nation until last Sunday afternoon … after it had been lifted. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch
Truex has reached second place in the standings. Incredible, knowing how the team had to charge late in the season to finish in the top 25 last year. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
A solid championship contender, and he is still younger than Austin Dillon. Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com
His 22nd-place finish paired with teammate Logano’s 33rd made for a tough weekend for the Penske Racing camp. However, the concern is minimal at best, considering they both have a win to cash in come Chase time. Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch
Busch was one of two drivers (paging Ryan Blaney) that looked like he had anything for the Hendrick drivers on Sunday. It’s a shame he got stuck on the losing end of the track position battle when the field started parading around at the end. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch
McMurray has taken Chip Ganassi Racing to the top 10 in points. Another Indy or Daytona win could be in his cards. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Gordon’s run of top-10 finishes ended at six as a result of his 31st place finish at Talladega, but it was not as poor an outing as it appears. He won the pole and led six times for 47 laps, but a pit-road speeding penalty proved very costly. He’s due. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway
Is it fair to say he’s best in the non-American class when so many Toyotas are made in Kentucky? Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com
Hey, at least he tried. That’s more than many other drivers can say. Too little, too late. Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch
Menard continues to have good results and stay within the Chase field without fireworks. He may not need a fuse to end up as one of the Chase contenders without a win. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Newman did what he’s done best this year: fighting off controversy – this time in the form of a pit-road fire – to score a top-10 finish. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch
Got caught up in an early-race crash and never recovered. Based on his early performance and the finishing positions of his teammates, he was poised for a great run. Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch
Almirola continues to hang with the big boys. Another big win at a place like Daytona would make the King smile and smile. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Others Receiving Votes: Danica Patrick (24), Carl Edwards (20), Sam Hornish Jr. (19), Ryan Blaney (19), Clint Bowyer (13), AJ Allmendinger (8), Tony Stewart (6), Kyle Larson (5), Austin Dillon (5), Josh Wise (3), Justin Allgaier (2), David Ragan (1), Kyle Busch (1)
Participants: Phil Allaway, Frontstretch; Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch; Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch; Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com; Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch; Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com; Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway