And then there were four. After waiting all afternoon and into the evening for weather to clear, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the rain-shortened race at Phoenix. It was Junior’s third win of the season, keeping a potential Chase driver from winning his way into the championship race at Homestead.
The final four drivers heading into Homestead represent four different race teams:
Jeff Gordon – Hendrick Motorsports
Kevin Harvick – Stewart-Haas Racing
Kyle Busch – Joe Gibbs Racing
Martin Truex Jr. – Furniture Row Racing
Next week’s finale at Homestead is sure to be exciting. Not only because a champion will be crowned but because the sport is saying farewell to Gordon, who is retiring from full-time racing. But before the champagne is sprayed, see where your favorite driver ranks after Phoenix.
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!
Harvick is looking to become just the second back-to-back Sprint Cup champion since Gordon in 1997-98 (see Jimmie Johnson era as the other), but he is coming off his 12th runner-up finish of the season at Phoenix and arriving at a track he has been consistently solid. He has posted seven consecutive top-10 finishes at Homestead-Miami and 12 of 14 in his career. He certainly could be “Happy” Harvick on Sunday night. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway
First Place Votes: 5
Looking to join every NASCAR trivia game from now to eternity as the champion to miss the most races. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch
Gordon could close the last chapter in his storybook career with historic impact at Homestead. Legions of NASCAR fans hope for him. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
A win is a win. I’m sure Earnhardt’s not exactly complaining about how he won Sunday night. Winning on a non-plate track is important for the team’s future, regardless. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
| Joey Logano|
Given his season and overall consistency, Logano was slated to be one of those four contenders in the Championship Round but the incident with Kenseth at Martinsville all but sunk those hopes. The series leader in wins (six) and poles (six) can play the spoiler but also culminate a career-best season with a win in the season finale. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway
Busch is likely kicking himself due to his quick trigger finger at the start. He never made up all the space. Should be happy he finished on the lead lap, knowing that the race ended up rain-shortened. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
Edwards got close to a championship again, but he can highlight his good season with a winning back flip at HMS. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Johnson is closing strong as he often does during the Chase, but the big, gold championship door has slammed in his way this year. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
2015 has been vastly different than 2014 for Kez. But it ends the same way, with championship elimination at Phoenix. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch
Oh, what could’ve been for Hamlin, had he not suffered issues at Talladega. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch
Newman’s as consistent as they come with Richard Childress Racing, but will he ever make it back to Victory Lane? Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch
It’s been a decent year for Jamie Mac. Nothing more, nothing less. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch
Ready to get back to the early season, where he excels. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch
Quietly very, very solid these days. It’s really quite interesting how the No. 43 soldiers along while Sam Hornish Jr. has struggled so much. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch