Race Weekend Central

The 10: Talladega Twister Shuffles Sprint Cup Rankings

 You’ll have to forgive our writers in advance for focusing more on past history rather than the final result of Sunday’s attrition-filled GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway for this week’s Power Rankings.

Who can blame them? With 35 of the 40 cars involved in some sort of incident, Talladega was less skill-based pack driving and more Russian Roulette-style survival. The threat of incoming rain forced the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field to run all-out for the full 500 miles, and most fell victim to the urgency and ramped up intensity as a result.

Still, a few drivers moved up the rankings courtesy of their ability to survive and salvage good finishes. One in particular even managed to steal the top spot. Not bad for someone who wanted to stay home and watch the race from his couch.

Without further adieu, here are 10 drivers that came out of Alabama intact – at least for the most part.


1. KYLE BUSCH (167 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“Consistently finishes well. Four top two finishes in the last five races.” – Dustin Albino, Frontstretch

“Avoided all the disasters and walked out of Talladega with a second-place finish.  That’s all he could have asked for prior to the race.”  – Phil Allaway, Frontstretch

“Considering his history at Kansas, maybe he’d prefer to stay home this weekend, too.” – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“I know, I know, four drivers have two wins and Harvick only has one. But those wins will come as Harvick is always running towards the front. The Lucky Dog? Harvick doesn’t need it, as he’s run 99.66% of the 2016 season’s 3,237 laps on the lead lap – first among the Cup Series drivers.” – Brian Eberly, Rubbing’s Racing


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“An early exit after a crash on lap 109 meant he got to watch both “Big Ones” from the comfort of his motorhome. Probably the best strategy of any driver all day.” – Pete McCole, AutoRacing1.com

“Bad finish. Talladega.” – Albino


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Was anyone else as surprised as I was when Brad reminded us that Sunday marked his fourth career victory at Talladega? It’s the most victories he has at any one track.” – Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch
“Who would have thought that his hugely unlikely win in 2009 would turn into three more wins in just seven more years? Keselowski might be a better restrictor plate driver than what we give him credit for.” –  Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

 “Been a rough couple of outings at Talladega for Johnson as of late. Since winning this same event in 2011 he’s only tallied two more top fives in the last 10 races. Bet he’s happy to be leaving ‘Dega too.” – McCole

 “I was going to write something about how JJ’s momentum has stalled, but then I remembered that he already has two wins and has both Kansas and Dover in the next month. I think six-time’s going to be just fine.” – Bearden

6.   KURT BUSCH (84 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“Jimmie Johnson blamed him for a multi-car wreck on lap 161. However, Busch was able to move on and finish eighth. Have you noticed Busch has eight top 10s in 10 races this season? You probably didn’t, but Busch is quietly putting together a very impressive season.” – Bedgood


7.   JOEY LOGANO (74 POINTS, -4)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Heading to Kansas and the No. 22 car has won two of the last three, and triggering the Kenseth drama last fall.” – Albino
“Let me get this straight, Logano and Kenseth made it through three short-track races without much controversy, and then rekindled their feud at Talladega?” – Bearden


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Impressive run from the young rookie with a veteran move in the final laps that surprised both former champions calling the race in the booth. Had there been a few more laps I’m betting Elliott could have made a move on Keselowski.” – McCole
“Another top-five for the rookie who isn’t performing like one.” – Eberly

9.   AUSTIN DILLON (39 POINTS, Prev. Unranked))

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“How Dillon managed to come home with a third-place finish with something that looked like it was out of a 90s Enterprise Rent-A-Car commercial I will never know.” – Kyle Pokrefky, The Fourth Turn
“I walked out on the grid to snag some quotes after the race on Sunday, walked by Dillon’s car, and did a double-take to make sure I wasn’t at Martinsville. Then I remembered that Martinsville could probably fit on the trip-oval at Talladega.” – Bearden


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)


“If you would have told me a few months ago that, ten races into the season, his only finishes lower than 14th would be at the restrictor plate tracks, I would have called you crazy.” – Gable

“Alright, someone refresh my memory. When was the last time Dale Jr. went down on a site’s power rankings after a restrictor-plate race? This year’s Daytona 500 was the first race of the year, so that doesn’t count.” – Bearden


These two drivers didn’t do bad at Talladega, they just both could’ve used a win in a major way. Oh well, on to the next one, guys.

Martin Truex, Jr. (19 Points, Finished 18th) – Who said you can’t take a Martinsville car to Talladega and still run well?” – Lumbis

Jamie McMurray (15 Points, Finished 6th) – “Sixth isn’t bad, but Jamie Mac could’ve really used some early-2010s restrictor plater magic for a Chase berth.” – Bearden

Others receiving votes: Denny Hamlin (15), Trevor Bayne (6), Ryan Blaney (3), Incoming Rain (1)

Dustin Albino@DustinAlbino
Phil Allaway@Critic84
Aaron Bearden@AaronBearden93
Summer Bedgood@SummerBedgood
Tom Bowles@NASCARBowles
Greg Davis@GregMDavis
Sean Fesko@TheWriterSean
Michael Finley@FinleyFactor
Bryan GableN/A
Tony Lumbis@TonyLumbis
Toni Montgomery@ToniLMontgomery
Kevin Rutherford@surfwax83
Jason Schultz@NASCARJason
Joseph Wolkin@JosephNASCAR
AnnoyingRaceFan @AnnoyingRaceFan I’M @annoyingracefan ON TWITTER (AND INSTAGRAM). PEOPLE CALL ME ARF. I’M A RELATIVE NOBODY.
Brian Eberly@beberly18Writer, Rubbings Racing, Motor Racing Digest
Mike Hembree@MikeHembreeWriter, USA Today
Ben Hinc@lemonlovrOwner, The Apex
Jerry Jordan@kicknthetiresOwner, Kicknthetires.Net
Pete McCole@PeteMcColeNASCAR Writer, AutoRacing1.com
The Orange Cone@TheOrangeConeI am an orange traffic cone.
Kyle Pokrefky@KPokrefkyWriter, The Fourth Turn
Reid Spencer@Reid_SpencerLead Writer, NASCAR Wire Service
Doug Turnbull@DougTurnbullAnnouncer, PRN Live, Atlanta Motor Speedway
Jim Utter@jim_utterNASCAR Editor, Motorsport.com

How they’re made: Following the conclusion of each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, members of a voting panel including Frontstretch writers, other members of accredited media including Motorsport, NASCAR and USA Today, as well as writers from other sites and social media favorites, submit their top 10 drivers for the Power Rankings. The drivers are then given points based off their position, with first place getting 10 points, and each subsequent driver getting one fewer point until the 10th-place driver, who gets a lone point. Points are then tallied, and the rankings are created, with a few fun or interesting comments thrown in along the way.

Do you agree with our rankings? Think someone got snubbed, or that one of the top drivers is overrated? Let us know in the comments, and tell us who raced their way into your top 10.

About the author

A graduate of Ball State, Aaron rejoins Frontstretch for his second season in 2016 following a successful year that included covering seven races and starting the popular "Two-Headed Monster" column in 2015. Now in his third year of covering motorsports, Aaron serves as an Assistant Editor for Frontstretch while also contributing to other popular sites including Speed51 and The Apex. He encourages you to come say hi when you see him at the track.

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Aaron misquoting reality again “they rekindled THEIR feud”. Only in Matty’s mind and the lazy media. Race fans and peeps with common sense, reject that lame statement.

Capt Spaulding

And tell me again why “points” are important.

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