Race Weekend Central

The 10: Low Downforce, No Problem in Michigan

Less downforce or not, a lot of the same faces shined bright at Michigan International Speedway.

Amid the hype of the rules package changes, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott dominated much of Sunday’s Firekeepers Casino 400 in the Irish Hills of Michigan. Behind them, familiar mainstays from recent weeks filled the top 10, including Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Kyle Larson.

Still, there we surprises to be had. Tony Stewart looked every bit the Smoke of old in a consistent seventh-place performance. Kyle Busch continued an uncharacteristic streak with his fourth-straight finish outside of the top 30, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. again crashed at a track where he was expected to excel.

Were the few surprises enough to switch up the rankings, or did the consistent showings from some of the sport’s best keep them similar?

Let’s find out what our contributors decided.

POWER RANKINGS:  Firekeepers Casino 400 Edition

1. KEVIN HARVICK (116 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“THE OUTHOUSE STEAKHOUSE CHEVROLET CAME HOME IN FIFTH. OUTBACK. MY BAD.” –  @AnnoyingRaceFan
“Has the competition finally caught up to the No. 4 car? He’s still extremely fast, but seems to be a step behind the past two years. With that said, he’s leading the points, so who am I kidding?” – Dustin Albino, Frontstretch

2. BRAD KESELOWSKI (103 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Keselowski is probably the best driver in Sprint Cup on fuel mileage right now.  It nearly came back to bite him Sunday.” – Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
“Another top 5 continued a bit of a resurgent 2016 for the 2012 champ, and having teammate Joey Logano guaranteed in the Chase can only help – that is, until they’re fighting for transfer positions in the Fall.” – Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch

3.  KURT BUSCH (98 POINTS, -2)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Once again a solid race. Nothing flashy, but with last week’s win, that’s a-ok.” – Sean Fesko, Frontstretch

“He correctly predicted that it would be a long day.  Still a top 10 finish, though.” – Gable

4.   CHASE ELLIOTT (89 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“The old siren in Dawsonville is going to be ringing very soon if this rookie can keep up his unprecedented run. At this point, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to picture Chase as a legitimate championship threat this fall.” – Bearden

“THEY WERE GETTING HI-C AND CAPRI SUNS READY FOR VICTORY LANE IF CHASE WON, BUT INSTEAD HE FINISHED SECOND.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

5.  JOEY LOGANO (83 POINTS, +5)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“He won the big money at Charlotte, now he has a berth in the Chase to go with it.” – Jim Utter, Motorsport

“The only Sliced Bread that gets better with age finally got the Chase-clinching win knocked off of his list for the season. Logano won the most recent road-course race at Watkins Glen. Can he equal the feat out in wine country?” –  Bearden

6.   CARL EDWARDS (76 POINTS, -2)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

 “Got a victory at Sonoma nearly two years ago, and Roush Fenway Racing has not had a points-paying win in the Cup Series since then.” – Gable

“HIS CAR WAS GREEN IN HONOR OF THE IRISH HILLS. OH, NEVERMIND, IT WAS SPONSORED BY SUBWAY.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

7.   MARTIN TRUEX, JR. (41 POINTS, No Change)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Honestly thought he’d be better this week. No major blowup, just meh.” – Fesko
“Dude is fast, but has no luck whatsoever.” –  Allaway

8.   JIMMIE JOHNSON (36 POINTS, Prev. Unranked))

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Is it me, or is the No. 48 team struggling lately? The team can’t catch a break.” – Albino
“When Johnson first came in, he was the fast young prospect outrunning Jeff Gordon’s No 24. Now JJ’s a six-time champion, and it’s the 24 – with Chase Elliott – outrunning him. Johnson’s two early wins give him an edge and some breathing room for now.” – Bearden

9.   KYLE BUSCH (31 POINTS, -3)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“AFTER MICHIGAN, CRISPY M&Ms WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.” –  @AnnoyingRaceFan

“The M&Ms car gave new meaning to the words “hot chocolate” on Sunday.” – Gable

10. KYLE LARSON (26 POINTS, Prev. Unranked)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“The points gap between him and the Chase cutoff is shrinking.  He might have turned his season around just in time.” – Gable
“Failed post-race inspection again. Not a good sign but third place nonetheless.” – Fesko

CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR

Two of NASCAR’s most popular drivers find themselves just outside of the top 10 following a trip to the Irish Hills after vastly different days. If either of them can put together a strong run at Sonoma, they just might find themselves back in the rankings.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (20 Points) –  “HIX AXALTA PAINT SCHEME PAINTED THE WALL IN TURN TWO.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

Tony Stewart (16 Points) – “He had his best weekend from start to finish since his return.” – Utter

Others receiving votes: Austin Dillon (8), The Michigan Groundhog (3), Denny Hamlin (2), Miesha Tate (1)

NameTwitter
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
NameTwitterPosition/Description
AnnoyingRaceFan @AnnoyingRaceFan I’M @annoyingracefan ON TWITTER (AND INSTAGRAM). PEOPLE CALL ME ARF. I’M A RELATIVE NOBODY.
MatthewDillner@MatthewDillnerNASCAR
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, 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.

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 others what your top 10 would be. 

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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