It was bound to happen, right?
With two straight finishes outside of the top 30, Kevin Harvick entered Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 dropping in both the Chase Grid and our rankings. So, naturally, as Harvick has done for each of the past three seasons, he quickly returned to Victory Lane and quelled any doubts about his No. 4 team’s strength.
As one would expect, Harvick sees a leap up in this week’s rankings after his fourth win of 2016. But what about those behind him?
Each of the 11 Chase contenders that entered Kansas Speedway without a victory in the Round of 12 hoped for a strong run to give themselves better odds in the wild-card finale of the round at Talladega Superspeedway. Seven of the 12 did just that, scoring top-10 results to give themselves a boost in the standings.
The other five drivers weren’t so lucky. Three minimized their losses, finishing from 11th to 15th. The others – Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski – dropped majorly in the Chase standings after finishing outside of the top 30.
POWER RANKINGS: Hollywood Casino 400 Edition
1. KYLE BUSCH (75 POINTS, +2)
“If he keeps finishing consistently like he has been he could coast to the Final 4 without a win just like he did last year.” – Pete McCole, AutoRacing1
“Five top 10s to start the Chase? Who is this guy in the No. 18 car, and what has he done with Kyle Busch, who always struggled at the beginning of the postseason?” – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch
2. KEVIN HARVICK (70 POINTS, +3)
“Harvick’s NASCAR career has become one big-time moment after another.” – Jim Utter, Motorsport
“This is pretty much what you get from Harvick every time he’s put up against it. This man can produce.” – Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
3. JIMMIE JOHNSON (65 POINTS, -2)
“It’s taken them a couple years, but the No. 48 team appears to be figuring this new Chase format out. It has been among the best teams in each of the first five races, and can rest easy this weekend at Talladega with a win.” – Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch
“That victory at Charlotte has seemed to have put an extra spring in Johnson’s step, scoring just his second top-5 finish of the Chase. He’ll need more finishes like that if he wants to advance to the Championship 4.” – McCole
4. CARL EDWARDS (50 POINTS, +5)
“At the moment, Edwards appears to be the best of the Toyota bunch.” – Utter
“A 24-point cushion does not guarantee his advancement, but he will have less to worry about than most of the other Chasers.” – Gable
5. MARTIN TRUEX, JR. (45 POINTS, -3)
“Even the fastest car in the field needs a full tank of gas.” – Utter
“Did a great job to finish 11th with the fuel filler giving the team fits all day. That is the kind of run that shows a strong team.” – Allaway
6. MATT KENSETH (43 POINTS, No Change)
“Ninth place seems like a disappointing finish after leading more than a quarter of the race. Kenseth never seemed to recover after brushing the wall and then contact with Alex Bowman on a restart cost him a sure top-5 finish.” – McCole
“Kenseth’s been eerily quiet through the Chase so far. Given his place in the standings and everything that happened last season, that might not be a bad thing.” – Bearden
7. BRAD KESELOWSKI (37 POINTS, -3)
“Keselowski has run very well all year. However, one false move has put him in serious jeopardy.” – Allaway
“He advanced in the Chase by winning at Talladega two years ago. Do not be surprised if he does it again.” – Gable
8. JOEY LOGANO (28 POINTS, No Change)
“Each of the last three restrictor-plate winners enter Talladega this weekend on or behind the Chase bubble. The one with the best odds to advance? Logano, who needs only to hold his current spot in a race he won last year. – Bearden
“Third place at Kansas was a nice rally for Logano, but he’s still on the brink of elimination going into Talladega and likely needs a win to be safe into the next round.” – McCole
9. AUSTIN DILLON (23 POINTS, Prev. Unranked)
“Something tells me this team may be one of the few looking forward to Sunday’s race at Talladega.” – Utter
“He’s not out of it yet, but the No. 3 team better hope it has some magic left over from Talladega earlier this year.” – Gable
10. CHASE ELLIOTT (11 POINTS, -3)
“The bottom has come out of Elliott’s Chase run. Its a great shame. The only way he advances is if he wins. Either that, or the four guys in front of him wreck early on Sunday.” – Allaway
“Unless the ‘ole sireen fires up in Dawsonville, this rookie’s Chase is likely done, and considering Elliott has yet to make his way to Victory Lane, the odds of this Georgia upset are about as high as the three-loss Bulldogs’ odds to take the SEC. – Bearden
CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR
They’ve switched places, but the two drivers that were just outside of the top 10 after Charlotte find themselves facing the same circumstances leaving Kansas. Perhaps a little Talladega luck can finally swing one of them into The 10.
Kasey Kahne (8 Points) – “Another race, another top 10, and another momentum-builder for next year.” – Gable
Kurt Busch (7 Points) – “Avoiding disaster might just be enough to carry the elder Busch brother to the Round of 8, but he’s eventually going to need to show some speed to have any chance at a championship.” – Bearden
|AnnoyingRaceFan||@AnnoyingRaceFan||I’M @annoyingracefan ON TWITTER (AND INSTAGRAM). PEOPLE CALL ME ARF. I’M A RELATIVE NOBODY.|
|Brian Eberly||@beberly18||Writer, Rubbings Racing, Motor Racing Digest|
|Mike Hembree||@MikeHembree||Writer, USA Today|
|Ben Hinc||@lemonlovr||Owner, The Apex|
|Jerry Jordan||@kicknthetires||Owner, Kicknthetires.Net|
|Pete McCole||@PeteMcCole||NASCAR Writer, AutoRacing1.com|
|The Orange Cone||@TheOrangeCone||I am an orange traffic cone.|
|Kyle Pokrefky||@KPokrefky||Writer, The Fourth Turn|
|Reid Spencer||@Reid_Spencer||Lead Writer, NASCAR Wire Service|
|Doug Turnbull||@DougTurnbull||Announcer, PRN Live, Atlanta Motor Speedway|
|Jim Utter||@jim_utter||NASCAR 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.
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