Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 proved to be one of the Chase’s biggest wild cards, much like fans and critics expected. However, the way it became a wild card was much different than anticipated.
The Big One? Nope. Chasers crashing out? Not a one. Instead, it was two blown motors and a spirited battle among competitors that told the tale of Sunday’s race.
In the end, Martin Truex, Jr., and Brad Keselowski – two Chase favorites – found themselves eliminated from the championship battle after untimely motor woes, joining Chase newcomers Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott, who failed to advance despite strong efforts in Alabama.
Eight drivers remain in the Chase – six-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick (the current Chase’s pied piper), a resurgent Joey Logano, a consistent Kurt Busch and the entirety of Joe Gibbs Racing, most of which advanced after a casual Sunday drive, and one in Denny Hamlin whom survived by just .006 seconds.
Naturally, the top 8 all find themselves in the 10. But what of the other two spots? Did Chase heartbreak also knock Keselowski and Truex out of our top 10? Could Brian Scott’s strong run transition into his first power rankings appearance?
POWER RANKINGS: Hellmann’s 500 Edition
1. KEVIN HARVICK (107 POINTS, +1)
“Ran well on Sunday, most definitely fired up. We’ll see what that means this weekend in Martinsville.” – Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
“HE BEAT KURT BUSCH ON SUNDAY. WITH A FIST.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan
2. JOEY LOGANO (98 POINTS, +6)
“He’s the last hope for Penske and Ford, so expect an all-out effort from the No. 22 team.” – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch
“Hit the road jack, and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more….” – Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch
3. JIMMIE JOHNSON (83 POINTS, No Change)
“On Nov. 20, will six-time be in seventh heaven?” – Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
“Johnson has been enjoying some of his best finishes of the season in this round of the Chase and might be the odds-on pick to be the first of the eight drivers to advance in the next round.” – Pete McCole, AutoRacing1
4. KYLE BUSCH (77 POINTS, -3)
“Given Joe Gibbs Racing’s strategy on Sunday, I have no clue how strong Busch really was. He never showed his hand. However, the fact that the three Gibbs Toyotas could lag back as far as six seconds from the leader and still catch back up is worth something.” –Allaway
“Quiet, consistent and moving through the Chase with ease. This year feels eerily similar to 2015 for Rowdy and the No. 18 bunch.” – Bearden
5. DENNY HAMLIN (60 POINTS, Prev. Unranked)
“At least one of the JGR cars cared about running well at Talladega.” – Joseph Wolkin, Frontstretch
“HE ALSO BEAT KURT BUSCH ON SUNDAY, BY .006 SECONDS AND ADVANCED TO THE NEXT ROUND OF THE CHASE. THAT’S FASTER THAN JAMES BOND. THAT WAS A STRETCH, I KNOW.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan
6. KURT BUSCH (55 POINTS, Prev. Unranked)
“Gave his teammate a little love tap on the cool down lap and got one in return in the cockpit. Otherwise it’s been a consistent march for the elder Busch brother.” – Bearden
“(SEE KEVIN HARVICK)” – @AnnoyingRaceFan
“Hopes to mirror the success of his beloved Cubbies.” – Spencer
7. MATT KENSETH (52 POINTS, -1)
“THE MOST CARED ABOUT 28TH FINISHING SPOT IN THE HISTORY OF NASCAR.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan
“Kenseth’s conservative 28th-place result was his first finish outside the top 10 in the first six Chase races. This team has been in the hunt in every race and if they keep chalking up decent finishes they could easily skate into the Final 4 without a win – IF they stay out of trouble.” – McCole
8. CARL EDWARDS (46 POINTS, -4)
“I don’t blame him for being nervous about possibly losing the draft. He dipped a few points below the cutoff several times while running at the back.” – Gable
“THE MOST CARED ABOUT 29TH FINISHING SPOT IN THE HISTORY OF NASCAR.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan
9. BRAD KESELOWSKI (26 POINTS, -2)
“A blown engine doesn’t take away from the impressive speed he showed on Sunday.” – Wolkin
“Hot dog: $3.50; Beer: $5; Chips: $2.00; A blown motor because people don’t throw their trash away afterward: Priceless… Well, actually, very expensive. Thus ends the Chase campaign of the 2012 champ.” – Bearden
10. MARTIN TRUEX, JR. (20 POINTS, -5)
“A rare TRD engine failure knocked one of the favorites out of the Chase.” – Spencer
“A rare blown engine ruined what has become Truex’s best season in Sprint Cup. Who would have thought he would take to year No. 10 to show his full potential?” – Allaway
CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR
One driver’s here because of heartbreak, while the other garnered some praise after a Talladega surprise amid a brutal season. Still, both will need a good run at Martinsville Speedway to climb any further.
Austin Dillon (15 Points) – “Who would have thought back in February that he would have made it as far as he did? The No. 3 team can be proud of its season.” – Gable
Brian Scott (12 Points) – “Drove the race of his life on Sunday, and brought Richard Petty Motorsports their best finish in over two years as a result. A bright moment amid a dark season.” – 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.