Unless you’re a fan of Jimmie Johnson or Carl Edwards, your driver is likely one of many teetering on the bubble in both the Chase grid and our power rankings.
Blame it on the rain.
Edwards made the most of a dreary day in No Limits, Texas, to score a clutch victory and elevate himself from the bottom of the Chase grid straight into the Championship 4.
The win proved huge for Edwards, but it also served as a significant shakeup in the Chase and a challenge to our voters. Edwards will compete for a title at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the first time since 2011, but is that enough to deserve a significant leap in our power rankings?
And what about the rest of the Chase field? Save for Kurt Busch, each driver makes a strong case for their odds to stay in the Chase and at the top of The 10. Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth are all within just two points of each other on the bubble, and while Kevin Harvick’s 18 points back, he’s heading back to a track in Phoenix International Raceway that’s seen him win five of the last six races.
Throw in the addition of two non-Chasers to shake things up, and selecting the 10 proved to be an unenviable task leaving the Lone Star State. Still, our committee was up for it.
Let’s see what they decided.
POWER RANKINGS: AAA Texas 500 Edition
1. JIMMIE JOHNSON (91 POINTS, No Change)
“Quiet in Texas, but it doesn’t matter. We all know the real story here doesn’t come until Homestead.” – Bearden
“Six-time has a great shot to be Seven-time.” – Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
2. KYLE BUSCH (81 POINTS, No Change)
“Just two points currently separate the top four drivers for the last two spots in the final four. Busch will just need to keep his cool and keep all the fenders on the car at Phoenix and he’s in.” – Pete McCole, AutoRacing1
“Salvaged a great finish after dealing with carbon fiber through his nose and handling woes.” – Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
3. CARL EDWARDS (75 POINTS, +6)
“Winning Texas on same tire compound as Homestead makes him dangerous to avenge his 2011 loss.” – Doug Turnbull, PRN
“Edwards had a rough start with JGR, but there are zero excuses now going into Homestead.” – Joseph Wolkin, Frontstretch
4. JOEY LOGANO (60 POINTS, -1)
“He missed an opportunity to win, but another top 5 puts him above the cutoff.” – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch
5. MATT KENSETH (48 POINTS, No Change)
“A status quo night for Kenseth at Texas on Sunday night puts him in a position to join Edwards in the final four at Homestead. All he needs to do is get through Phoenix without any mistakes.” – McCole
“Steady throughout the Chase, but will that be enough to get to Homestead?” – Spencer
6. DENNY HAMLIN (44 POINTS, -2)
“Somewhere between “eh” and “whatever at Texas. Wonder how much lead his teammates snuck in his car to slow him down.” – Turnbull
“One good race away from being the first driver to make it from Victory Lane in the Daytona 500 to the Championship 4.” – Bearden
7. KEVIN HARVICK (43 POINTS, -1)
“Think he can do it one more time?” – Gable
“With Ford in his future, is he still getting Hendrick’s best stuff?” – Spencer
8. MARTIN TRUEX, JR. (35 POINTS, +2)
“Chase or not, he is still leading laps and competing for wins.” – Wolkin
“How is he not in the Chase still? I forget.” – Turnbull
9. BRAD KESELOWSKI (30 POINTS, -1)
“Another strong contender TKO’d by a blown engine.” – Spencer
“Keselowski and his team never seemed to find the handle on the car all night, and it would have been heartbreaking to watch if he wasn’t already out of the Chase. At the rate he’s going, he might not even finish the season in the top 10 in points.” – McCole
10. KURT BUSCH (20 POINTS, -3)
“Two badly missed setups at Martinsville and Texas make Phoenix a must-win for the Outlaw.” – Spencer
“He clearly does not have the speed he did prior to the summer and it’s amazing he is still calm.” – Wolkin
CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR
These two rookies have both exceeded expectation throughout the season. Now, as the season winds down, they find themselves within reach of the season-ending rankings. Impressive.
Chase Elliott (13 Points) – “Outran six Chase drivers with the flu at Texas.” – Turnbull
Ryan Blaney (7 Points) – “Ran strong. Brought big Indy 500 trophy name Borg-Warner on-board as a sponsor. Met Chuck Norris. Not a bad weekend in Texas.” – Bearden
Others receiving votes: Austin Dillon (3)
|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.
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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