The Championship 4 entered Homestead-Miami Speedway filled with talent and hope, but in the end, only one driver could hoist the Sprint Cup Series trophy.
That someone, for the seventh time in the last 11 seasons, was Jimmie Johnson.
Johnson got the best of Kyle Larson and Joey Logano on the final restart of Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 to claim NASCAR’s biggest prize and tie legends Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for the all-time championship mark.
With a historic championship, Johnson can expectedly be found atop the rankings. However, after the Hendrick Motorsports driver, the 10 gets a little bit trickier.
The three losers of the Championship 4 were difficult enough to rank. Carl Edwards dominated the night before a crash ended his reign, Logano came a couple passes away from a trophy and Kyle Busch was a presence at the front all evening.
Here’s the thing, though. The 10 doesn’t slim down with the Chase. There were still six more spots to fill.
Who filled them? Let’s find out.
For the final time in 2016, here’s The 10.
POWER RANKINGS: Ford EcoBoost 400 Edition
1. JIMMIE JOHNSON (120 POINTS, +2)
“The champ is (back) here.” – Jim Utter, Motorsport
“Was it the history he made? The fact he won the final race? That he started last? That he drove thru the race-deciding wreck to be in position to win? Just one of these makes Johnson #1 on this list and he did all of them.” – Doug Turnbull, PRN
2. JOEY LOGANO (105 POINTS, -1)
“HE WAS SHELL-SHOCKED WHEN THE DAY WAS OVER. SHELL IS HIS SPONSOR. GET IT? OH, NEVERMIND.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan
“In the end, it wasn’t his year. But as long as he sticks with The Captain, the sky’s the limit.” – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch
3. KYLE BUSCH (98 POINTS, -1)
“No repeat championship but his finish at Homestead did give Toyota its first manufacturer’s title in the Cup series.” – Utter
“I’m not sure what they were thinking coming to pit road for four tires with just three laps left in the race. It might have worked if they pitted with 10 to go, but that decision cost him any realistic shot of winning the race.” – Pete McCole, AutoRacing1
4. CARL EDWARDS (78 POINTS, No Change)
“MOVE OVER, ROCK, ‘CAUSE WE HAVE A NEW PEOPLES CHAMPION.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan
“The next time your child throws a temper tantrum after a difficult game, go to YouTube and show them what one of NASCAR’s best did on the grandest stage.” – Bearden
5. MATT KENSETH (63 POINTS, No Change)
“A decent Chase for him overall, but he’s probably glad 2016 is over after a season full of Murphy’s Law moments.” – Gable
“Has found himself on the bad end of a few of the Chase’s biggest moments through the first three years. Still, after the poor start to the season, this team has to feel confident about its chances going into 2017.” – Bearden
6. KEVIN HARVICK (56 POINTS, +1)
“If it wasn’t for that bad finish at Martinsville in week 33, Harvick might still have been in the Chase and would have been the driver to beat on Sunday.” – McCole
“In 108 starts with Stewart-Haas Racing, he has 54 top 5s, an even 50 percent of all his finishes the last three years. That’s unreal” – Gable
7. KYLE LARSON (37 POINTS, Prev. Unranked)
“Dominant in all three Homestead races this weekend with zero wins to show for it. Once he starts closing the deal, look out. ” – Turnbull
“Kyle Larson dominated Sunday’s race. He would have won it if Dylan Lupton didn’t get loose in turn 2.” – Allaway
“2016 saw the first win. 2017 might see many more.” – Bearden
8. DENNY HAMLIN (34 POINTS, -2)
“MUCH LIKE HIS SPONSOR, DENNY HAD PROBLEMS DELIVERING DURING THE CHASE.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan
“Lucky for Denny he looks good in purple and orange since FedEx its their colors to all match.” – Neff
9. BRAD KESELOWSKI (24 POINTS, +1)
“Once again caught up in someone else’s mess. In three of the final six races in The Chase, Keselowski finished 35th or worse and only scored a single top 10.” – McCole
“Fell by the wayside in a big way after his elimination at Talladega. After a third-straight season overshadowed by his teammate, the question has to be asked. Can the streaky No. 2 team ever pull together the kind of consistent run needed to thrive in the modern Chase, or will the 2012 title be its last?” – Bearden
10. MARTIN TRUEX, JR. (17 POINTS, Prev. Unranked)
“The man has no luck, and that continued on Sunday night.” – Allaway
“The end of the season epitomized the luck of Truex all season long.” – Neff
CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR
The two drivers that fell just short of cracking the final power rankings couldn’t have found themselves on much different paths. One is a rookie finishing the first of many promising years, the other is a veteran saying his final goodbyes to the cockpit. Regardless, both have much to be proud of after making the Chase in 2016.
Chase Elliott (15 points) – “Be patient, everyone. Jeff Gordon didn’t win a points-paying race in his rookie season either.” – Gable
Tony Stewart (13 Points) – “Thanks for 18 great years, Smoke. See you at a dirt track.” – 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.