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(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

The 12: NASCAR Power Rankings Bluegreen Vacations 500 Edition

It was do-or-die for Denny Hamlin at ISM Raceway last Sunday (Nov. 10), but the 38-year-old survived to claim a coveted spot in the Championship 4. Nearly a decade after his promising 2010 championship run and subsequent postseason collapse, can Hamlin finally find the keys to the championship trophy? Can Martin Truex Jr claim his second championship in three years? Despite missing the Championship Four, can defending champion Joey Logano finish the season on a high note? After having monumental postseason collapses, can Chase Elliott and Erik Jones put their disappointments behind them in preparation for the 2020 season?

While all these questions are yet to be answered, our Frontstretch experts were challenged with picking their top 12 drivers currently in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

How the rankings are calculated: Following the conclusion of each Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, members of a voting panel, including Frontstretch writers and members of accredited media outlets as well as writers from other sites and social media personalities, submit their top 12 drivers for the Power Rankings.

The drivers are then given points based on their position, with first place getting 12 points, and each subsequent driver getting one fewer point until the 12th-place driver, who gets a single point. Points are then added together, and the rankings are subsequently produced.

Power Rankings: Bluegreen Vacations 500 Edition

1. Denny Hamlin – 128 Points

First place votes: 9

Last week’s ranking: 5th (+4)

Domination was the name of the game for Hamlin as he stormed around the one-mile asphalt ISM Raceway under the desert sun. While he definitely threw the hammer down on the competition, Hamlin will likely have to back it up with another stellar and mistake-free run at Homestead-Miami Speedway to claim a long-awaited championship.

2. Martin Truex Jr. – 114 Points

First place votes: 2

Last week’s ranking: 2nd (No Change)

Is anyone getting any 2017 vibes? While the primary focus may be on Hamlin, Truex enters the championship round with seven wins, the most of any drivers this season. Judging by the history of the modern championship format, Truex will likely need to win at Homestead and make it eight victories, which ironically would be equivalent to his 2017 championship run.

3. Kyle Busch 107 Points

Last week’s ranking: 3rd (No Change)

Despite “slumping” in the latter half of the season, the Candyman rounds out the Joe Gibbs Racing contingent in the Championship 4. While Busch pursues his second championship, JGR is on the hunt for its fifth MENCS ring. With a three-in-four shot of another championship crown, JGR’s odds are increasingly in its favor.

4. Kevin Harvick 104 Points

Last week’s ranking: 1st (-3)

While it may be a tall task going up against three hungry JGR drivers, Harvick has already been beaten by a Gibbs driver once this week … that is … in a bet. While Kyle Busch may have beaten Harvick, along with his two teammates Truex and Hamlin, Happy is likely not phased. Time will tell how “The Closer” does this weekend.

5. Joey Logano – 83 Points

Last week’s ranking: 4th (-1)

Despite leading 93 laps at ISM, Logano suffered an agonizingly brutal drop-off in speed during the final stage in the Arizona desert. The final playoff spot was ultimately plucked from Logano’s hands and given to Hamlin. Thus, for the ninth consecutive year, there will not be a back-to-back champion, or in Jimmie Johnson‘s case, a back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back champion.

6. Ryan Blaney 80 Points

Last week’s ranking: 6th (No Change)

Although Blaney may have come alive during the postseason, a lack of regular season playoff points may have been the culprit to his elimination. Despite being on the cusp of glory, Blaney can still hold his head high. With his best year statistically, the 25-year-old delivered another impressive run last weekend with a third-place finish. Although he may only have three MENCS wins to his name, should we be surprised if Blaney finds victory lane more often next season?

7. Kyle Larson 70 Points

Chevrolet’s hopes for yet another NASCAR championship came to a screeching halt at ISM. Despite not transferring into the final round, Larson will likely finish as the top Chevrolet driver in points this season (unless the sky comes crashing down and William Byron wins Homestead and beats Larson by over thirty positions). With both Larson and teammate Kurt Busch returning, Chip Ganassi Racing may have to be reckoned with again next year.

Last week’s ranking: 7th (No Change)

8. Erik Jones – 36 Points

Last week’s ranking: Not Ranked

Jones brought the green Interstate Batteries Toyota home in lucky position seven. While the number seven and the color green may be symbols of luck, Jones could have certainly used some luck in the Round of 16. Instead, Jones will have to sit back and watch his three teammates duel Harvick for the top step of NASCAR’s most important podium.

9. Clint Bowyer 33 Points

Last week’s ranking: 10th (+1)

On this week’s edition of Clint Bowyer’s social media chronicles: people inspired by Clint’s shopping lists, Anthony Sherman of the Kansas City Chiefs takes a business trip and the mayor hops in a racecar (and it’s not Jeff Burton).

10. Brad Keselowski 31 Points

Last week’s ranking: Not Ranked

Keselowski may be limping into the season finale after a disappointing slump to end the season. Despite narrowly breaking the top 10 at ISM, Keselowski had to play second fiddle to teammates Blaney and Logano, who were still vying for the championship until elimination claimed them too. While another Team Penske championship will have to wait, can Keselowski clean up his recent struggles of late at Homestead?

11. Chase Elliott – 26 Points

Last week’s ranking: 9th (-2)

You know Elliott’s Round of 8 was bad when his best finish during the three-race stretch was 32nd at Texas Motor Speedway. The following image says it all.

https://twitter.com/nascarcasm/status/1194271954003546115

12. Kurt Busch 18 Points

Last week’s ranking: Not Ranked

Unfortunately, Kurt Busch fell one spot short of 11th in the Power Rankings this weekend after finding great parody in the number 11. There’s always next week, Kurt.

OTHER DRIVERS WHO RECEIVED VOTES

THIS WEEK’S VOTING PANEL

Adam Cheek@adamncheekFrontstretch
Rob Dutzar Jr@rob_dutzarRob’s NASCAR Blog
Darian Gilliam@blackflagmatterBlack Flags Matter
Zach Gillispie@gillispie_zachFrontstretch
Dan Greene@librarymonkFrontstretch
Leon Hammack@captainblowdriWorking on My Redneck
Godwin Kelly@godwinkellyThe Daytona Beach News Journal
Mark Kristl@markkristlFrontstretch
Kobe Lambeth@kobelambethKobelambeth.com
Tommy McCoart@nascarman_rrRacing Reference
Trey Normile@rawgatorytRawGator
Joy Tomlinson@jt_giantsfanFrontstretch

Do you agree with our rankings? Think someone was left out, or that one of the top drivers is overrated? Let us know in the comments, and tell others what your top 12 would be.

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About Zach Gillispie

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A lifelong race fan, Zach Gillispie joined Frontstretch fresh out of high school in the summer of 2018 as a news writer. In addition, Zach coordinates Frontstretch's industry-wide weekly power rankings column. Originally from Charlotte, NC, he resides in western PA with his family. He currently attends Grove City College and is a die-hard fan of the Atlanta Braves. Follow Zach on Twitter @gillispie_zach

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