(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Power Rankings: Daytona 500 Edition 

I have been told I have the gift of snark, but I am still numb after this year’s Daytona 500. Does anyone really care who won the race? Does anyone really care which teams showed more strength than we expected? Does ANYONE care about anything except hearing better and better news about Ryan Newman?

I started covering auto racing as a semi-professional writer back in 1997, which was the same year the Newman made his debut in NASCAR. This is a guy whose career I followed from the short tracks as a fan, to the old A-B-C Development program at Penske Racing (Arca-Busch-Cup). This week forgive my snark as I worry about my fellow Purdue graduate. Boiler Up Rocketman and get well soon!  

Let’s see who is in the Top 16 heading after the Great American Race. 

  1. Ryan Newman: Number one in our hearts right now! 
  2. Martin Truex Jr. –  It takes more than a crash at Daytona to change my mind over who is number one in the Cup division this season. 
  3. Denny Hamlin – Three Daytona 500 wins in a career moves the best current Cup driver who has never won a Cup title up a few spots in the Power Rankings. 
  4. Kyle Busch – Hard to move the defending champion down more than one slot based on a bad finish at the Daytona 500 that was not of his making. 
  5. Kevin Harvick – The best of the Ford teams after Daytona and now the real racing starts where this team should be even stronger.
  6. Joey Logano – Look on the bright side when his racing career ends he will have a second career on the TV Game Show Hollywood Squares: “I’ll take Joey Logano for the block.” 
  7. Kyle Larson – It will be hard to justify his ranking this high when the real racing starts unless his team got much better in the offseason. 
  8. Chase Elliott – Now that the real racing is set to begin we get to see if the Hendrick Motorsports improvement was just a superspeedway thing or not. After all, the No. 9 team won a stage in the Great American Race.
  9. Ryan Blaney – Can’t imagine what this young man must be feeling right now, but his toughness will show in the next couple of weeks. 
  10. Brad Keselowski – Just didn’t look like the old Bad Brad at Daytona to me, but the racing beginning this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will show just how far and how fast he needs to drop in the Power Rankings. 
  11. Erik Jones – Will we finally see the break out season from this talented young racer? The next month races will show whether he is a rising star or someone who will be looking for work soon.
  12. William Byron – Bad luck seems to find him on superspeedways, but the real racing starts this week and we will see if Hendrick Motorsports has improved or not. 
  13. Jimmie Johnson – Fully admit this might be a sentimental pick that the Power Rankings will have to give up on sooner rather than later … but he has won seven Cup titles. 
  14. Aric Almirola – Another guy who has to show more to maintain his place in the Power Rankings as NASCAR heads out West.
  15. Clint Bowyer – Once again the funny man was looking as if he would be laughing all the way to the bank only to have his usual luck at Daytona.  
  16. Matt DiBenedetto– The Woods Brothers have always been good on the bigger tracks and it will be interesting to see what this team and driver combo can do as its the drivers best shot in quality equipment.
  17. Christopher Bell -The rookie showed some skills at Daytona until time ran out on his good luck. 

Do you agree or disagree with our rankings? Let us know and we might even include your comment on next week’s edition of Power Rankings! 

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Dennis a.k.a. DMIC has been covering NASCAR racing since 1998. After spending 23 years as a professional weather forecaster, Dennis still didn't know what he wanted to be when he grew up, so he started covering auto racing full time. He is the moderator of the Race Track Business Conference - an all-day educational seminar covering the business of speed - and is the owner of DMIC Media & Marketing where he spends his time mouthing off about all kinds of sports. He is also the play-by-play voice for the professional Ultimate Disc team the Chicago Wildfire of the American Ultimate Disc League. Dennis can be heard every Saturday on The Final Inspection on 105.7FM The Fan in Milwaukee, Wis. talking NASCAR, and you can listen on the Radio.com app.

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