Magic Mile Power Rankings: Atlanta
Two weeks into the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and two spots have already (theoretically) been locked down for the Chase. Love or hate the new points system, it's been an awesome start to the season, with competitive racing at in Florida and Georgia before the series heads West -- Las Vegas, Phoenix and Fontana -- for the next three weeks.
Jimmie Johnson was the big winner this past week at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The six-time Sprint Cup champion came from the back of the pack in 37th to take the checkered flag for his fourth career win at the 1.5 mile quad oval, tying him with David Pearson and Fred Lorenzen for eighth all-time.
The win was a dominant one for the 48 team, but was it enough to eclipse Joey Logano for the top spot? Let's see who made the list after Week 2 in Atlanta.
Win - 10 points
Top-5 - 5 points
Top-10 - 3 points
Most Laps Led - 2 points
Pole - 1 point
21-30 - Minus-1
31-40 - Minus-3
41-43 - Minus-5
*The most recent five races are counted.
(Last five weeks' point total in parentheses)
Here's a look at the MMPR heading into the third race of the season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday:
- Joey Logano (16 points)- Sliced Bread is off a to a red-hot start, winning the Daytona 500 and following that up with a fourth-place finish at Atlanta this weekend. But Logano also took the pole this past weekend, showing that this team has everything clicking on all cylinders right now.
Last week: Third, +1
- Jimmie Johnson (15 points) - It's not that he won at Atlanta that's surprising, but it's the fact that this team can go from an average car to a great car during the race that sets the 48 team apart from all others. Johnson dominated the second half of the race on Sunday and now is a virtual lock to make a run at a seventh championship in the fall.
Last week: Third, +1
- Kevin Harvick (11 points) - October 26, 2014. That was the last time Harvick finished outside the top two. Pretty ridiculous. Happy finished last season with back-to-back wins to win his first championship, and he's off to a fast start again this season with back-to-back runner-up finishes. What championship hangover?
Last week: Fourth, +1
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.(10 points) - Consecutive third-place finishes to start the season for Junior and he drops in the rankings. Wow. Fans should be excited about this team's ability to start the season hot, though, given the changes to the rule package and a new crew chief on the pit box. Things look very bright moving forward for the 88 team this season.
Last week: Second, -2
- Martin Truex Jr. (6 points) - Obviously Truex fans will be pining for a win, but the one-car team has shown consistent speed and an ability to adapt to the race in the first two weeks. A victory is a very attainable goal for the 78 team this season and it wouldn't be a shock to anyone to see Truex as one of the top 16 at the end of the 26-race regular season.
Last week: Seventh, +2
- A.J. Allemendinger (3 points) - How about that run by the Dinger on Sunday? Allmendinger's seventh-place finish at a cookie-cutter track during the first race under the new rules package speaks volumes, as the 47 team is either ahead of the curve or everyone else is just playing from behind.
Last week: NR
- Casey Mears (3 points) - There's a lot of racing left this season, and the grind of the NASCAR schedule has a way of sifting out the contenders from the pretenders. But anyone thinking that Mears got lucky during a restrictor-plate race at Daytona has to have a different opinion after the 13 team raced its way into the top 15 on Sunday at Atlanta. Mears is going to have to consistently turn average days into great days if he hopes to make a serious playoff run, but so far, so good.
Last week: Eighth, +1
- Kasey Kahne (3 points) - With all the noise coming out of the Hendrick Motorsports camp these days, it's easy to forget there's a fourth car that's gotten off to a pretty good start in 2015. A ninth- and 14th-place finish at Daytona and Atlanta, respectively, doesn't exactly scream "championship run," but Kahne has turned something into nothing twice already this season. That said, Kahne is a year away from no longer being the young buck on a team full of big-named veterans.
Last week: Ninth, +1
- Matt Kenseth (2 points) - A disappointing Daytona 500 was erased with a top-five Sunday at Atlanta. Kenseth looked strong at the 1.5-mile speedway and showed that with Kyle Busch out indefinitely, he's the top driver in Joe Gibbs Racing's big-named stable.
Last week: NR
- Clint Bowyer (2 points) - He plummets, yes, but he still hangs on. This weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway could be a big hill to climb for Bowyer, who has only a single top-five finish in nine career starts there.
Last week: Sixth, -4
Wave Around: Brad Keselowski - He started 12th and finished ninth. The 2 team will want to be better than that moving forward, but after a 41st-place finish at Daytona, this was a strong step in that direction.
*This list is comprised of drivers that compete in the Sprint Cup Series on full-time basis