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|07/22/18||From Zipline to Finish Line|
Magic Mile Power Rankings: Bristol
Well, that was different, wasn't it? Bristol Motor Speedway has a way of shaking up a season, and Sunday was a perfect example of what can happen at the Tennessee track. The half-mile oval has a way of making and breaking seasons for teams, and for one Joe Gibbs Racing driver, the season was made as it looks like he's all but assured himself a place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship playoffs.
Kenseth led 47 laps, but it was the last one that was most important as he beat Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle to the checkered flag for his fourth-career win at Bristol — the most wins he has at any track on the circuit. That wasn't a surprise, but the uncharacteristic finishes of Joey Logano (40th), Kevin Harvick (38th) and Brad Keselowski (35th) certainly prove that a bad day can happen to anyone.
Were the bad days enough to knock any of those aforementioned pilots out of the Magic Mile Power Rankings or is Happy Harvick still going strong at No. 1? And as Kenseth's win enough for him to crack the rankings?
Win: 10 points
Top-5: 5 points
Top-10: 3 points
Most Laps Led: 2 points
Pole: 1 point
*The most recent five races are counted.
(Last five weeks' point total in parentheses)
Here's a look at the MMPR heading into the ninth race of the season at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night in Richmond, Va.:
- Kevin Harvick (27 points) - You never want to see a driver struggle or get in an accident, for that matter. But it was nice to see that Harvick is human — at least sometimes. Clearly he's been so good that he still ranks first, seven points clear of second place.
Last week: First, --
- Brad Keselowski (20 points)- Bad Brad has been red hot since finishing 41st at Daytona, but a spin and a crunch from teammate Joey Logano ended Keselowski's run at a seven consecutive top-10 finishes.
Last week: Second, --
- Jeff Gordon (17 points) - The ship has officially been righted and Gordon is full speed ahead as he races toward a championship in his Sprint Cup swan song. Five straight top-10s after an abysmal start, Gordon placed third this week at Bristol and will now look toward Richmond for that first win, a track he's won only twice in 44 career starts. Now that would be a statement win.
Last week: Seventh, +4
- Jimmie Johnson (17 points)-Only this team could find a way to turn what would be a 30th-place finish or worse for other teams into a runner-up finish.
Last week: NR
- Ryan Newman (14 points)- One of the few drivers that entered Bristol hot and left it hot, too. Newman finished fifth for his fourth top-five in his last six starts.
Last week: Sixth, +1
- Kurt Busch (14 points) - After charging out of the gates, Busch has slowed down over the past three weeks, finishing with a pair of 14th-place finishes and a 15th this weekend in Bristol. Richmond might not be the best bounce-back track, though, as Busch has just five top-fives, including one win there in 28 career starts.
Last week: Fifth, -1
- Joey Logano (14 points)- Another driver watched his consecutive top-10s to start the season go up in smoke when the Sliced Bread crashed into his teammate. Oh well, something says this team will be just find moving forward.
Last week: Third, -4
- Matt Kenseth (12 points) - Given how many wins Kenseth had two seasons ago, it doesn't seem like it's been that long since the last time he visited victory lane. Well, believe it or not, his last win was here at New Hampshire in September of 2013. But that string of 51 consecutive races without a win ended on Sunday night at Bristol.
Last week: NR
- Martin Truex Jr.(11 points) - For the first time this season, Truex finished outside the top-10. Pretty staggering accomplishment given he had a total of five all of last season. It won't be long before this team assures itself a spot in the playoffs.
Last week: Fourth, -5
- Jamie McMurray (10 points) - A ho-hum day for McMurray, who finished a lap down. But anytime you can finish near the lead lap and finish 14th, and it's considered an average day, you're doing something right.
Last week: Ninth, -1
Wave Around: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - Only the third top-five finish of his career, Stenhouse now has two of those at Bristol — one of the toughest tracks on the circuit.
*This list is comprised of drivers that compete in the Sprint Cup Series on full-time basis.