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Magic Mile Power Rankings: Darlington
The retro-themed Bojangles' Southern 500 on Sunday night brought back everything from old-school paint schemes to legendary broadcasters. But in the end, it was Carl Edwards, whose new school approach to winning - choosing a backflip instead of a burnout - brought everyone back to the present in the penultimate race of regular season at Darlington Raceway.
It was the second win of the season for Edwards, and the seventh in the last 10 races for Joe Gibbs Racing, which has all four of its drivers locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship - starting on Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway before heading here for the SYLVANIA 300 on Sunday, Sept. 27.
With just one week left in the regular season, here's a look at the rankings heading into the 26th race on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va.:
- Joey Logano (30 points) - Since June 7 at Pocono, Logano has finished outside of the top-five just three times. #Yikes
Last week: Second, +1
- Carl Edwards (22 points) - Five straight top-10s for Cousin Carl, who is getting hot at the perfect time.
Last week: Seventh, +5
- Matt Kenseth (22 points) - Back-to-back finishes for 42nd and 21st has to have the 20 camp a bit nervous, but the two wins in his last five races certainly help mend the wounds of the last two weeks.
Last week: Second, -1
- Brad Keselowski (21 points) - Eight straight top-10s for Bad Brad. A second title is a very real possibility, but getting back in the win column - something he hasn't done since March 22 - is an absolute must.
Last week: Fifth, +1
- Kevin Harvick (17 points) - He has an average finish of 7.4 this season. That's just ridiculous.
Last week: Fourth, -1
- Denny Hamlin (14 points) - Three straight top-fives and back-to-back third-place finishes. In fact, Hamlin has finished third in four of the last five races. He's a player, folks.
Last week: Sixth, --
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (14 points) - Tenth at Michigan; ninth at Bristol; eighth at Darlington. Seventh at Richmond this week?
Last week: Eighth, +1
- Kyle Busch (13 points) - Kyle has cooled off a bit since winning three straight and four of five in late July. That is, if you consider three top-10s in his last four starts (the fourth was an 11th) cooling off.
Last week: Third, -5
- Jimmie Johnson (8 points) - It's a bit unfair to criticize a six-time champion, but an inconsistent second half of the season has to have the 48 fans a bit apprehensive. But, then again, this time thrives in the Chase, so let's hold off from counting this guy out just yet.
Last week: 10th, +1
- Martin Truex Jr. (6 points) - It's nice to see the 78 rally after a superhuman first half of the season. Truex has two top-10s in his last three starts and is still poised to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Last week: NR
Wave Around: Kurt Busch - It was a solid sixth for Kurt at Darlington, where he went five consecutive starts without a top-10 finish.
*This list is comprised of drivers that compete in the Sprint Cup Series on full-time basis.
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)