Magic Mile Power Rankings: Homestead
From IR to Victory Lane, Kyle Busch put an emphatic stamp on wacky and wild 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race season. And it was fitting for the 18 car to win his first championship in this kind of season, given he started off his year by missing the first 11 races due to injury in the season-opening XFINITY Series race at Daytona.
Nine months later, Kyle Busch was taking a bow in South Florida, having captured his first-ever title in NASCAR premier stock car division. Busch finished the season with five wins and a 10.8 average finish, the most consistent season of his 11-year career.
Here's a look at the final Magic Mile Power Rankings for the 2015 season:
- Kyle Busch (25 points) - Fitting that the champ would close out the year on top, but it certainly wasn't a guarantee as he came into this final week ranked fifth. But following his fifth win of the season, the driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota was finally able to reach the mountaintop as the best pilot in the business. Oh, any coincidence his son was born on 5/18? Hmm ...
Last week: Fifth, +4
- Jeff Gordon (25 points) - So close, yet so far. With most of NASCAR nation pulling for the 24, Gordon came up just short of leaving the sport with a fifth championship. But it was a storybook season for Gordon, who was celebrated at every track he went to during the season, even getting a Duck Boat ride around the Magic Mile here in September. It will be a season that Gordon and his fans will never forget.
Last week: First, -1
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (22 points) - Junior made the most of his season, closing the year strong in spite of a bad finish in the season finale in Miami. That, however, should give his fans some ironic solace given his dominance in the previous round after falling short at making the cut at Talladega.
Last week: Second, -1
- Brad Keselowski (20 points) - Bad Brad closed out the year with six top-10s in his last seven starts, but a poor finish at Martinsville made all the difference in the world in him challenging for a second championship.
Last week: Sixth, +2
- Kevin Harvick (15 points) - Numbers-wise, Harvick had the best season of his career with three wins, 28 top-10s, including 23 top-fives, and an 8.7 average finishing position. Of course, he'd likely trade it all in for a second straight championship.
Last week: Seventh, +2
- Jimmie Johnson (19 points) - A day late and few dollars short, but it was good to see JJ find his form late in the season. Consistency will be the key for the 48 team if they hope to run for a seventh title in 2016.
Last week: Third, -3
- Joey Logano (16 points) - By all accounts this was a successful season for the 22 team. Hopefully that sour taste will mean sweet things in 2016 for Logano.
Last week: Fourth, -3
- Carl Edwards (10 points) - It was an odd season for Edwards, who remained a title contender right up until Phoenix, where everyone expected him to run well enough to make the Championship Race. Maybe a slow start can be blamed for a lack of consistency for the 19 team, which will hope to feed off the 18 team's success for stronger campaign out of the gates in 2016.
Last week: Eighth, --
- Kurt Busch (9 points) - The three straight top-10s to finish the season were something to build off for 2016, but this team never really got it going on a consistent basis enough in 2015. That said, they did something right if they made the Eliminator Round.
Last week: Ninth, --
- Martin Truex Jr. (9 points) - Truex finally put together the kind of season many thought he'd have at some point in his career. Now, can he continue it with another strong run in 2016?
Last week: 10th, --
Wave Around: Kyle Larson - It was a strong finish to the season for the sophomore, who slumped his way through most of 2015. Expect big things from the 42 car in 2016.
*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)