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Magic Mile Power Rankings: Pocono
Well, that was interesting. Pocono Raceway, long known as a race that lacks excitement, stepped up in a big way on Sunday afternoon. Driver after driver fell as fuel mileage became a serious issue for everyone running up front ... except Matt Kenseth.
A top-10 car for much of the day, Kenseth picked up his second win of the season, taking the checkers after the likes of Joey Logano and Kyle Busch watched the open track in front of them disappear thanks to an empty gas tank.
It was hardly a lucky win for Kenseth, though, who has been running better over the last four weeks and now might be primed for a push to his third championship. That said, was his win enough to push him up to the point in the Magic Mile Power Rankings this week or has Rowdy Busch done enough in the last five weeks to stay out front?
Here's a look at the MMPR heading into the 22nd race of the season at Watkins Glen International on Sunday in upstate New York:
- Kyle Busch(32 points) - Less than a lap away from his fourth straight win, Rowdy ran out of gas heading into Turn 1 at Pocono and finished 21st. Yeah, this guy is Chase-bound.
Last week: First, --
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.(21 points) - Junior will likely fall a bit as 10 of his 21 points come from his win at Daytona, and Watkins Glen could be an issue for the 88 team, as Junior hasn't finished inside the top-10 there since 2005.
Last week: Fifth, +3
- Matt Kenseth(20 points) - The win at Pocono certainly vaults him up to his spot here, but it's well-deserved when you consider he hasn't finished worse than seventh in his last four starts.
Last week: Ninth, +6
- Brad Keselowski(17 points) - After slumping through June, Bad Brad has found his groove once again, finishing inside the top-10 in his last four starts, including two runner-up finishes in the last three weeks. Now, if they could just get those pit stops figured out.
Last week: Seventh, +3
- Joey Logano (16 points)- Like Harvick, Logano was the victim of some bad luck on Sunday, running out of fuel with only a handful of laps remaining as he held the lead. It ended a streak of three consecutive top-fives.
Last week: Third, -2
- Kevin Harvick(15 points) - Hard to knock Harvick for a blown engine, but the 42nd at Pocono does drop the California native down the ladder for the first time this season. Something tells us he's going to be fine, after all, it was only his third finish all seasonoutside the top-10.
Last week: Second, -4
- Denny Hamlin(14 points) - Three top-fives in the last five races has the 11 team in good position. Consistency is going to have to rear its head soon, though, as it's been 15 races since Hamlin last found victory lane.
Last week: Sixth, -1
- Kurt Busch(11 points) - While the MMPR only looks at the last five races, it's hard not to be impressed with what Busch has done over the last couple months. The 37th at Pocono this week ends a streak of seven straight races finishing inside the top-10.
Last week: Fourth, -4
- Jimmie Johnson(10 points) - It's hard not to laugh and want to give the 48 a pat on the back after his Twitter vent following a sixth at Pocono. Going dark this time of year is nothing new for this team. For Johnson, it's all about the Chase.
Last week: Eighth, -1
- Jeff Gordon(9 points) - Four top-10s in his last five starts is only magnifying given the only blemish during that span of races was a 42nd at Indy, where he has won five times in his career. Things are going well right now for the 24 team, but that camp would feel a heck of a lot better heading into the Chase with a win under its belt.
Last week: NR
Wave Around: A.J. Allmendinger - A top-10 finish might be just the shot in the arm this team needs heading to The Glen, where Dinger won and earned a spot in the Chase one year ago.
*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)