Magic Mile Power Rankings: Richmond
Kurt Busch has been simply dominant since returning from his three-week suspension to start the season. In six starts, Busch has three top-fives and an 8.7 average finishing position. His win on Sunday certainly helped those statistics, but the driver of the No. 41 for Stewart-Haas Racing has come back in a big way and is now a serious threat to teammate Kevin Harvick's quest at winning back-to-back championships.
Busch led the most laps in Sunday's race at Richmond International Raceway, driving away from his teammate in the late stages to win by 0.754 seconds and pick up his first victory of the season and his second in as many seasons after going winless in 2012 and 2013.
While Busch has certainly climbed the Magic Mile Power Rankings in the last few weeks, but was his win on Sunday enough to knock off six-time reigning MMPR leader Harvick? Or is there another driver that finally eclipsed Happy for the No. 1 ranking?
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 10th race of the season at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday in Lincoln, Ala.:
- Jimmie Johnson (22 points)-Another solid all-around day for the 48 team, which takes over the top spot for the first time this season. Johnson has clearly put that rough stretch of races behind him as he now has three consecutive top-three finishes, sparked by a win three weeks ago in Texas.
Last week: Fourth, +3
- Kurt Busch (21 points) - It's been a hell of a run for Busch, who has likely earned himself a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship for the third straight season. Busch had a ridiculously dominant car on Sunday, leading 291 of the 400 laps at the .75-mile oval.
Last week: Sixth, +4
- Kevin Harvick (19 points) - You know you're good when you can finish a race in second place and lose the top spot in the MMPR for the first time in six weeks.
Last week: First, -2
- Joey Logano (17 points)- The pole-sitter at Richmond followed up his qualifying run with a fifth-place finish. It was a strong rebound for Sliced Bread, who had his first finish of the season outside the top 10 at Bristol on April 19.
Last week: Seventh, +3
- Jeff Gordon (17 points) - The 24 team has solidified itself as a top team this season. Now he needs to find a way to win a race. After an eighth at Richmond, Gordon heads to Talladega this weekend, a track he's won at six times in 44 career starts.
Last week: Third, -3
- Brad Keselowski (17 points)- He led nine laps on Sunday, but his car had a bit of a mechanical failure that effected his speed down the stretch. But a 17th-place finish wasn't too shabby given the circumstances.
Last week: Second, -4
- Matt Kenseth (15 points) - On pace to have his fourth-highest finishing average (14.6) since winning the championship in 2003, Kenseth does have a win in the bank and is essentially playing with house money from here until Chicago.
Last week: Eighth, -1
- Martin Truex Jr.(11 points) - After eight straight top-10s to open the season, Truex took a step back last week at Bristol. Well, it was one step back and a giant leap back forward for the 78 which finished 10th at Richmond — where he owns a 21.4 career average finish.
Last week: Ninth, +1
- Jamie McMurray (10 points) - It's time to take this team seriously. McMurray now has three top-10s in his last four starts and has been in a position to win late in the race in two of his last three.
Last week: 10th, +1
- Ryan Newman (9 points) - An 11th-place finish for Newman on Sunday drops him to 10th in the MMPR. But with four top-fives already this year — he had five all of last year en route to a second-place finish in the standings — show that this team is here to stay.
Last week: Fifth, -5
Wave Around: Kasey Kahne - A sixth at Richmond marked this as a nice bounce-back week for Kahne after a 37th-place finish at Bristol.
*This list is comprised of drivers that compete in the Sprint Cup Series on full-time basis.