Magic Mile Power Rankings: Talladega
Chase Race #6 - Camping World RV Sales 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
For the second straight week a driver not in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship finished ahead of the pack. This time, it was Jamie McMurray taking the checkered flag, winning for the second time at the Superspeedway.
But it was also a big day for Chase drivers, too, as only four finished inside the top 10. And with Jimmie Johnson finishing seven spots ahead of Matt Kenseth in 13th, it's Five-Time taking a four-point lead with only four races remaining in NASCAR's playoff.
Here's a look at the Magic Mile Power Rankings heading into Sunday's race at Martinsville Speedway:
1. Jimmie Johnson - A 13th-place finish might not have been the outcome Five-Time was looking for, but at the end of the day he did exactly what he needed to. He finished ahead of Matt Kenseth on the track and now has his first lead in the Chase by four points over the former points leader.
Previous ranking: First, --
2. Kevin Harvick - The reality is that the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship is a two-pilot race. But it's hard to ignore how good Mr. Happy has been over the last four weeks, finishing outside the top-10 only twice (20th at NHMS and 12th this past week at Talladega) over the last six races.
Previous ranking: Third, +1
3. Matt Kenseth - A four-point lead entering the wild ride at Talladega, Kenseth left the Alabama superspeedway with his worst finish since a 24th on Aug. 4 at Pocono. The 32 laps led do point to a fairly solid day, but two finishes outside the top 10 in the last three weeks certainly have put the former champion behind the 8-ball.
Previous ranking: Second, -1
4. Kyle Busch - It has to be frustrating for Rowdy. Five top-fives, including two runner-ups, and he sits 26 points out of the lead. The good news? It isn't insurmountable, but it's clear that Busch is going to need a little help from the 48 and 20 to make a run at his first championship.
Previous ranking: Fourth, --
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - His second runner-up finish in the last four weeks, one has to wonder just how interesting this Chase would be had he not started everything off with a 35th at Chicagoland.
Previous ranking: Sixth, +1
6. Jeff Gordon - If nothing else, Gordon has made sure not to waste his opportunity in the Chase. Solid showing from the 13th entry.
Previous ranking: Fifth, -1
7. Clint Bowyer - Make it three top-10s for Bowyer in the Chase. But given that his best finish is a ninth, it's safe to say this Chase is all but over for the 15.
Previous ranking: 10th, +3
8. Ryan Newman - The Rocketman is no longer in championship contention, but back-to-back top-10s has to be looked at as a positive.
Previous ranking: 11th, +3
9. Greg Biffle - When you're in the Chase, you need to be running up front. Biffle led five laps on Sunday, but his three straight finishes outside the top 10 make him an also ran at this point.
Previous ranking: 12th, +3
10. Kurt Busch - The inconsistencies have made this team look like a one-car organization for the first time pretty much all season.
Previous ranking: Seventh, -3
11. Carl Edwards - This almost seems like a Ford issue at this point. Where is the speed?
Previous ranking: Ninth, -2
12. Joey Logano - Hit or miss since the Chase started, Logano has swung and missed two weeks in a row now.
Previous ranking: 13th, +1
13. Kasey Kahne - Yikes. It's just painful to watch at this point.
Previous ranking: Eighth, -5
Top Non-Chaser. Jamie McMurray - Another impressive day for McMurray, who now has two top-fives, including Sunday's win, over the last five races.