Magic Mile Power Rankings: Talladega
To say the ending of Sunday's CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway was marred in controversy might be a bit of an understatement. But at the end of the day, four championship hopefuls watched their chances go up in smoke, while eight others are moving on to the Eliminator Round in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Joey Logano was the big winner on Sunday, edging Dale Earnhardt Jr. during a late restart that gave the 22 team their third straight win. It was the first time in the early history of the new Chase format that a driver swept an entire round. The Contender Round saw Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Earnhardt fail to move on to the third and final round before the Nov. 22 Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway
With just four weeks remaining in the regular season, here's a look at the rankings heading into the 33rd race on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgewood, Va.:
- Joey Logano (40 points) - Whether you agree with the call or not at Talladega, Logano was running up front at the end of the race and in position to win a race under yellow. That's three straight wins for the 22 team, which looks pretty much unstoppable right now.
Last week: First, --
- Kevin Harvick (18 points) - As if the controversy for the guy in first place wasn't bad enough, now Happy Harvick has the whole NASCAR community up in arms over the way he approached the end of the race on Sunday. Regardless of that, he's still alive in the Chase, making his run at back-to-back titles even more of a hot topic with four races to go.
Last week: Fifth, +3
- Carl Edwards (17 points) - In the last 12 weeks, Cousin Carl has finished outside of the top-10 just twice - and both those finishes were inside the top-15. Edwards may only have two wins this season, but don't count out the 19 to earn one of those coveted four spots for the Championship Race in Homestead.
Last week: Third, --
- Jeff Gordon (15 points) - The dream of going out as a champion isn't completely out of the question, as the 24 team has not only showed a little speed over the last month or so, but has stayed out of trouble. Gordon now enters the next round at three tracks he's combined to win 11 times.
Last week: Ninth, +5
- Brad Keselowski (12 points) - With his teammate dominating the headlines after three straight victories in the Contender Round, Bad Brad has quietly gone about his business with three consecutive top-10s to move into the Eliminator Round.
Last week: Eighth, +3
- Denny Hamlin (12 points) - Issues with the roof hatch on Hamlin's No. 11 Toyota Camry spelled the end of a title run for a team that never looked dominant but never looked out of contention, either.
Last week: Second, -4
- Kurt Busch (11 points) - He hasn't won a race since June, but Busch is doing just enough to get by and is still a threat to advance to the Championship Race thanks to fifth at Charlotte, sixth at Kansas and a 10th-place finish on Sunday at Talladega.
Last week: Sixth, -1
- Martin Truex Jr. (11 points) - He hasn't found the form that he showed when he opened the season with seven consecutive top-10s and 14 top-10s in the first 15 starts. But Truex is still very much alive in the hunt for this year's Chase.
Last week: Tenth, +2
- Matt Kenseth (10 points) - One of the favorites to win the championship watched his title hopes evaporate over the last three weeks. It's a tough blow for the 20 team, but a huge sigh of relief for everyone else that's still fighting in the Chase.
Last week: Fourth, -5
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (9 points) - The debate continues in regards to the end of the race at Talladega. But the reality is, Junior didn't do enough to move on and now he, and his fans, will have to wait until 2016 for that coveted championship.
Last week: NR
Wave Around: Paul Menard - A solid sixth-place finish for Menard at , who earned his first top-10 finish since June 14 at Michigan.
*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)