Magic Mile Power Rankings: Fontana
There's surprising wins then there's what Brad Keselowski did on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. With Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick battling for the lead late in the race, Bad Brad came from the middle of the pack after a late pit stop and zoomed away to his first win of the season, ensuring both Penske Racing vehicles will once again be in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship once again in 2015.
The win was surprising, not only because Keselowski used four fresh tires to move his way from outside the top 10 all the way to the front, but because he hadn't had so much as a top-15 finish in six previous starts at the 2-mile track.
It was a crazy day in the Golden State. So, what effect did it have on the Magic Mile Power Rankings? Was Kevin Harvick able to hold on to the top spot? And how far did Kurt Busch climb?
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 sixth race of the season at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday in Martinsville, Va.:
- Kevin Harvick (41 points) - Kurt Busch's aggressiveness on the final turn allowed Harvick to sail past the 41 and into second place for his eighth straight top-two finish (three more and he will tie the great Richard Petty for the most all-time) Can this team be stopped?
Last week: First, --
- Joey Logano (25 points)- He didn't lead a single lap on Sunday, but Logano once again had a top-10 car. This team needs to figure out how to be a top car late in races, but otherwise it's been a great start to the season for the Daytona 500 champ.
Last week: Second, --
- Martin Truex Jr. (17 points) - Tony Stewart wasn't too happy with the 78 following Sunday's race, but nevertheless Truex crossed the finish line in eighth for his fifth top 10 of the season. Five races into the season and Truex has equaled his top-five (one) and top-10 (five) totals from 2014. Yup, he's for real.
Last week: Third, --
- Ryan Newman(15 points) - Call it a quiet start to the season all you want, but Newman's three top-fives are only two less than he earned in 36 starts last year. Newman is a very real threat week in and week out, but he won't be taken as a serious threat until he can put that 31 car into victory lane.
Last week: Fourth, --
- Brad Keselowski (14 points) - One lap. That's all Bad Brad led on Sunday, but it was good enough to vault him into the win and into the MMPR.
Last week: NR
- Kurt Busch (13 points) - The Outlaw nearly made the MMPR cut in his first start of the season two weeks ago, but a pole, most laps led and third-place finish officially put Busch into the rankings this week. Looks like the suspension did little to slow down the amazing chemistry of Busch and crew chief Tony Gibson.
Last week: NR
- Jimmie Johnson (13 points) - With five career wins in Fontana, it was surprising not to see the 48 leading the way for even a single lap. But another top-10 finish puts the six-time Sprint Cup Series champion in a comfortable spot both here and in the overall point standings.
Last week: Fifth, -2
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (13 points) - How quickly Phoenix has been forgotten, as Junior rebounded nicely with a sixth at Auto Club. The strong start has to appease Junior Nation, but until he finds victory lane, the fans of the sport's most popular driver will be on pins and needles.
Last week: Sixth, -2
- Kasey Kahne (8 points) - Like Newman, KK has been handling his season very quietly. The 17th-place finish was the second in three weeks for Kahne, but a fourth at Phoenix sandwiched between certainly shows signs that this team is close.
Last week: Seventh, -2
- Denny Hamlin (5 points) - A 28th at Auto Club has to be frustrating after leading 56 laps, the second most of any driver on Sunday. How the team rebounds this week will go a long way in showing if this team can handle the adversity of a frustrating week.
Last week: Ninth, -1
Wave Around: Paul Menard - A huge fourth-place finish on Sunday for Menard, who had been fairly mediocre to start the season. This has to be a building block for this team, which has shown streaks of consistency in the past only to falter when it matters most.
*This list is comprised of drivers that compete in the Sprint Cup Series on full-time basis.