Magic Mile Power Rankings: Martinsville
Six weeks into the NASCAR season and it's finally time to take a breath. It's been a whirlwind start with five different winners and a driver that's been so dominant that an eighth-place finish at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday seemed like a finish outside the top 30.
The sixth race of the season also marks the first time this season in Magic Mile Power Rankings that a race will be dropped off, as the points accumulated in the season-opening Daytona 500 no longer count (see the MMPR format below).
Denny Hamlin put a lot of smiles on the faces of employees throughout Joe Gibbs Racing (our thoughts and prayers are with J.D. Gibbs), and it was a terrific day all the way through for the JGR team, which needed a boost. Was the win enough to vault Hamlin into the top-five? And how much did Kevin Harvick's eighth-place finish hurt him in rankings?
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 Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night, April 11, in Fort Worth, Texas:
- Kevin Harvick (41 points) - The streak is over. So what, he's still the best driver in NASCAR right now.
Last week: First, --
- Brad Keselowski (24 points)- From unranked to No. 2, this is the biggest jump of the MMPR season so far. Bad Brad was anything but in the closing laps, running hard but fair against Hamlin and eventually settling for a very strong second-place finish.
Last week: NR
- Joey Logano (21 points)- A solid all-around afternoon for Sliced Bread, who started from the pole, led the second most laps all day with 108 and finished third behind his teammate — kind of like here.
Last week: Second, -1
- Martin Truex Jr. (17 points) - His consistency is going to pay off with a win eventually, as the driver of Furniture Row's only vehicle has six straight top-10s to begin the season.
Last week: Third, -1
- Ryan Newman(17 points) - He started on the front row and even contended for the lead for much of the first fifth of the race. But Newman faded during the second half, finished 27th and four laps down.
Last week: Fourth, -1
- Kurt Busch (13 points) - It's only taken Busch three weeks to climb the MMPR ladder. Hard to believe, but a 14th-place finish on Sunday was his first finish outside the top-five in three starts this season.
Last week: NR
- Denny Hamlin (10 points) - It's about time! An inconsistent start to the season has plagued the 11 team, but a strong all-around day — from restarts to pit road — made Hamlin the odds-on favorite from start to finish at Martinsville.
Last week: Ninth, +2
- Matt Kenseth (10 points) - The 20 car actually looked like the Toyota to beat toward the end of the race, but in the end it was his teammate finding victory lane. Nevertheless, Kenseth took a big step in the right direction after a couple sub-par weeks.
Last week: 10th, +2
- Kasey Kahne (5 points) - Another quiet top-10 for KK, who actually contended for the win for a good majority of the race before fading to the stronger cars.
Last week: Seventh, -2
- Jeff Gordon (5 points) - You could hear the disappointment in Gordon's voice as he apologized to his team following a late-race speeding penalty. The best car on the track at the time, the 24 was a few laps away from taking his first race of the season, but in the end had to settle for ninth.
Last week: NR
Wave Around: David Ragan - It was definitely a feel-good moment (and a wipe-the-brow moment) on Sunday for Ragan, who hasn't exactly filled comfortably into the big shoes left by Kyle Busch. But Sunday's fifth-place finish was certainly a step in the right direction 18 sub.
*This list is comprised of drivers that compete in the Sprint Cup Series on full-time basis.