Magic Mile Power Rankings: Phoenix
And then there were four. That's all that's left as the final race remains on the schedule: the Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday.
While he won't be competing for this year's championship in South Florida, Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued the red-hot streak of Hendrick Motorsports, becoming the third straight driver in the organization to win a Chase race. Jeff Gordon, who will get a chance to race for the title on Sunday, won at Martinsville, six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson won at Texas last week, and Junior picked up the victory in the rain-shortened race this past weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.
This being the last week of the season, here's a look at the rankings heading into the 36th and final race on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.:
- Jeff Gordon (25 points) - The 24 team is running too well and too consistently right now to think that Martinsville was nothing more than a fluke. Gordon will have his work cut our for him against Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., but the four-time Sprint Cup champion is hardly a long-shot to leave Miami, and NASCAR, as a champion.
Last week: Second , +1
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (24 points) - Sunday's win at PIRprobably won't be the most memorable victory of his career, but Junior now has seven wins in his last two seasons after a nine-year stretch that saw the sport's most popular driver visit victory lane just four times.
Last week: Eighth, +6
- Jimmie Johnson (21 points) - Back-to-back top-fives for Six-Time, which equals his total from his previous 16 races.
Last week: Ninth, +6
- Joey Logano (21 points) - Logano will finish the season with six wins (assuming he doesn't win at Homestead), giving him 11 victories in the last two seasons. And yet, at the end of the day, he will be on the outside looking in at the championship.
Last week: First, -3
- Kyle Busch (20 points) - For the first time ever, Rowdy Busch heads into the final race of the season with a chance to win the championship. With 33 career Sprint Cup wins, it seems hard to believe that this is his first real shot at the title. But at 30 years of age and 389 Cup starts under his belt, he has just that opportunity on Sunday.
Last week: Fifth, --
- Brad Keselowski (16 points) - Kes picked up his fifth top-10 in his last six starts on Sunday, but the 2 team simply didn't do enough to earn a spot into Sunday's title race.
Last week: Third, -3
- Kevin Harvick (15 points) - Somehow, someway Happy Harvick has a chance to bring home a second consecutive championship.
Last week: Seventh, --
- Carl Edwards (11 points) - Cousin Carl will miss the Championship Race by five points. Now that's a tough pill to swallow.
Last week: Fourth, -4
- Kurt Busch (9 points) - The offseason debate will rage on after Busch was pushed to the back of the pack after beating pole-sitter Jimmie Johnson to the start/finish line to begin Sunday's race.
Last week: 10th, --
- Martin Truex Jr. (9 points) - The 2015 Ryan Newman will have a chance to win the title on Sunday. No, seriously.
Last week: Sixth, -4
Wave Around: Aric Almirola - He is quietly having a splendid Chase, earning four top-10s, something he did only twice in his first 26 starts of the regular season.
*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)