Magic Mile Power Rankings: Talladega
Talladega Superspeedway marked the 10th race of the season for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, meaning there are just 16 races left for drivers to earn an automatic bid into the Chase for the Championship. The most recent addition to the playoff might make fans happy, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. essentially punched his ticked into the top 16 with his sixth career win at the superspeedway.
While the victory gave Junior a half-dozen for his career, it was the first time he'd visited victory lane at Talladega since 2004. His win that year was his fifth in seven starts at the Alabama track, which included four straight wins from 2001-03.
It was a huge win for Junior and his team, but was it enough for him to make the jump back into the Magic Mile Power Rankings? Is Jimmie Johnson still No. 1? Where are Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano, and is it true that Matt Kenseth moved up even though he finished 25th?
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 11th race of the season at Kansas Speedway on Sunday in Kansas City, Kan.:
- Jimmie Johnson (24 points)-Think the 48 is getting tired of hearing about what a great year the 4 is having? Well, the 24 points you see here include a minus-3 at Martinsville, where he finished 35th on March 29. Since then, Johnson has finished first, second, third and second.
Last week: First, --
- Kevin Harvick (17 points) - This guy just continues to get it done. His eighth at Talladega makes it three straight top-10s at the superspeedway for the defending series champion, a consistency that is very tough to accomplish.
Last week: Third, +1
- Matt Kenseth (17 points) - So the 20 can finish 25th at Talladega and climb four spots in the MMPR? Well, yes. The MMPR is based off the last five races, not just what you did last week, and if you go back six races, there were a lot of drivers that were better than Kenseth. But in the last five, Kenseth has been rock solid, even earning a win at Bristol.
Last week: Seventh, +4
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.(14 points) - And just like that, Junior is in the Chase.
Last week: NR
- Martin Truex Jr.(13 points) - In a week that saw four unlikely top-10 finishers — Paul Menard (third), Ryan Blaney (fourth), Sam Hornish Jr. (sixth), Josh Wise (10th) — Truex (fifth) once again showed why he's a serious candidate for the championship this year, earning his ninth top-10 and second top-five of the season.
Last week: Eighth, +3
- Kurt Busch (13 points) - Busch finished 12th on Sunday at dropped four spots in the MMPR. Yeah, he's been that good.
Last week: Second, -4
- Jeff Gordon (12 points) - After six straight top-10s, a bad day was due. It's just surprising it happened at Talladega, where he's won six times in his career.
Last week: Fifth, -2
- Denny Hamlin (11 points)- With five laps led and a ninth-place finish, Hamlin has rebounded nicely from a pair of finishes outside the top 20, which includes a disappointing 22nd last week at Richmond, a track he's won twice and owns a career average finish of 11.1.
Last week: NR
- Jamie McMurray (11 points) - The 1 team has only one finish outside the top 20 in the last eight races, and McMurray's 11th-place finish on Sunday at Talladega was his best finish since winning the Chase race at the superspeedway in 2013.
Last week: Ninth, --
- Joey Logano (11 points)- It's hit-or-miss for the 22. In 10 starts this season, Logano has eight top-10s, but has finished 40th (Bristol) and 33rd (Talladega) in the other two races.
Last week: Fourth, -6
Wave Around: Paul Menard - The 27 has started to turn some heads in recent weeks, as Menard has finishes of 11th, 15th and a third (Talladega) in his last three starts.
*This list is comprised of drivers that compete in the Sprint Cup Series on full-time basis.