Remember when all anyone could talk about was the fact Jimmie Johnson hadn’t won a race yet in 2014, and he kept saying over and over again not to worry? Looks like he was right. Johnson played the late-race pit strategy perfectly en route to his first career win at Michigan and third overall in 2014. Six-Time has now become the first driver this season to win three races and has only four tracks at which he remains winless: Kentucky, Chicagoland, Watkins Glen and Homestead.
A majority of the top drivers in Power Rankings after Pocono carried over their momentum to the high-speed oval of Michigan. Seven of the top 10 on this list also recorded a top-10 finish. Those that were not so fortunate included Matt Kenseth, who finished 14th, as he is still looking for his elusive first victory of the season. The Roush Fenway Racing Fords also continued to struggle, as Carl Edwards finished 23rd, while JGR’s Kyle Busch broke a left-rear hub, resulting in a 41st-place disaster.
Drivers and teams now head across the country this weekend for the first of two road courses. These events can be much like a restrictor plate race (a crapshoot) so it will be interesting to see how our top drivers fare after Sonoma. Until then, follow your favorite and see how he, or she, ranked after Michigan.
How The Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football. Our expert stable of NASCAR writers, both on staff and from other major publications will vote for the Top 20 on a 20-19-18-17… 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first-place driver, 19 for second, and so on. In the end, Mike Mehedin calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and… here you go!
Johnson is basically a shark-in-waiting right now. That’s trouble for everyone else. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
First Place Votes: 9
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Forget the point standings for a second. That all night tweet-up was one of the best things to ever happen in sports. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com
First Place Votes: 1
Trying to be the Ford “Knight in Shining Armor” to ruin Chevy’s championship parade. Here’s the problem: He’s got an army of… umm… Joey Logano while Chevy has him surrounded by eight cars. Chances are it won’t end well. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
Anyone who has been involved in a love/hate relationship with a significant other understands exactly how Kevin Harvick feels about his crew. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
Gordon felt like he was much better than a sixth-place run on Sunday, but the bright side is he scored his fourth consecutive top-10 finish. He has a good chance to get his second win of the season at Sonoma, a track where he has five wins. Justin Tucker, Frontstretch.com
If anyone didn’t believe Kyle Larson was the real deal before Michigan, and still doesn’t believe he is after watching his performance Sunday… I don’t know what else this kid has to do. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com
Joey Logano doesn’t need a thermometer to be confident that the summer will be hot for him and his No. 22 team. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
“We just don’t have it.” That is not what I want to hear from a supposed championship contender. Jim Noble, ESPN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/PRN
The No. 18 team has a win in Fontana. And… that’s about it. Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com
Ok, I’m becoming a believer. Menard now has the only two top-5 finishes for Richard Childress Racing this season. With the way he’s running, he might not even need a win to make his first Chase appearance. Although… I do feel like this guy is on the brink of one. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com
The return of the old Tony temper is a good sign for Smoke fans because that means he thinks he can win again. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com
There are far worse things going on at Roush right now than his contract situation. Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com
So much for the momentum of two straight top-5 finishes. Hamlin was basically non-existent at Michigan, finishing 29th. Justin Tucker, Frontstretch.com
Big weekend ahead for Bowyer, who’s had too much inconsistency to feel safe in the Chase without a win. Sonoma offers him a great chance. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
He should be higher in the Power Rankings but dang-it, I just keep forgetting Ryan is still racing. Jim Noble, ESPN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/PRN
Others Receiving Votes: Jamie McMurray (53), Kurt Busch (47), Kasey Kahne (42), Greg Biffle (33), Austin Dillon (16), Brian Vickers (6), Justin Allgaier (5), Martin Truex Jr. (3), AJ Allmendinger (3), Juan Pablo Montoya (2), Marcos Ambrose (2), Aric Almirola (2), Danica Patrick (1), Michael Annett (1)
Participants: Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com; Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com; Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com; Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com; Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com; Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com; Jim Noble, ESPN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/PRN; Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports; Justin Tucker, Frontstretch.com; Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com.