Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Watkins Glen

With the new Chase format, there is such an emphasis on winning, but for AJ Allmendinger, Sunday’s win meant a little bit more. He claimed his first Sprint Cup Series victory, the first for JTG Daugherty Racing and put the “little team that could” into the 2014 Chase. It was a valiant fight to the end with veteran road racer Marcos Ambrose, who was also hoping to race his way into the Chase but fell one position short.

I’m sure a number of drivers leading the Power Rankings are happy that a road course is not in the Chase as only three drivers (Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth) in the Power Rankings top 10 after Pocono finished in the top 10 Sunday afternoon. Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch all finished outside the top 25. While Gordon, Keselowski, Johnson and Busch are all safely locked into the Chase, Newman and Bowyer can ill-afford any more poor finishes if they want to keep their Chase hopes alive.

The high-speed, high-banked oval of Michigan is next on the card as teams look to rebound after a tough week in New York. See if your favorite driver made the grade this week.

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!

Total Votes


2014 NASCAR Cup Dale Earnhardt Jr headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALLDale Earnhardt, Jr.

He might be disappointed with his run, but he pulled off exactly what he needed to do. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com

First Place Votes: 6



2014 NASCAR Cup Jeff Gordon headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALLJeff Gordon

The worst time to miss a “connection” inside the car is when your boss flies up on a Sunday in the midst of a major tragedy. Some rough time in the No. 24 shop this week because the reality is their main competition next month (hint: his number is 48) never seems to make those mistakes. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com



Kevin Harvick's record at Phoenix makes him the odds-on favorite this weekend, having won here just three races ago.

Kevin Harvick

Harvick has conquered a lot this season, but he was nearly failed by bean bags Sunday. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com



2014 NASCAR Cup Joey  Logano headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALLJoey Logano

The forgotten man among the title contenders as of late. Has this year plateaued out or is it simply the calm before the storm? Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com



2014 NASCAR Cup Brad Keselowski headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALLBrad Keselowski

One of the hottest drivers heading into the “off week” but suddenly seems to be skipping a beat. Pre-Chase testing, missing the setups or a little bit of both? Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com




2014 NASCAR Cup Matt Kenseth headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALLMatt Kenseth

Unless something unforeseen happens and there are four different winners over the next four races, Kenseth should make the Chase on points, but he is going to need to find the 2013 winning formula quick or it may not even matter come Chase time. Justin Tucker, Frontstretch.com



2014 NASCAR Cup Jimmie Johnson headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALLJimmie Johnson

The funk continues, but it isn’t like Johnson didn’t run well on Sunday. He was in the hunt for a decent finish until Matt Kenseth got nerfed into him. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com




2014 NASCAR Media Day - PortraitsKyle Larson

Kyle Larson keeps running with the big dogs. It’s only a matter of time before he leads the pack with a win. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com




2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series PortraitsDenny Hamlin

Thank goodness for that win because Hamlin has been non-existent since. Seems like the Gibbs organization across the board is missing something this year. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com




2014 NASCAR Cup Ryan Newman headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALLRyan Newman

Wow, that was some wreck. Newman had a point in his post-wreck interview. I’m still surprised NASCAR and Watkins Glen haven’t taken more steps to improve safety. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com



2014 NASCAR Media Day - PortraitsKyle Busch

M&M’s is the wrong sponsor for this guy. How about a yo-yo company? Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com




Three years ago, Carl Edwards made the choice to stay with Roush Fenway Racing, but this time around, things have changed.

Carl Edwards

Edwards was surprisingly the best on the road courses in 2014 with a win at Sonoma and a fifth-place finish at the Glen. Justin Tucker, Frontstretch.com




2014 NASCAR Cup Kasey Kahne headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALLKasey Kahne

Quietly re-entering the picture for a potential Chase berth on points, assuming that no more new drivers make it to Victory Lane. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com




2014 NASCAR Cup Clint Bowyer headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALLClint Bowyer

Was on a roll and now sits on the edge of not making the Chase. Bowyer will need to step up his game and finish strong over the next few weeks or MWR won’t be represented in the Chase. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com




2014 NASCAR Cup Greg Biffle headshot Credit Getty Images 430 TALLGreg Biffle

Greg Biffle had a top-10 finish at Watkins Glen. He could be the lucky 13th different driver to visit Victory Lane next race in Michigan. Biffle has four wins at Michigan. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com


Others Receiving Votes: AJ Allmendinger (40), Kurt Busch (40), Austin Dillon (34), Marcos Ambrose (16), Jamie McMurray (12), Aric Almirola (9), Casey Mears (7), Brian Vickers (6), Justin Allgaier (2), Paul Menard (2)

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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To say one has “plateaued” is a description of one’s overall performance, which is erroneous in your Logano spot.. It should not include getting taken out of contention towards the end of a race running a couple of times in the top 5. Nor should it include mechanical failure of any kind that impeded a decent finish, as a great finish was almost a certainty if these pesky issues did not occur.


Agree kb, and why does Kenseth have to return to winning form? This new Chase deal can be won without a visit to victory lane!

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