Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2015 Myafibrisk.com 400 at Chicagoland

One race into the Chase and fists are already flying. The incident between Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson might have been unintentional, but the results could take Harvick out of Chase contention after the first round… unless he wins within the next two weeks, of course. Then will all be forgiven?

Denny Hamlin made the “spin-and-win” famous once again after bringing out the first caution. Although he didn’t lead a large number of laps (nine), pit strategy during a late-race caution gave him the track position he needed. A stout restart put Hamlin in clean air and he was able to pull away from fresh tires to win the race, securing his place in the second round. Chase drivers dominated the race taking eight of the top-10 finishing positions. Kyle Larson and Aric Almirola spoiled the party finishing seventh and 10th, respectively.

Drivers outside the top 12 after race 1:
Jamie McMurray
Paul Menard
Clint Bowyer
Kevin Harvick

Next up is the flat, but fast, New Hampshire Motor Speedway. We’re sure to see more sparks, and perhaps fists, fly. But before drivers take to the track, see if your favorite made the top 15 in this week’s Power Rankings.

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



                                                     Denny Hamlin
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Denny Hamlin credit NASCAR

A win at Chicago automatically advances Hamlin to the next Chase round and if it weren’t for the torn ACL he could tee it up and play 18 for the next two weekends. He gambled on worn tires to win, but take note that it was his fifth consecutive finish of sixth or betterMike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway

First Place Votes: 3




                                                     Matt Kenseth

2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Matt Kenseth credit NASCAR

Quite simply, Mr. Kenseth got lucky. His car was out to lunch for most of the race, yet he brought it home with a top five. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch

First Place Votes: 2




                                                     Carl Edwards
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Carl Edwards credit NASCAR

Edwards took that late-season momentum and parlayed it into a runner-up finish to JGR teammate Hamlin at Chicago. In the first half of the season, you couldn’t find him around the top 10 and now he is – as expected – a legit contender in the Chase. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway




                                                     Joey Logano
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Joey Logano credit NASCAR

It was a good afternoon for Logano. He recorded a solid finish and was not in Harvick’s cross-hairs for once… despite Johnson’s best efforts to drag him there. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch

First Place Votes: 1




                                                     Kyle Busch
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Kyle Busch credit NASCAR

Kyle and brother Kurt seemed like the drivers to beat through the early stages on Sunday, but the younger brother faded back to ninth over the final run. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch




                                                    Kurt Busch
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Kurt Busch credit NASCAR

It appeared the field had returned to Fontana in the Chase opener, as the elder Busch brother surrendered the lead following a late-race caution. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch 




                                                     Brad Keselowski
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Brad Keselowski credit NASCAR

Keselowski is flying under the radar since he has not found his way to Victory Lane since California in March. But keep an eye for the former champ. He finished eighth at Chicago for his 10th consecutive top-10 finish. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway 




                                                     Ryan Newman
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Ryan Newman credit NASCAR

Newman’s car is as loud as any competitor, but like last year he quietly snatched another top finish in the Chase. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com




                                                     Kevin Harvick
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Kevin Harvick credit NASCAR

Well, we didn’t even get 300 miles into the Chase before Harvick lost his cool.  Now, he has to buckle down so that he can make up the points necessary to advance. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch




                                                     Jimmie Johnson
2014 NASCAR Media Day - Portraits

If Johnson can survive Kevin Harvick’s bumping throughout the Chase, he may be poised for another championship result. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com




                                                     Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Dale Earnhardt Jr credit NASCAR

Earnhardt Jr. takes legions of fans on every lap. They are ready to roar if Earnhardt runs out front on any final lap in the Chase. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com




                                                    Martin Truex Jr.
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Martin Truex Jr credit NASCAR

Truex seems to have no luck. He was the first driver off pit road with just a few laps to go, and in position to potentially steal a win. What happens?  He slips to 13th. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch




                                                     Jeff Gordon
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Jeff Gordon credit NASCAR

Despite a strong afternoon where he led more laps than any other non-restrictor plate race combined this season, Gordon still finds himself on the edge of elimination. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch




                                                      Aric Almirola
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Aric Almirola credit NASCAR

Top-10 finish at Chicago was one year too late for the No. 43 team after a blown engine ruined its chances of a solid finish and Chase advancement in 2015. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch




                                                      Jamie McMurray
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Jamie McMurray credit NASCAR

Subpar performance from McMurray in his Chase debut, as he ultimately ended the day in 16th. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch


Others Receiving Votes: Kyle Larson (36), Paul Menard (27), Clint Bowyer (22), David Ragan (10), Austin Dillon (4), Casey Mears (3), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (3)

About the author

Mike starts his second year with the Frontstretch in 2014 working on a combination of promotional and marketing assignments. Managing the NASCAR Power Rankings (Wednesdays), he works with broadcast and writing experts from throughout the world of racing to produce the biggest national weekly poll on Sprint Cup competition. Also our resident Marketing Assistant, Mike handles day-to-day client responsibilities while settling into his new digs outside of Charlotte.

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