Race Weekend Central

The 10: Riders On the Storm

With the start of the Round of 12, the Chase for the Sprint Cup was set to ramp up as NASCAR returned to its home track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Then, as if that drama wasn’t enough, Mother Nature threw in a hurricane.
Having not seen their cars since the beginning of the weekend, the NSCS field strapped in for 500 miles as the first of two races on the day in Sunday’s delayed Bank of America 500 at the 1.5-mile Charlotte oval. With little track time, a clean track and unexpected daytime conditions to deal with, only the best in the series were able to take advantage of the race to soar to the top of the charts.
Enter the six-time champion.
Jimmie Johnson returned to his peak Charlotte form in a convincing win that stamped his ticket to the Round of 8. With the victory, Johnson can sleep easy through the next two weeks, including the wild card round finale at Talladega Superspeedway.
While Johnson is right now the only one who is safe, six of his fellow Chase contenders also exited Charlotte with smiles on their faces after avoiding disaster. The other five, on the other hand, weren’t so lucky, finishing 30th or worse amid a litany of issues that included blown motors and vicious crashes.
The Chase Grid has been blown open with Sunday’s mixed results, but what of our Power Rankings? Have they suffered the same fate?
There’s only one way to find out…

POWER RANKINGS: Bank of America 500 Edition


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“See what happens when you run a mistake-free race and win? Number one in the rankings.” – Doug Turnbull, PRN
“Already in the final eight and with more laps led (363) than anyone else in the Chase thus far. Looks like someone is on the verge of mastering another format… could a seventh championship be six short weeks away?” – Tom Bowles, Frontstretch


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Didn’t have the relative speed he showed at Charlotte in May. Didn’t have major trouble either.” – Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
“He showed good speed again, but the No. 78 team clearly did not have any magic left over from Memorial Day weekend” – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch

3. KYLE BUSCH (73 POINTS, No Change)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Got slapped with FOUR pit road penalties AND got caught up in The Big One and STILL managed to finish in the top 10. That’s how you win titles, folks.” – Pete McCole, AutoRacing1

“Crashed, incurred every penalty on pit road and still salvaged a top 10 to keep his Chase hopes looking solid. Sounds more like a race on NASCAR Heat Evolution than real life, but it’s true.” – Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“Still quiet, but solid.  That’s enough here to do great things, so long as something dumb doesn’t happen.” – Phil Allaway, Frontstretch

“Four races into the Chase, and no finish worse than seventh.  Watch out for him down the stretch.” – Gable


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“The sight of a dozen crew members standing around while one guy climbed into the car with a laptop computer might have been the most demoralizing thing this team has seen all season. On top of that, Harvick suddenly went from the second-highest seed to the brink of elimination all in one afternoon.” – McCole

“Kevin Harvick’s stepped up to the plate every time he’s needed to win to advance his way through the Chase. After Sunday’s misfortune, it’s time for another swing.” – Bearden

 6.   MATT KENSETH (45 POINTS, No Change)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“Don’t you think he laughed a little as he drove through the pack twice at Charlotte, while Joey Logano wrecked twice? ” – Turnbull

“Starting to show up at the front at just the right time.” – Spencer


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“If he would have been around at the end of the race, Elliott might have had the only car capable of catching Johnson.” – McCole
“This rookie’s had the feeling of a veteran with his calm, cool and collected attitude throughout the entire year. Let’s see if he can keep that up in the pressure cooker that is the Chase bubble.” – Bearden

8.   JOEY LOGANO (30 POINTS, -3)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“This year at Kansas, he will actually need to wreck someone to win.”- Turnbull
“Won all three races in the Round of 12 last season. It’ll take another win at one of the next two to survive the Round of 12 in 2016.” – Bearden


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“One of five Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas in position to make the final eight. A strange position for Edwards, who may wind up the fifth-best car in the bunch but that’s just not going to be enough to crack the final round.” – Bowles

“Needs a boost in long-run speed. Poles are fine, but they don’t win races.” – Spencer


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Talk about an inopportune time in the race, and the season, to have an engine failure.” – Gable
“Three years between engine failures? Cripes. You want to see engine failures, go look at some of the late 1990s-early 2000s CART races at Michigan or Fontana.  You’ll see more engine failures in one or two races than Hamlin’s had in his own career in Sprint Cup.” – Allaway


Both of these drivers have ran good enough to stay afloat in the Chase so far, though one of the two failed to make the playoff to begin with. Still, both drivers need to run just a tick better to crack The 10.

Kurt Busch (8 Points) – “Quiet, consistent and in a good position to advance. This is starting to feel like Denny Hamlin’s Chase run in 2014.” – Bearden

Kasey Kahne (7 Points) – On a streak as of late and now the “best of the rest” among drivers who didn’t qualify for this year’s Chase. But it still baffles me that a Hendrick Motorsports car has gone all 29 races this season without leading a lap.” – Bowles

Others receiving votes: Kyle Larson (5), Hurricane Matthew (3) Jamie McMurray (2), Ryan Newman/Austin Dillon (1)


Dustin Albino@DustinAlbino
Phil Allaway@Critic84
Aaron Bearden@AaronBearden93
Summer Bedgood@SummerBedgood
Tom Bowles@NASCARBowles
Greg Davis@GregMDavis
Sean Fesko@TheWriterSean
Michael Finley@FinleyFactor
Bryan GableN/A
Tony Lumbis@TonyLumbis
Toni Montgomery@ToniLMontgomery
Kevin Rutherford@surfwax83
Jason Schultz@NASCARJason
Joseph Wolkin@JosephNASCAR
AnnoyingRaceFan @AnnoyingRaceFan I’M @annoyingracefan ON TWITTER (AND INSTAGRAM). PEOPLE CALL ME ARF. I’M A RELATIVE NOBODY.
Brian Eberly@beberly18Writer, Rubbings Racing, Motor Racing Digest
Mike Hembree@MikeHembreeWriter, USA Today
Ben Hinc@lemonlovrOwner, The Apex
Jerry Jordan@kicknthetiresOwner, Kicknthetires.Net
Pete McCole@PeteMcColeNASCAR Writer, AutoRacing1.com
The Orange Cone@TheOrangeConeI am an orange traffic cone.
Kyle Pokrefky@KPokrefkyWriter, The Fourth Turn
Reid Spencer@Reid_SpencerLead Writer, NASCAR Wire Service
Doug Turnbull@DougTurnbullAnnouncer, PRN Live, Atlanta Motor Speedway
Jim Utter@jim_utterNASCAR Editor, Motorsport.com

How they’re made: Following the conclusion of each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, members of a voting panel, including Frontstretch writers, members of accredited media including Motorsport, NASCAR and USA Today, as well as writers from other sites and social media favorites, submit their top 10 drivers for the Power Rankings. The drivers are then given points based off their position, with first place getting 10 points, and each subsequent driver getting one fewer point until the 10th-place driver, who gets a lone point. Points are then tallied, and the rankings are created.

Do you agree with our rankings? Think someone got snubbed, or that one of the top drivers is overrated? Let us know in the comments, and tell others what your top 10 would be.

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