Sunday, June 9, 2013
Updated: June 10, 12:34 PM ET
Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Michigan
By Ryan McGee
ESPN The Magazine
Each week of the Sprint Cup season, ESPN The Magazine's Ryan McGee ranks the top 20 drivers in the series. Last week's rankings are in parentheses, as are the top-10s.
Don't agree with McGee's list? Let him -- and the rest of the world -- know in the conversation section at the bottom of the page. But remember, make your mama proud.
New this week
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Greg Biffle and Joey Logano jump four spots each.
Martin Truex Jr. falls four spots from 11th to 15th.
Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Chase Elliott, Jocko Maggiacomo
No. 1. Jimmie Johnson
He led 128 laps and posted a driver rating of 148.1, just shy of the 160 and 150 maximums. So, yeah, it was a beatdown. He has now won three or more times at 12 different tracks. That's good.
No. 2. Kevin Harvick
Happy has five top-10s over the past six races, including a couple of wins. In a related note, I had one of those Bud Light Lime-a-Ritas. OK, it was more than one.
No. 3. Kyle Busch
Yes, he's ranked seventh in points. But if we were picking guys on the playground, wouldn't you want him on your team? He won at Michigan in 2011, but has just a pair of top-10s over his past six MIS starts.
No. 4. Carl Edwards
Cuz said that, yes, he's second in points, but added, "If the Chase started today, we'd be in trouble." Michigan might help, where he has a pair of wins and 13 top-10s in 17 tries.
No. 5. Matt Kenseth
In this space last week I wrote that Toyota had 17 engine failures in '13. I've since been told that only six of those were TRD engines. That's true. But those others did still have a Toyota logo on the hood, right?
No. 6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Very quietly, Little E has gotten his season back in gear, with three top-10s over the past four races and his first top-5 in nine races. A reminder: Michigan has been pretty good to him.
No. 7. Clint Bowyer
On paper he should be ranked higher than this. But that same paper tells me that, unlike our top five guys, he has yet to win a race. Owns six Michigan top-10s, including a current streak of four straight.
No. 8. Kasey Kahne
A Dover spin. A Pocono vibration. We've officially entered the annual "What's wrong with Kahne?" segment of the season. You never know when it will pop up, but it always does.
No. 9. Brad Keselowski
Finishing 16th isn't a great day by any means. But look on the bright side, fellas. You didn't fail postrace inspection!
No. 10. Jeff Gordon
The artist formerly known as DuPont has re-upped to sponsor the 24 car through 2016. Remember when Gordon used to say he wasn't going to race past the age of 40? Yeah, right.
No. 11. Kurt Busch
With his seventh-place finish, he has now matched his top-10 tally for the entirety of 2012. Can he will (or wheel) this team to a win or two, or has he maxed out its potential?
No. 12. Tony Stewart
As big of a deal as the Dover win was, Smoke fans should be much more excited about the fact that he has posted three consecutive top-10s. And that he has reinstalled a chip on his shoulder.
No. 13. Greg Biffle
He wasn't able to deliver on his "Yeah, get some!" radio enthusiasm when the final caution put him in position to try to make a run at Johnson, but he did score his first top-5 since Texas.
No. 14. Joey Logano
On Friday, JoLo insisted he isn't worrying about the wild card, that he can still make it into the top 10 via points. After his third straight top-10 he's 26 points -- roughly two-thirds of a race -- out of 10th.
No. 15. Martin Truex Jr.
It took him six races to claw his way from 25th to ninth in points. In the past two races he has fallen from ninth to 17th. It's like watching my daughter try to climb up the playground slide the wrong way.
No. 16. Paul Menard
Menard, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Mark Martin were my Pocono sleeper picks. Apparently all three actually fell asleep.
No. 17. Aric Almirola
Jim Brown was in the 43 pits Sunday. I asked him if he was excited to see Fireball Roberts get into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He totally got my reference to "The Running Man" and started laughing.
No. 18. Denny Hamlin
Finishing eighth at Pocono isn't going to get it done and Hambone knows it. He's now 76 points out of 20th. Even worse, a few of the five guys he needs to leapfrog are picking up steam.
No. 19. Ryan Newman
Rocket Man posted his third top-10 in four races, but he'll need wins to get into the Chase. After seven generic years at Michigan, he's back on track with three top-10s over the past four races.
No. 20. Juan Pablo Montoya
This just in: That move in the Tunnel Turn has never worked. Like ever. Bonus points for his Friday media center visit, one of the best press conferences of the year.