Each week of the Sprint Cup season, ESPN The Magazine's Ryan McGee ranks the top 20 drivers in the series. 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.
Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson jump four spots each.
Denny Hamlin falls six spots from 10th to 16th.
New This Week
Brian Vickers, AJ Allmendinger
Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr.
Jamie McMurray, Ty Dillon, Tim Richmond
1. Jeff Gordon
Last week I wrote a story in which Gordon said (1) he'd been working on restarts, (2) he'd embraced his legacy, (3) he enjoys wins more now because it's with his family. A few days later it all happened at once!
2. Brad Keselowski
A pit road kiss from his buddy Kyle Busch bent his bumper and fouled up his day, but he still finished 12th. Yes, I know they aren't buddies. I need a sarcasm font. Finished second at Pocono in June.
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Shameless plug alert! I have a piece with Junior and Rick Hendrick running on Sunday's ESPN "NASCAR Countdown." They tell great stories. I sit there and grin like a guy happy to be there. Because I am.
4. Matt Kenseth
The good news? He's having a classic Kenseth-like year, cranking out top-10s and hanging out in the top five in points. The bad news? That isn't likely to win a championship in the new Chase format.
5. Jimmie Johnson
A rare meh day at Indy for Six-Time. In fact, that's his fourth consecutive double-digit finish. The last time that happened was in the four races leading into the 2013 Chase. That seemed to work out, didn't it?
6. Joey Logano
Had a top-5 car at Loudon but got wrecked. Had a top-5 car at Pocono in June and blew an engine. Had a top-5 car at Indy and ... finished in the top five! My point: When he finishes, he finishes well.
7. Kyle Busch
In 10 career Brickyard starts, he's finished outside the top 10 only twice. He's gotta win one of these things one day. He just needs Hendrick Motorsports to take a year off.
8. Carl Edwards
People were really raising a lot of ruckus saying Cuz looked irritated having to answer questions about leaving Roush on a race morning. But he knew it was coming. I thought he looked relieved.
9. Ryan Newman
Newman looks like a nice stealth add to your Pocono fantasy lineup. His win came a decade ago, but he's racked up six top-10s in the past seven starts and hasn't finished outside the top 15 since June '08.
10. Kevin Harvick
If you've still got some Harvick starts left to burn on your fantasy team, don't use one this week. Save it for that Richmond-Chicagoland combination in September.
11. Kasey Kahne
The Kahne-iacs keep killing me because he isn't ranked higher. But he has no wins, he's ranked 14th in points and continues to show an inability to close. Be happy I have him as high as I do.
12. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer finished 16th at Indy, but his improvement over summer has been quietly impressive. He has eight top-10s this year. It took him 13 races to get the first four but only six races to get the last four.
13. Kyle Larson
Guess who owns a perfect record of one top-5 in one career Pocono start? This guy.
14. Austin Dillon
Guess who's scored two top-10s in the past three races and would be in the Chase if it started today? This guy.
15. Greg Biffle
Guess who just finally became the No. 1 driver at Roush Fenway Racing? This guy.
16. Denny Hamlin
Guess who will be crawling around inside his car every weekend to make sure his firewalls don't have any trickeration all over them? This guy.
17. Paul Menard
Guess who wants to pull off his sideburns and choke Juan Pablo Montoya with them? This guy.
18. Tony Stewart
We're all still waiting on the "Smoke heats up in the summer" rule to kick in. You know, it's July and I had to wear a jacket one morning this week. Maybe the problem is this polar vortex thing.
19. Brian Vickers
In June I asked BV if drivers had tracks circled as "We can win there and make the Chase." He said no, but then admitted yes. I doubt he has Pocono circled, but Michigan, Bristol and Atlanta surely are.
20. AJ Allmendinger
Over the next two races you're going to hear a lot about Marcos Ambrose's chances to make the Chase on the Pocono "roval" and the Watkins Glen road course. But don't forget about ... you got it, this guy.