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.
AJ Allmendinger jumps from unranked to 15th.
Ryan Newman falls four spots from sixth to 10th.
New This Week
AJ Allmendinger, Brian Vickers
Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart
Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr., Casey Mears, Henry Ford
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
If he still has the points lead heading into the Chase but then doesn't win the championship, whatever the over/under is on tweets I receive calling to bring back the old point system, I'll take the over.
2. Jeff Gordon
If he hadn't had his electrical shutdown, he likely would have been in the mix for the win. That's a great word, if. If I had gone to the gym instead of Taco Bell today, I'd likely feel better as I type this.
3. Joey Logano
A month ago, JoLo was ninth in points and coming off a 40th-place finish. Now he's jumped to fifth, thanks to three straight top-6 finishes. He won this race at Michigan one year ago.
4. Brad Keselowski
Bad Brad's last six finishes at his home speedway have been third, 13th, second, 12th, 12th and third. So this weekend I'll say he finishes second, third, 12th or 13th.
5. Kevin Harvick
Even his top-10 finishes come with quality-control moments that leave you shaking your head. A sandbag? Really? Was someone putting together a sandbox in the backseat for Keelan?
6. Matt Kenseth
Wait. He finished ninth? At Watkins Glen? I wouldn't be surprised if he did an AJ Allmendinger-like dance in the garage. Or maybe banged his head to some Metallica.
7. Carl Edwards
After a solid run at The Glen, I would normally be screaming for you to field him in your Michigan fantasy lineup. But after Roush Fenway's abysmal June effort, I'm not so sure.
8. Kyle Larson
You know who is more surprised than any of us about Kyle Larson's fourth-place finish at Watkins Glen? Kyle Larson. He finished eighth in his lone career Michigan start earlier this summer.
9. Jimmie Johnson
Over the past five races he has ranked 37th in points scored, just behind Alex Bowman, Reed Sorenson, Cole Whitt and Michael McDowell. And McDowell missed two races. Yeesh.
10. Ryan Newman
To anyone who thinks that Newman was off base when he said Watkins Glen needs to upgrade its safety measures, consider this: Armco barriers were implemented by F1 in 1971. Newman was born in '77.
11. Clint Bowyer
Other drivers keep winning, which means the chasm beneath the feet of the last winless guy hanging off the bottom rung of the "Currently In The Chase" ladder is growing deeper. By the way, that's Bowyer.
12. Kasey Kahne
And by the way, the second guy in the pile of non-Chasers at the bottom of that chasm would be this guy, trailing this next guy ...
13. Greg Biffle
Between the National Guard and now 3M, how many times do you think Biffle has and will accidentally walk into a Hendrick Motorsports garage stall at the racetrack?
14. Kyle Busch
He posted back-to-back runner-up finishes and moved all the way up to sixth in points. Then he posted back-to-back 40-something finishes and has fallen to 15th. He finished 41st at Michigan in June.
15. AJ Allmendinger
It's always been so weird to me when someone wins for the first time and then acts like it's no big deal. We didn't have that problem with the Dinger, did we?
16. Denny Hamlin
It's so weird looking at the point standings and seeing that the 20th-, 22nd-, 23rd- and 24th-place guys all have wins. If you're scoring at home, that's Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Allmendinger.
17. Austin Dillon
Another top-16 finish, another week sitting inside the top 15 in points but just outside the Chase cutoff. He finished 30th at Michigan in June. If that happens again, it would likely sink his Chase chances.
18. Marcos Ambrose
I feel like a jerk for dropping the guy after he nearly won. But the fact of the matter is he didn't. And it's a matter of fact that he has still never won on an oval, though he has three top-10s in his past five Michigan starts.
19. Kurt Busch
Is this team finally hitting a little bit of a stride just in time for the postseason? We'll know after this weekend. Busch does have two Michigan wins but only three top-10s in the 13 races since his most recent victory.
20. Brian Vickers
The Sheriff noses out Jamie McMurray and Aric Almirola for the final spot. Why? Because he has something they don't: a win at Michigan.