Commentary

Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Daytona

Updated: July 1, 2013, 12:53 PM ET
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

Jamie McMurray

Dropped out

Paul Menard

Biggest mover

Matt Kenseth jumps five spots from sixth to first.

Biggest losers

Paul Mernard falls from 16th to unranked. Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart drop three spots each.

Also considered

Juan Pablo Montoya, Casey Mears, Darrell Waltrip

No. 1. Matt Kenseth

Forget that he's fifth in points. In the Chase era, the greatest currency is wins, and he now leads the league. Oh, by the way, over the past 10 Daytona races he owns two wins and the best average finish.

No. 2. Jimmie Johnson

So ... about these restarts ...

No. 3. Kevin Harvick

Another week, another top-10 finish. It's not always pretty, but this ain't an essay contest. Only the end result matters. Owns two Daytona wins, one in February and one in July.

No. 4. Kyle Busch

According to NASCAR's loop data, Busch made 24 quality passes. Does that include passing the pace car under caution?

No. 5. Clint Bowyer

Kenseth and Bowyer spent all weekend apologizing in advance for how bad they were going to be when the race finally happened. They finished first and third.

No. 6. Carl Edwards

Every time Johnson opens the door for Cuz to make a big move toward seizing the points lead, Edwards doesn't capitalize. That's not good. No Daytona wins, but eight top-10s in his past 13 Daytona starts.

No. 7. Martin Truex Jr.

One week ago he won at Sonoma. Saturday he celebrated his birthday. Sunday he finished seventh and jumped two spots into eighth in points. That's a pretty nice little week.

No. 8. Kasey Kahne

Finished 11th, still 11th in points. With only one win, he's walking a tougher tightrope than that loon who just skywalked the Grand Canyon.

No. 9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

On Friday I saw a guy at a gas station near the speedway selling "Getting Lucky In Kentucky" T-shirts. I'm going to assume Dale Jr. didn't buy one of those.

No. 10. Greg Biffle

Every time the Biff gets going, he stops getting going. The good news? He has won the July Daytona race. The bad news? It was in 2003 and he hasn't had a top-5 July Daytona finish since.

No. 11. Jeff Gordon

You know it's been a rough year when Four-Time is happily Tweeting about an eighth-place finish. But quietly, he's now just two positions and two points outside of the top 10.

No. 12. Joey Logano

Be honest. If I'd told you that at the start of July one Penske driver would be in the top 10 and the other would be struggling, you wouldn't have guessed this would be the top-10 guy, right? Me neither.

No. 13. Kurt Busch

I've always said that aprons are best used when cooking.

No. 14. Brad Keselowski

A year ago it was a Kentucky win that started the stretch that won BK the title. This year we might look back and say it was Kentucky that cost him his title defense.

No. 15. Tony Stewart

So, had this been 2003 Smoke instead of 2013 Smoke, do you think he would have punched Kyle Petty out?

No. 16. Aric Almirola

If you're looking for a good, cheap sleeper pick for your Daytona fantasy team, this wouldn't be a bad choice.

No. 17. Ryan Newman

The Rocket Man posted just two top-5 finishes over his first 21 Daytona starts. Over the past two he's finished fifth both times.

No. 18. Jamie McMurray

Best line of the weekend: Clint Bowyer said he wasn't surprised McMurray finished second because he was running a Hellmann's paint scheme and "everything's better with mayonnaise on it."

No. 19. Marcos Ambrose

It appeared he might have a car capable of posting back-to-back top-10s. Don't expect much this weekend. In nine Daytona starts, his only top-10 came in his second try. He's finished no higher than 13th since.

No. 20. Jeff Burton

Bobby Labonte's consecutive-starts streak ended this weekend at 704, third all time. The new active second-place guy behind Gordon's 706 is now The Mayor, at 609 and counting.

Ryan McGee | email

ESPN The Magazine, NASCAR