- Ryan McGee, ESPN The Magazine, NASCAR
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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
Kyle Busch jumps five spots from seventh to second.
Greg Biffle falls four spots from eighth to 12th.
Brian Vickers, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola, Fonty Flock
No. 1. Matt Kenseth
He's still never won at Atlanta, but he came back from a lap down to finish 12th. If this had been a few weeks ago he would've stayed a lap down.
No. 2. Kyle Busch
The number crunchers keep telling me that pre-Chase momentum is overrated. Fair enough, but these guys sure do look easy and breezy right now as they hit the postseason with four wins.
No. 3. Jimmie Johnson
In a related note, this guy also has four wins, but for the past three weeks crew chief Chad Knaus' face has looked like his underwear is two sizes too tight.
No. 4. Kevin Harvick
It seems cruel to drop Happy a spot after he moved up a spot in points, but it's only because he doesn't have as many wins as the top three. Then again, who won at Richmond back in May?
No. 5. Joey Logano
Despite a slew of generic pit stops, he still finished second. Throw out hard-luck Daytona and Loudon and he's averaged a sixth-place finish since May. He finished third at Richmond in the spring.
No. 6. Carl Edwards
For the second straight week Cuz had a car that looked like it was going to win. But for the second straight week he found a way not to.
No. 7. Clint Bowyer
I love a man who blows up and then announces on national TV he's going to get a beer. But he's still winless and five of his past seven finishes have been 13th or worse. Finished second at Richmond in May.
No. 8. Kasey Kahne
Between the lingering prerace fireworks cloud, the crop-dusting of speedy dry and Kahne's rolling smoke machine, I was afraid Greenpeace was going to show up and try and shut the race down.
No. 9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
No, he isn't locked into the Chase, but he's close enough that Junior Nation can rest easy heading into Richmond. Sort of.
No. 10. Martin Truex Jr.
Broke his wrist at Bristol and had the cast made with a steering wheel in his hand so he could race. The cast started melting in the cockpit and he still finished third. Stud.
No. 11. Kurt Busch
The last time someone pulled off restarts like that was me playing NASCAR '99 on PlayStation with the damage option turned off.
No. 12. Greg Biffle
It hasn't been the multi-win late summer he might've expected, but The Biff's managed to avoid trouble when his Chase rivals could not. One more night of that and he's in his sixth Chase. Barely.
No. 13. Ryan Newman
There will be plenty of math happening at Richmond, and Newman is really, really good at math. But his Chase formula is simple: If he wins, he's probably in.
No. 14. Jeff Gordon
Postrace, Gordon claimed he's having fun. But have you listened to him on the radio? Not to tell the 24 hauler driver how to do his job, but I'd throw an extra case of antacids on the truck for Richmond.
No. 15. Brad Keselowski
I was not at the Atlanta race, but I have heard that BK's crew had to push the fat lady out of its pit box as she was warming up to sing.
No. 16. Juan Pablo Montoya
Continuing to add to the Too Little Too Late file: Among Montoya's past six finishes are efforts of ninth, fifth, 11th, third and seventh.
No. 17. Jamie McMurray
I am CTL+C'ing this from last week: If Jamie Mac had done anything at all over the past month, he could have made a legit run at the Chase. But alas, he did not, so he has not.
No. 18. Marcos Ambrose
If life was fair, this would have been his fourth straight top-10. Then again, if life was fair, the byline on this piece would read "By Astronaut Ryan McGee."
No. 19. AJ Allmendinger
Next year we'll have The Dinger, Kurt Busch and Brian Vickers back in decent full-time Cup rides. With all due respect to LL Cool J, I'm totally calling it a comeback.
No. 20. Paul Menard
RCR should've brought in Harry Hogge to kick a dent in the last non-damaged panel of all their cars not driven by Harvick. I can totally hear Childress saying, "I don't want you spoiled, Buck."