Commentary

Power Rankings: Charlotte

Updated: October 7, 2013, 11:38 AM 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. 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

Aric Almirola, Marcos Ambrose

Dropped out

Brian Vickers, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Biggest mover

Kurt Busch jumps three spots from 10th to seventh.

Biggest loser

Greg Biffle falls four spots from fourth to eighth.

Also considered

Juan Pablo Montoya, Jim Roper

No. 1. Jimmie Johnson

Drove like a mad man through the field during the race's closing stanza only to have massive mechanical issues. But that happened on the last lap and he still finished sixth. The golden horseshoe returns!

No. 2. Matt Kenseth

You think winning doesn't matter? That's the only thing that kept him from losing his points lead on Sunday, driving a car that ran like it was on ice. Led 112 laps at Charlotte back in May.

No. 3. Kevin Harvick

Had the best car, got jobbed by bad pit timing, then a cool-headed pit call got him back out front and he had the best car again. And guess who won at Charlotte in May? Here comes the Closer, y'all!

No. 4. Jeff Gordon

The Chase's 13th Man is in The Feel, saying, "I really like where this team is right now." He should. The cagey vet has six top-10s in his past seven starts and is hitting his wheelhouse of racetracks.

No. 5. Kyle Busch

Again, I point to Shrub and ask: How tough is this Chase?! He averaged a third-place finish over the first three races and had one bad week out of four. Now he's fifth in points, nearly a full race behind.

No. 6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Little E has posted three consecutive top-10s for the first time since March. He still needs some Talladega magic to get back in the title hunt, but even without it a run at the top five is very possible.

No. 7. Kurt Busch

He had two hugely shocking performances on Sunday. First, he finished second behind Harvick. Second, he managed to have a politely tense postrace discussion with Jeff Gordon without turning into the Hulk.

No. 8. Greg Biffle

On the "Marty & McGee" podcast two weeks ago The Biff said he needed a couple of home runs to get back into the title hunt. All he could muster at Kansas was a bunt single. Finished 31st in May.

No. 9. Joey Logano

Speaking of guys who have quietly turned it around ... don't be shocked if he hauls off and wins at Charlotte this weekend. He won't be.

No. 10. Carl Edwards

Cuz got his first top-5 in five weeks. That top-5 (Richmond win) came five weeks after his last top-5 (fourth at The Glen). So, mark it down. He'll get a top-5 at Phoenix five weeks from now.

No. 11. Ryan Newman

OK ... you can go on and start packing your office for RCR now.

No. 12. Clint Bowyer

Bowyer's generic 14th-place finish dropped him one spot to ninth in the Cup standings, 55 points back. Don't you think each time he falls a little the NASCAR brass let out just one teeny-tiny cheer?

No. 13. Brad Keselowski

Even after this lost season, Roger Penske saw fit to sign Keselowski to a multiyear extension. And after Saturday's Nationwide race, Brad's feud with Kyle Busch also received a multiyear extension.

No. 14. Jamie McMurray

Kansas is where we have historically seen a non-Chaser crash the Chase party with a win, but that didn't happen. Might we see Jamie Mac do those honors at Charlotte?

No. 15. Martin Truex Jr.

So, do we write Truex's woefully bland Chase off to post-controversy depression? Or do we look at these numbers and say maybe he wasn't Chase-worthy after all?

No. 16. Kasey Kahne

His post-Labor Day top-10-less streak is now up to five.

No. 17. Jeff Burton

The good news? The Mayor won at Charlotte just five years ago. The bad news? In the nine CMS races since, he has no top-10s and an average finish of 20.2.

No. 18. Paul Menard

Every week I have that one final-fantasy-team-slot guy who I stare at and stare at, end up not picking, and he finishes in the top 10. This week Menard was that guy.

No. 19. Aric Almirola

And Almirola might be that guy this weekend at Charlotte.

No. 20. Marcos Ambrose

Ambrose spent all day stuck in the pack, even spinning out, but battled up to finish ninth. At one point he yelled "Whoot! Whoot!" to his crew over the radio. That's not a joke. That actually happened.

Ryan McGee | email

ESPN The Magazine, NASCAR

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.