Commentary

Power Rankings: Texas

Updated: October 28, 2013, 1:19 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. 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

Jeff Burton, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin

Dropped out

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., David Ragan, Austin Dillon

Biggest mover

Jeff Burton jumps from unranked to 17th.

Biggest loser

Kurt Busch falls five spots from seventh to 12th.

Also considered

Juan Pablo Montoya, Marcos Ambrose, Red Byron

1. Matt Kenseth

He had to fight and claw his way into second, edging Clint Bowyer at the checkers. When we get to Homestead, remember that hard-earned point, as well as the bonus point for leading the most laps.

2. Jimmie Johnson

If he doesn't win his sixth title, he'll look back on Martinsville and Charlotte as the places where he lost it. Owns second-best career Texas finish among all active drivers at 9.1. Who's first? Kenseth with 8.5.

3. Jeff Gordon

Gordon's rookie season was my first year covering the sport, and we're the same age. So as long as he's still winning, I'm not yet old, right? He's not great at Texas, with four top-10s over his past 11 starts.

4. Kyle Busch

The bad news? He led early but faded fast, finishing 15th and drifting back to 36 points behind the leaders. The good news? Guess who won the last time we raced at Texas?

5. Kevin Harvick

It's no secret in the garage that Happy hasn't been, well, happy with RCR's grandson-driven future. But he'd managed to keep a lid on those feelings for so long. It couldn't wait a few more weeks?

6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It's official. He's not going to win the championship. But a win and a top-five points finish, both real possibilities, is light years ahead of where this team was just three years ago.

7. Clint Bowyer

Bowyer's late charge into the top three handed him his first top-5 since Michigan nine weeks ago. At Texas he's either very good -- eight top-10s -- or very generic -- seven finishes of 15th or worse.

8. Greg Biffle

The Biff needs to be glad this is Martinsville '13 and not '53, '63, '73 or even '83. If he'd grabbed a driver by the neck like that back in the day, he would've gotten stabbed with a broken-off 'shine bottle.

9. Carl Edwards

Speaking of old-school, Cuz brought his big chrome bumper to Martinsville, didn't he? In the early laps he hit more cars than my Aunt Louise trying to get out of the Piggly Wiggly parking lot.

10. Jamie McMurray

Over the seven Chase races, Jamie Mac ranks ninth in points scored, ahead of four Chasers.

11. Brad Keselowski

The Champ's argument against mandated concussion baseline testing is the best evidence I've seen yet as to why these guys need to have their brains checked.

12. Kurt Busch

Got popped hard on Lap 204 and never recovered, finishing 18th. By the way, you need to read last week's ESPN.com story about Busch by my buddy Brant James.

13. Ryan Newman

Kevin Harvick started his Sunday with an apology to Richard Childress Racing for his anti-Dillon tantrum and ended his Sunday with an apology to Newman for a Lap 319 accident that ended the 39's day.

14. Joey Logano

Started sixth, finished 14th, moved up one spot to 11th in points. Not sure what I'm supposed to say here.

15. Martin Truex Jr.

First, I have no idea how he finished 16th. Second, is there someone out there somewhere with a Truex voodoo doll just jamming pins into it day and night?

16. Paul Menard

With three races remaining, the Hardware Man is looking at a 16th- to 17th-place points finish with probably nine top-10s. In other words, he's still Paul Menard.

17. Jeff Burton

The Mayor gutted out an 11th-place finish in a car being held together by duct tape and bailing wire. He's a two-time Texas winner, but the last of his nine TMS top-10s came four years ago.

18. Aric Almirola

His Maurice Petty tribute car was so banged up by race's end that it looked like it might have been the actual No. 41 Plymouth that Chief drove in '62.

19. Kasey Kahne

Got spun on Lap 183 and somehow got his car so stuck in the tiny 10-foot swatch of grass that lines the inside of Turns 1 and 2 that he had to be towed out. And that's the perfect metaphor for his '13 Chase.

20. Denny Hamlin

Just look at Hambone's Martinsville weekend as one big acting-out of the scene when Cole Trickle drills Rowdy Burns' back bumper at Darlington. "Remember me?"

Ryan McGee | email

ESPN The Magazine, NASCAR

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