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, Jeff Burton
Paul Menard, Mark Martin
Denny Hamlin jumps five spots from 17th to 12th.
Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards drop two spots each. Paul Menard falls from 18th to unranked.
Kyle Larson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Elliott Sadler, Danny Tepper
1. Jimmie Johnson
Last week I referenced Ric Flair when writing about Six-Time. This week I will quote him. "Whether you like or don't like it, you better learn to love it, 'cause it's the best thing going today. Wooo!"
2. Matt Kenseth
Bounced back from Phoenix and had the best car on the track most of the day. All he did this year was totally ruin the "cut the guy some slack while he moves to a new team" curve for all future free agents.
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
No, he didn't win. But he outscored everyone -- including Johnson and Kenseth -- over the last five races. Any 88 fans who won't allow themselves to see the huge steps he's taken this year need therapy.
4. Kevin Harvick
No matter what happens in his career at Stewart-Haas Racing, the sport should always be grateful for how he handled the most impossible of new job situations with RCR in 2001.
5. Kyle Busch
Step one for Shrub to overcome his career Chase bugaboos was to have a solid postseason like this one. Step two will be contending for the Cup into the final weekend.
6. Joey Logano
Speaking of getting over the hump, how about the Artist Formerly Known As Sliced Bread? He made the Chase and then posted five top-10s in 10 races. One year ago we thought his career might be toast.
7. Jeff Gordon
Throughout 2013 he had stretches when he looked so great and others when he looked awful. Still, his sixth-place points finish was his highest in four years.
8. Brad Keselowski
During the Chase, he looked a lot like the Bad Brad of 2012. Unfortunately, the Bad Brad of 2013 wasn't in the Chase.
9. Clint Bowyer
He might spend his entire offseason immersed in a barrel full of amber liquids.
10. Kurt Busch
Let's all take a moment and appreciate a man who got into the Chase and finished 10th in points driving a used car with a pit crew that may or may not have been made up of mattress factory employees.
11. Ryan Newman
Of all the big 2014 driver moves, Newman to RCR intrigues me most. That car has accomplished a lot. His normal "one win, make the Chase and finish double-digits in points" won't cut it.
12. Denny Hamlin
His Homestead win was like grabbing a bottle of Windex and a giant sponge and erasing the nightmare marker board that was his 2013 season.
13. Greg Biffle
For those who think Austin Dillon's Truck and Nationwide Series titles mean he is predestined to one day be a Cup champion, The Biff would like to remind you about his career.
14. Kasey Kahne
In the end, most of his seasons seem to end with similar results -- two wins and 12th in points -- no matter what team he's driving for. Is it fair to ask if we'll ever see him put together a complete season?
15. Martin Truex Jr.
In case you were wondering, had he made the Chase, he would've finished inside the top 10 in points. But only if Jeff Gordon had been left out and if ... oh, never mind ... this is giving me a migraine.
16. Carl Edwards
After its win at Richmond, did the 99 team plane take off from Virginia and fly straight off the coast and into the Bermuda Triangle?
17. Jamie McMurray
Jamie Mac's big battle with Keselowski for First Guy Outside The Chase fizzled, but over the final 10 races he still managed to outpoint three Chasers.
18. Aric Almirola
The King's apprentice stumbled down the homestretch but still put together his best Cup season by finishing 18th in points and scoring six top-10s, doubling his career total.
19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
I like to envision him putting his Rookie of the Year trophy on the kitchen table at home, just to gloat.
20. Jeff Burton
The Mayor takes this spot because I'm only allowed one driver per rank. But if I could, I'd cram Burton, Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte and Ken Schrader all in here. Thanks for the memories, boys.