Welcome to Power Rankings. As always, Power Rankings are far from a scientific formula. In fact, it’s the perfect blend of analytics and bias against your favorite driver. Direct all your complaints to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to have some fun.
1. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 2): It’s undeniable that Martin Truex Jr. has been the best driver in 2017. It’s not unbelievable that five of his six wins this season are at 1.5-mile tracks. The basis you need to know is that makes Truex the favorite at Homestead. He hopes you’ll let him show you then that he’s for real.
2. Chase Elliott (LW: 4): Elliott finished second to Truex for the second time in the playoffs. And it’s Elliott’s third second-place finish in four races. The No. 24 team has clearly figured something out — spoiler tape or not — and he’s going to have a super-fast car Sunday at Talladega. It’s just a matter of not getting crashed.
3. Kyle Larson (LW: 3): Larson is second in the points standings thanks to his bonus points entering the round. And he’d have a few more points if Kurt Busch didn’t slide into him in the late laps. The contact caused damage to the left-rear of Larson’s car and he ended up finishing 10th.
4. Kyle Busch (LW: 1): Busch caused three cautions on Sunday, basically creating the opposite instance of that time he got five laps back thanks to cautions at Watkins Glen and finished ninth.
Thankfully Busch said Tuesday at Martinsville that he was feeling good after being overheated in the car during Sunday’s race. The right-side damage sustained in the accidents meant the insulation in Busch’s car wasn’t working properly.
5. Denny Hamlin (LW: 7): Hamlin unveiled a special paint scheme for the Martinsville race on Tuesday and boy, does it not look good with the green trim.
— T.O'C (@MrTeeOhSee) October 10, 2017
Hamlin finished fourth after starting first and should be in good shape heading to Kansas if he can get through Talladega unscathed. That’s a big if for anyone and we’re fascinated to see how teams’ and drivers’ strategies at Talladega will be different now that stage points are awarded.
6. Kevin Harvick (LW: 8): Harvick finished third on Sunday and we could make the case that he should be ahead of Hamlin because he was ahead of him on Sunday. But since the Toyotas are faster than the Fords as a whole and NASCAR is biased for Toyota, Hamlin gets to be in the top five.
One of the things in the first part of that previous sentence is true and one isn’t. We shouldn’t have to explain which is which.
7. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 9): Did Johnson escape a penalty on Sunday or did he simply take advantage of a loophole in the way NASCAR officiates pit stops? Based off NASCAR’s explanation it’s the latter, and crew chief Chad Knaus gets a ton of credit for knowing how NASCAR has been officiating when a car stops to let a changer tighten a lug nut.
That situational awareness is why Knaus is an all-time great crew chief.
8. Jamie McMurray (LW: 10): McMurray finished fifth yet is still eighth in the points standings because of his lack of bonus points. McMurray has proven to be a very capable restrictor plate racer though it would still be an upset if he won on Sunday to advance to the round of eight. While consistent, McMurray hasn’t had top-eight speed in 2017.
9. Brad Keselowski (LW: 5): Keselowski is the best bet of anyone at Talladega and we have a sneaky feeling that Sunday’s race to the finish will involve both Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Speaking of Junior, Keselowski is running a paint scheme to honor the No. 88 JR Motorsports car he drove in the Xfinity Series.
As you can see our car will also carry #cheers2dalejr on the side (Forgot that on 1st post).
Here’s a photo compare- pic.twitter.com/qrnn0uYHdj
— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) October 9, 2017
Keselowski finished 15th at Charlotte.
10. Matt Kenseth (LW: 7): Kenseth was 11th at Charlotte and is ninth in the points standings.
11. Ryan Blaney (LW: 12): Blaney finished eighth at Charlotte and has finished in the top 11 in three of the last five races at Talladega. The other two races involved a blown engine or a crash. Boom or bust.
12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (LW: 11): The defending champion of the spring Talladega race and the winner of the summer Daytona race enters Talladega with his one shot to make the round of eight. If he doesn’t win and get in he’s going to need a lot of help otherwise.
Lucky Dog: Daniel Suarez was once again the top non-playoff finisher.
The DNF: Ryan Newman finished last and only completed 43 laps.
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