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: 1): It was a nice rebound for Truex after his parking lot accident with Dale Earnhardt Jr. following Kevin Harvick’s spin. It was a wreck we’ve all seen happen in a shopping center parking lot at some point. Two drivers across from each other are backing out of their parking spaces and don’t realize the other is doing the same … and blam.
Fortunately for Truex, his team was able to get the damage fixed on the car. And also fortunately for Truex and his team, the car was really fast before the crash. A two-tire stop late in the race got Truex some track position, but he was quickly passed by Kyle Busch and fell to fifth at the end of the race.
2. Kyle Busch (LW: 4): Sunday was Busch’s first playoff win since he won the 2015 season finale at Homestead. Of course, that win vaulted Busch to his first title.
And in case you’ve forgotten, that Homestead win was the first time Busch won a playoff race as a member of the playoffs. So that New Hampshire victory — in the final fall race at the track — is Busch’s second playoff win ever. How crazy is that?
With the speed that the Toyota teams have, it’s not going to be crazy at all to see Busch add to his playoff victory total this season.
3. Kyle Larson (LW: 5): Larson had nothing for Busch over the final run of the race. The final green-flag run of the race was 23 laps and Busch won by over 2.6 seconds, meaning he gained about a tenth of a second per lap on Larson. In modern NASCAR, that’s a large gap.
4. Brad Keselowski (LW: 7): Keselowski finished fourth on Sunday and weighed in on the topic of protests during the national anthem on Twitter, saying he could get behind wanting to make the world a better place but felt the protests also put down others. We’re not going to dissect his tweet here; just that it’s notable given the lack of prominent Cup Series drivers weighing in on the topic of the protests.
In a reply to another user Monday, Keselowski also said he didn’t get why people flew the Confederate flag at races.
5. Denny Hamlin (LW: 3): Hamlin also waded into the anthem debate in an indirect way Monday evening, posting a video of the national anthem from his pickup basketball game. Unsurprisingly, no one was taking a knee.
Great night of hoops as All-Stars from 2 different leagues squared off. pic.twitter.com/8jXTpHrcIt
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) September 26, 2017
If you want us to stick to sports — it’s impossible to do so, especially given the topic of the hour — Hamlin finished 12th Sunday after a late unscheduled pit stop.
6. Kevin Harvick (LW 2): Harvick’s spin from contact with Austin Dillon was the most dramatic moment of the weekend. Ok, the most dramatic racing moment of the weekend. As Harvick locked his car down in an attempt to keep it off the inside wall the backstretch was filled with smoke and drivers behind him couldn’t see.
To make things worse for Stewart-Haas Racing, the driver that slammed into Harvick was his teammate Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick appeared to hit the wall trying to get past the accident.
7. Matt Kenseth (LW: 10): Kenseth finished third and is sneakily up to sixth in the standings. He’s just a point behind Hamlin in fifth despite not having any bonus points for wins entering the playoffs. At 43 points ahead of 13th place, Kenseth looks like a pretty safe bet to advance to the round of 12.
8. Chase Elliott (LW: 6): Elliott would be right behind Kenseth in seventh if he didn’t have that 15-point penalty for spoiler tape at Chicago. Instead, he’s tied for eighth with Ryan Blaney. Elliott was 11th on Sunday at New Hampshire.
9. Ryan Blaney (LW: 11): Blaney finished ninth after starting fourth. He was 11th at Chicago and 18th at Richmond. If he finishes in the top 20 at Dover it’ll be the first time all season that he’s strung together four-straight top-20 finishes. Kinda crazy, isn’t it?
10. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 9): Johnson was 14th Sunday. It was his 32nd career start at New Hampshire and that finish was his 26th-best. Yes, Johnson has finished in the top 13 on 25 different occasions. He’s probably disappointed that New Hampshire is getting dropped from the playoff schedule.
11. Jamie McMurray (LW: 8): McMurray finished 16th Sunday. After finishing 10th at Chicago, McMurray’s average finish in the playoffs is 13th. His average finish for the season is 13th. He’s 11th in the standings. So what we’re saying is this is all about par for the course.
12. Joey Logano (LW: 12): Logano was outrun by Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez among non-playoff drivers but still finished 10th.
The Lucky Dog: Jones’ roller-coaster season continues. He was sixth.
The DNF: While Kevin Harvick has lots of playoff points to fall back on, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch don’t. They could be in trouble at Dover.
Dropped out: No one
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