April 15, 2013

Magic Mile Power Rankings


Week 7 - NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway

Things got rowdy at Texas, and in the end it was Kyle Busch holding off Martin Truex Jr. for the checkers. It was the second win in three weeks for Shrub, who started the race on the pole and led the most laps with 171.

With five straight top-fives, including two wins in his last three starts, Busch has made a steady climb up the MMPR over the last few weeks, but will his latest win be enough to take over the top spot? And how far did Junior fall?

Here's a look at the Magic Mile Power Rankings* heading into Week 8 at Kansas Speedway on April 21:


1. Kyle Busch -  With every top-five finish, the struggles of 2012 are fading further into the mirror for the No. 18. On point for most of the night, Busch was never challenged over the last 10-plus laps, zooming away from the field to his second win of the season and the first of his career at Texas Motor Speedway. There are now only six tracks remaining on the schedule where Busch has yet to park in Victory Lane. Over the last five weeks, Busch has led 435 laps.
Previous ranking: Third, +2
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 4

2. Jimmie Johnson - It was another workmanlike performance for Five-Time, finishing sixth in a race he never led. His 6.383 average running position and 115.5 driver rating through seven races is tops in all of the Cup Series. There's not much else to say here; JJ is just a model of consistency.
Previous ranking: Second, --
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 7

3. Brad Keselowski - It's safe to say that Bad Brad was none too happy following the race on Sunday. Calling NASCAR's "targeting" of the 2 team "absolutely shameful," Keselowski was still able to race to a ninth-place finish on Sunday. We'll see what kind of penalties loom for Keselowski, but it doesn't look like anything can slow down the defending champion, who now has six top-10s through the first seven races.
Previous ranking: First, -2
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 7

4. Greg Biffle - It was no surprise to see the No. 16 Ford crossing the finish line with a top-10 on Saturday night, after all it was his 10th straight at TMS. What was surprising was how he did it, racing all the way from a 35th starting position to secure his third straight top-10. Through the first seven races, the Biff hasn't finished worse than 17th (twice) and he has the second most quality passes on the circuit.
Previous ranking: Seventh, +3
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 2

5. Kasey Kahne - It shows you what kind of season Kahne is having when an 11th-place finish feels like a bad day. Kahne wasn't a factor on Saturday night, but it's what you can make out of a bad day that determines the character of your team.
Previous ranking: Fifth, --
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 4

6. Carl Edwards - If it's possible to finish third quietly than the 99 did just that on Saturday night. Barely a top-20 car midway through the race, Edwards turned it on when it mattered, racing all the way up and into the top five. That certainly says a lot about Edwards as a pilot, but even more about the team as a whole.
Previous ranking: Eighth, +2
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 6

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Bad luck happens. And right now, even the most popular driver in the sport can't escape the wrath of the NASCAR gods. An ill-timed spin at Martinsville two weeks ago and a mental gaffe (he misdiagnosed a battery issue) on pit road this week all of sudden drop Junior not only down the MMPR but the points standings as well.
Previous ranking: Third, -4
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 7

8. Joey Logano - If not for a rough day at Martinsville, Logano could be a top-five contender in the MMPR. After finishing 2012 with just two top-fives, Logano has that feat matched with top-fives in two of his last three races. And much like Keselowski, the rear housing in Logano's car was .confiscated, meaning penalties are likely looming for the 22. It still didn't matter, though, as one of NASCAR's most controversial drivers of 2013 finished fifth.
Previous ranking: Not Ranked, +2
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 1

Matt Kenseth's crew puts out a fire after he exited the pits on
Saturday night. Kenseth finished 12th. (Getty)
9. Matt Kenseth - Back-to-back sub-par weeks have plummeted the Joe Gibbs Racing 20 car. Certain
tracks have a way of breaking drivers out of their funk, though, and Kansas could provide just that for Kenseth, who has a win and eight top-10s in 14 career starts at the 1.5-mile tri-oval.
Previous ranking: Sixth, -3
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 5

10. Paul Menard - The Menardmeister has been teetering for a while now, but still hasn't done enough to climb or descent in the MMPR. Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick are all making a case to break through, but for now Menard gets to claim the final position. But if he can replicate his Kansas finish from October - he finished third - then he won't be going anywhere but up next week.
Previous ranking: Ninth, -1
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 4

Wave Around: Aric Almirola - After a strong start to the season, the 43 has faded over the last three races. But what a rebound in Texas, as Almirola scored his first top-10 of the season with a seventh-place finish.

Dropped out of the MMPR: Jeff Gordon.

*This list is comprised of drivers that compete in the Sprint Cup Series on full-time basis.

Previous Nos. 1
Week 1 - Jimmie Johnson
Week 2 - Jimmie Johnson
Week 3 - Brad Keselowski
Week 4 - Brad Keselowski
Week 5 - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Week 6 - Brad Keselowski

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