Andrew Weber- US PRESSWIRE
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finished the second race of the chase that saw Denny Hamlin going to victory lane for the fifth time this season. From the start of the race it was clear that Hamlin had the car to beat and there was no one even close to keeping up with him through out the entire race. Now the Sprint Cup Series is heading off to Dover where the current points leader Jimmie Johnson won back in the Spring race.
Let’s take a look at this week’s power rankings.
1. Jimmie Johnson– Two race in the chase for Johnson and two second-place finishes has given him a one-point lead with eight races remaining. Hamlin and Brad Keselowski have won the first two races and have gathered all of the attention so far. However, Johnson is right there with those two and he is now heading to one of his tracks in Dover. He was the winner there earlier this year and you can expect the same type of performance out of him this weekend. Last week: 2
2. Brad Keselowski– This was a big weekend for Keselowski as he was heading to one of his worst tracks at New Hampshire. The race didn’t start out well for the Blue Deuce as he dropped back around the 15th position. Throughout the race his car got better and better and he wound up finishing in sixth. This is the type of performance that makes Keselowski a championship contender. Last week: 1
3. Jeff Gordon– Gordon is still hanging on to his slim chase hopes and is now 45 points out of the lead and is in 12th place. After getting the pole, Gordon fell back early but was able to rally back to finish in third. If he wants any chance of a comeback these finally eight races will need to be just like New Hampshire for Gordon. Last week: 4
4. Clint Bowyer– Currently Bowyer is 15 points out of the points lead and is having a chase similar to his regular season. He is just fast enough where he keeps his name in contention, but just slightly off to be mentioned in the same breathe with the likes of Johnson and Hamlin. Last week: 5
5. Denny Hamlin– He came in as the point leader and after a mistake on pit road lost about 12 spots on track to take away a potential top five finish. It was a great rebound for Hamlin that was expected. New Hampshire is one of Hamlin’s best tracks. This weekend at Dover will be a big weekend for Hamlin as he only has an average finish of 20th there. He will need to improve if he wants to stay in contention for the cup. Last week: 9
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.– It’s funny how quickly things can change once the chase starts. Junior was one of the most consistent drivers through the first 26 races, consistently getting top five finishes and even breaking his four-year winless streak. Now he has had two sub-par finishes which has put him behind the eight ball to start off the chase. Last week: 3
7. Tony Stewart– The defending champ is only 10 points out of the lead and just like Hamlin, he needs to have a solid weekend at Dover. Stewart acknowledged last season that Dover would the track that would give his team the biggest challenge and it should be the same way this year. Last week: 8
8. Greg Biffle– The most disappointing driver so far this chase has been Biffle. He was full of confidence heading into the chase and so far he has not had any performances to be confident about. Dover will be the perfect measuring stick for Biffle as the Roush-Fenway cars have been dominant at Dover for the past decade. Last week: 6
9. Matt Kenseth– What was just said about Biffle can also be said about Kenseth. Last week: 7
10. Kasey Kahne– Kahne backed up his win at New Hampshire this summer with a fifth-place finish and has done a nice job in the first two races of staying in contention for the championship. Kahne was a wild-card so he didn’t get the six bonus points he would of had if he was in the top in points, but after to solid finishes Kahne finds himself right in the mix. Last week: 11
11. Martin Truex Jr.– He had the worst performance of all the chase drivers and finished 18th. Truex is a year off from becoming a championship contender, but expect Truex to be a strong contender at the remaining 1.5 mile tracks. Last week: 10
12. Brian Vickers– For the most part part-time drivers don’t have much success in the Sprint Cup Series. Mark Martin has been the recent exception for that and now Vickers has done very well in his limited chances. He has proven that he deserves a full-time ride, but there seems to be no place for him to go. Last week: NR
Follow me on Twitter @KVP_10