Hello out there in FanIQ Land! This article is, as I said in the title, long overdue! We're 8 races into the season, and by now we have an idea of how the rankings SHOULD look. We're going to make it easy for this week, and rank the drivers based on the top 20 in points after 8 races. There are some names that will be noticeably absent from this list, some that are surprisingly low, and some that are a pleasant surprise at the top of the charts. Check below to find out where your favorite driver is ranked this week! But first, this week's dishonorable mention...
This is what happens when you run your mouth. You're stuck on a second-hand team with limited funding and sponsorship, and you find yourself battling just to get a top 15 finish. After 8 races, I think Kurt has gotten a dose of reality. He sits 25th in points with no wins, no top 5s, and only ONE top 10 finish. It's going to be a long year for Kurt.
An honorable mention also goes out to Marcos Ambrose.
He's tied with Aric Almirola for 20th, but Ambrose does not have a top 10 finish whereas Almirola does. Raise your hand if you want to see the bloke win on an oval...I know I do!
20. Aric Almirola:
Aric is in 20th place in the standings after 8 races. He, like Kurt Busch, only has 1 top 10 finish. But he is in the range of the Q's power rankings. He actually jumped 2 spots to 20th, so had this restarted last week, he wouldn't have been on here.
19. Jamie McMurray:
Jamie Mac jumped up 4 spots to 19th from his 23rd points position last week. He's had quite the rough start to the season with just 2 top 10s, and it seems like it just doesn't work for him no matter what he does. Can he string some good finishes together?
18. Jeff Gordon:
No, this is not a misprint. Jeff Gordon has 1 top 5 finish and only 1 other top 10 finish through the first 8 races. Yesterday at Kansas he finished a miserable 21st! What is wrong with Gordon? Are we seeing the decline of the winningest active driver as he runs his 20th full season as a Cup Series driver? Aside from his misfortune at Martinsville, this is by far the worst season he's had since 1993.
17. Jeff Burton:
Here's another one who can't catch a break. Since his excellent run at Daytona, he only has 1 other top 10 finish as well. As a result, the two Jeffs find themselves barely holding on to a spot in the Q's rankings. I, for one, would like Burton to actually have a good finish instead of rolling snake eyes late in the race every week.
16. Juan Pablo Montoya:
It's not pretty, just ONE top 10 finish, but Juan is 16th in the standings, a far cry from blowing up the jet dryer down in Daytona. The million dollar question is will this boy ever win a race on an oval?
15. Brad Keselowski:
It's easy as one-two-three. Brad has a win, 2 top 5s, and 3 top 10s, but it's the misfortunes of the other 5 races that have him stuck 15th in the standings. Can he find that mojo from last year that catapulted him to the top of the charts? That said, if the season ended today he'd make the Chase thanks to that win at Bristol.
14. Paul Menard:
This one is still a surprise. Keselowski and Gordon should be higher up the list, but I'd expect Menard to be well out of the top 20! He has 3 top 10s and for him that's impressive. Can he actually make the Chase?!
13. Kyle Busch:
Shrub is 13th in points with 1 top 5 and 3 top 10s. By now shouldn't he have a couple wins to his credit? This is another surprising spot for a driver you'd expect to be in the top 5 in points. Can you say parity?!
12. Joey Logano:
Joey sits right in front of his teammate in 12th place. He has 2 top 10s and if the season ended right now he'd miss the Chase, and so would Shrub. That's something to think about.
11. Clint Bowyer:
New team, same Clint. He manages to run well enough to have a chance at the Chase, and this year is no exception so far. Michael Waltrip could have 2 drivers in the Chase, because one is further up the charts than anyone has ever expected him to be.
Check page 2 for the top 10.
10. Ryan Newman:
Hello, Newman! He won at Martinsville thanks to what happened between Bowyer and the Hendrick boys at Martinsville. He has one other top 5 finish and 3 top 10s in all. His boss is ahead of him, but you'd kind of expect that.
9. Carl Edwards:
After a dismal start to the season, he's got 5 top 10 finishes. As a result Richie Cunningham has gotten back into the top 10 in points where you'd expect to find him. Is this the year Edwards finally raises the Sprint Cup trophy?
8. Tony Stewart:
Speaking of Smoke, here he is. I still wonder what happened to the real Tony, who never did anything until after Memorial Day, but it's a nice change to see him win some races EARLY in the year. Now that they've figured out the fuel injection glitches (or so it seems), Stewart winning 2 of the first 5 races could be bad for everyone else later in the year!
7. Jimmie Johnson:
Jimmie got the penalty rescinded (although IMHO Chad should still have to sit out a few races with his history of being a bit sleazy), but it is what it is and Jimmie finds himself 7th in points. He's had a lot of strong runs, tied for the most top 10s with 6, but has yet to win a race. The next win for Rick Hendrick is #200, who's gonna get it?
6. Kevin Harvick:
Mister Where-did-he-come-from is having a solid start to the season. He hasn't won yet, but does have 5 top 10 finishes. I expect to see him in victory lane, but he's been leading races early in the going...NO Happy, you're doing it backwards!
5. Denny Hamlin:
Hamlin, along with Smoke, is the other repeat winner so far in 2012. He won yesterday at Kansas and also won earlier this year in Phoenix. He's solidly in the Chase and he's got a darn good crew chief to boot!
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.:
Junior sits 4th in the points, still looking for that win to end the streak. But he does have 3 top 5s and 6 top 10s through the first 8 races. Keep running this well and the wins will start to come back.
3. Matt Kenseth:
Our Daytona 500 champ has 5 top 10 finishes, all of them top 5s. He's quietly rattling off good finishes, and that consistency has always paid dividends for him.
2. Martin Truex Jr.:
No, you're not reading this wrong. Truex is off to the best start of his career, with 3 top 5s and 6 top 10s. He's very close to returning to victory lane for the first time since the Cubs won the World Series. Will he get there?
1. Greg Biffle:
It's about time, Biff! After finishing third and third and third and...well you get the idea, The Biff finally won for the first time this year at Texas. He has been the most consistent driver all season long and now finally has a victory to show for it. Remember, this is the man who's going for history. It's a long way to Homestead in November, but can Biffle become the first man to win the championship in all 3 of NASCAR's top divisions?
This week the drivers head to
Until next time I'm Bryan Kramer for The Blitzburgh Pit Stop saying Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore! Onward to race number 9!
BK over and out