Each week, I will rank the top 20 drivers based on overall performance during that week’s race combined with their position in the overall standings. Consideration will also be given to driver’s who demonstrate consistency over an extended period of time during the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup series season.
1 Jimmie Johnson – Stayed out of trouble at Sonoma, and wound up 9th in the final running order. Note to his fellow competitors- This is how you win championships!
Johnson started on pole at Kentucky in 2012, finishing 6th
2. Carl Edwards – Cousin Carl continues to find ways to finish up front in races he’s not suppose to be near the front. Edwards finished Sunday’s race 3rd tying a career best at Sonoma (2011)
Carl will once again run the UPS paint scheme at Kentucky.
3. Clint Bowyer – Well it wasn’t a victory for Bowyer this year in wine country, but silver lining his teammate won the race making back to back wins at Sonoma for MWR.
Clint will need all the 5 hour energy he can consume if he plans on running well at Kentucky. In two Kentucky starts Clint has a DNF & a 16th place finish.
4. Kevin Harvick – Consistency is the name of the game for the closer recently. Although it wasn’t a stroke of genius Harvick rolled off his 6th consecutive 10 top finish. Lame duck me ? Naw !
5. Greg Biffle – Quietly the Biff is setting himself up for a run at history. Winning the 2013 NASCAR Sprint cup series championship would earn the Vancouver, WA native that honorable distinction.
Biffle has finished 21st previously in both Kentucky races.
6. Matt Kenseth – It’s widely know Matt Kenseth doesn’t quite fancy road course racing. Despite running near the front for most of the day Kenseth managed to finish the race in Sonoma a modest 19th.
Kenseth has never finished outside the top 10 at Kentucky.
7. Kasey Kahne – Kahne’s 6th place finish at Sonoma feels like a win, thus putting an end to 3 weeks of miserable finishes outside the top 20.
Kasey finished 2nd in last year’s Kentucky race.
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – With the recent announcement of new sponsors of the horizon for the 88 bunch, Dale Jr. continues to build consistency toward a chase birth and ending another winless drought. Junior persevered through the left and right turns of Sonoma to bring the car home a respectable 12th.
Dale Jr. finished 4th in last season’s Kentucky race.
9. Kyle Busch – Busch never found his footing at Sonoma. After running into trouble with Juan Montoya in the early stages of the race it appeared Kyle’s issues were too enormous to overcome on this day. However during the broadcast TNT did run a clip of Kyle’s winning day at Sonoma in 2008.
Kyle won the inaugural Sprint Cup race at Kentucky in 2011.
10. Jeff Gordon – The king of Cali drove his heart out enroute to a spectacular 2nd place finish at a place he knows better than anyone on the circuit. Even at the age of 41 the four time champ still finds ways to dazzle us.
The drive for 5 is alive. Gordon has finished 10th (2011) & 5th (2012) at Kentucky
11. Martin Truex Jr.- Does it really matter it took Martin Truex Jr. nearly six years to capture his 2nd career Sprint Cup series victory? I’m guessing the consensus would be no. How bittersweet it was to see the popular driver of the 56 Napa Toyota back in victory lane.
With the victory at Sonoma Truex Jr. is now 10th in the driver standings.
12. Kurt Busch – Kurt Busch won’t be denied in his quest to find victory lane with Furniture Row Racing. This tandem continues to get better as the weeks go by. Again at Sonoma they over came what seems like the customary weekly obstacle to finish solidly in 4th place.
13. Brad Keselowski – NASCAR should pitch an idea to one of the major television networks for a new reality series entitled Breaking Brad. Despite all the turmoil Brad and the Miller Lite crew have endured, he somehow remains 9th in the championship standings. He is inching ever so closely to that danger zone of falling out of the top 10, and you guessed it. No wins to fall back on in 2013 thus far.
Brad is the defending winner of the Quaker State 400.
14. Tony Stewart – Smoke’s recent string of good fortune came to a halt at Sonoma. If smoke were to be standing in victory lane Saturday night at Kentucky he would cross off another item on his bucket list ( No pun intended since we are heading to Kentucky)
Smoke had no luck in the blue grass state last year finishing a lowly 32nd
15. Joey Logano – Although he narrowly missed a third consecutive top 10 finish at Sonoma, Joey’s 11th place run still demands respect. Joey’s Nationwide series numbers at Kentucky are stellar, however that sharpness has not carried over onto the cup side.
16. Aric Almirola – A few weeks have past since Aric Almirola plunged out of the top 10 in points but heading into the 17th race of the season at Kentucky did anyone predict he would be apart of the chase conversation? Raise your hands. Let’s be honest now.
17. Juan Montoya – We could easily be talking about Juan Montoya’s 3 victories this season, but instead we sympathize with him knowing he should have won 3 races instead of that crazy little thing called bad luck biting him once again.
18. Ryan Newman- Someone let the air out of the rocket man’s jet pack since Pocono. As the summer goes on you bet Ryan will start hearing the where are you going to drive next season questions.
19. Jeff Burton – Sonoma turned out to be the Achilles heel in what was a nice little run of consistency from the mayor since Charlotte. He found his way into the top 10 near the end of the race only to get spun out before the checkers fell. Oh darn we’ll get him next week I guess.
20. Paul Menard – Seems like every time we hit the summer stretch Paul Menard’s name gets thrown around as a potential wild card driver in the race for the chase. Wonder if Paul is starting to get sick of all this premature publicity. He finished a strong 12th last year at Kentucky.