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- Good news- The five time NSCS champion finished 9th for a second consecutive week and remains atop the NSCS point standings. Bad news- Jimmie’s still moaning and groaning about NASCAR not penalizing fellow competitors for what he deems to be unfair advantages on restarts. Hey man no fair! Please! shut up and drive.
Jimmie Johnson returns to Daytona this weekend looking to sweep both races at the famous track for the first time in his career.
2. Clint Bowyer- Despite the fact Clint Bowyer has yet to visit victory lane in 2013,he continues demonstrate adequate consistency as he marches closer to the top of the standings.
Bowyer’s career best at Daytona is a pair of 4th place finishes in the Daytona 500 (09,10)
3. Matt Kenseth – Dream season continues for the man known as the silent assassin. Kenseth’s season high 4th win of the season at Kentucky has the 20 bunch thinking championship.
Kenseth led 86 laps in the season opening Daytona 500. Kenseth a 2 time Daytona 500 winner has never won the July race. He finished 2nd in the 2011 July Daytona race.
4. Kevin Harvick – Doing everything in his power to win a championship for RCR before exiting for Stewart- Haas in 2014. Harvick’s 10th place finish at Kentucky was his 7th top 10 finish in a row. Talk about making a statement.
Harvick last won the Daytona July event in 2010.
5. Carl Edwards – Edwards would probably rather not run the UPS paint scheme any longer. Seeing he has yet to deliver a victory when dawning the brown and yellow. Carl finished 21st on Sunday afternoon in Kentucky leading 35 laps in the early portion of the event.
Edwards has a pair of 2nd place finishes at the world center of racing, One coming in the 500 (2011) and the other in the July event back in 2008.
6. Kyle Busch – Solid 5th place finish for Kyle Busch at Kentucky, as he holds serve in 7th overall in the driver standings with 9 races to go before the chase cut off.
Kyle won the Daytona July race back in 2008 albeit marred by controversy.
7. Greg Biffle – Wrecks are gut wrenching especially when you can’t avoid’ em. The Biff fell victim to incidental contact on track with Brad Keselowski Sunday afternoon at Kentucky, thus killing his recent wave of momentum. Don’t worry Biff it wasn’t your fault.
Greg scored his first career NSCS win at this event 10 years ago. Saturday’s race could be like déjà vu all over again for Biffle.
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Dale Jr. would love nothing better than to channel his inner Dale Earnhardt Sr. on Saturday night at Daytona, and win his first Daytona July race since that emotional 2001 victory.
Dale Jr. has 2 second place finishes in his last 3 trips to Daytona.
9. Jeff Gordon – You wonder if the song I won’t back down been playing in the 4 time NSCS champions head over the past few weeks, because he’s doing just that. Gordon now sits 12th in the standings dangerously close to that almighty 10th position in points.
Gordon last won the Daytona July race in 2004.
10. Martin Truex Jr. Building a foundation of consistency at the right time. Remember the chase cut off is only 9 races away.
11. Kurt Busch – Kurt’s got a contagious amount of swagger running through his veins over the past month and a half. It’s all too obviously Kurt & FRR believes in one another. Yes we got chemistry!
Saturday night Kurt will make his 26th Daytona start.
12. Kasey Kahne- Kasey Never quite found his mojo at Kentucky finishing 11th in the final running order. Unfortunately Kahne has never been quite fond of Daytona through the years either. Yikes! Things are looking blue for the blue eyed boy.
13. Joey Logano – Don’t you dare feel bad for Joey Logano, because Matt Kenseth is pickin’em up and layin’em down in his old ride. In case you haven’t noticed Joey has found a real good home at Penske Racing. Despite the point’s reduction fiasco at Texas, Joey finds himself 10th in the overall driver standings.
Logano has 3 top 10 finishes in his last 4 Daytona starts.
14. Aric Almirola- If you’re looking for a feel good story in 2013, sit back and admire the job Aric Almirola has done behind the wheel of the #43 car this season.
15. Tony Stewart – Wow! Smoke’s Dover victory feels like it was months ago rather than mere weeks ago. Once again he slips back to 16th in the points after a mediocre 20th place run at Kentucky. Luckily for all you Stewart fans out there, Tony has 4 career July Daytona victories to his credit.
16. Brad Keselowski- Four weeks of bum luck has the defending series champion hurting as the chase cut-off race vastly approaches.
17. Jamie McMurray- The Jamie Mac attack is back! A Solid runner up finish at Kentucky lands Jamie mac back into the top 5 for the first time since Bristol in August of 2011.
McMurray won the Daytona July race in 2007.
18. Ryan Newman- Stewart- Haas Racing’s most consistent driver made headlines off the track this week, when Richard Childress publicly stated the rocket man is at the top of his list to fill the vacant seat of the #29 car for the 2014 season.
Newman’s last two trips to Daytona have resulted in a pair of 5th place finishes.
19. Jeff Burton- The mayor turned 46 last week and apparently is a happy man.
Burton won the 2000 Daytona July race & finished 2nd in this event last season.
20. Marcos Ambrose – You know he’s counting down the weeks until the NSCS returns to Watkins Glen.