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. Matt Kenseth- Kenseth’s 5 wins in 2013 obviously puts him in prime position to capture his 2nd NSCS championship. In other words it’s his championship to lose, or is it???
Kenseth’s scored his lone Richmond victory in the fall of 2002.
2. Kyle Busch- A year removed from experiencing the ultimate heartache of missing 2012’s edition of the chase, Kyle Busch heads into Richmond in 2013 dreaming about winning a championship.
Kyle Busch is a 4 time Richmond winner.
3. Jimmie Johnson- Ol five time once again find himself with his back to the wall, but we’ve seen this movie before. What we don’t know is which Jimmie Johnson will show up once the chase begins.
JJ is a 3 time Richmond winner; his last victory came in the fall of 2008.
4. Joey Logano- Penske Racing’s other driver has a chance to fulfill a date with destiny on Saturday night. All Logano has to do is survive utter chaos at Richmond and he will make the chase for the first time in his young NSCS career. `
Logano finished a career best 3rd at Richmond in the spring of 2013.
5. Kevin Harvick- 2013’s edition of the chase marks the final time the closer will carry the RCR banner ending a 12 years marriage that was supposed to have championship ramifications.
Harvick goes for the season sweep of Richmond Saturday night.
6. Clint Bowyer- Bowyer’s desperately in need of a victory before the chase begins, and Richmond is a track where Clint’s tasted bittersweet victory. You get the picture!
7. Kasey Kahne- Kasey’s guaranteed at least a wild card spot in this year’s chase. However the 5 team’s lack of consistency may cost them a chance at the title. Well there’s always 2014…
8. Carl Edwards- Carl’s limping his way into the chase, but appearances can be deceiving.
Carl has finished in the top 10 in 6 of the last 7 Richmond races.
9. Martin Truex Jr- Driver 56 will have to be on the offensive Saturday night, if he plans on punching his ticket for the chase. Get ready for some closing lap drama!
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Dale Jr’s probably not on anyone’s radar to amaze once he races his way into the chase. But counting him completely out of the title picture just isn’t fair either.
Earnhardt Jr is a 3 time Richmond winner.
11. Kurt Busch- Kurt & the little team that could are fixing to make NASCAR history Saturday night. FRR’s dedication to the Kurt Busch experiment netted them an opportunity to compete for a championship for the first time in the team’s 9 year existence.
12. Jeff Gordon- It feels like Groundhog Day for Jeff Gordon Saturday night at Richmond, as the four time champion will attempt to race his way into the chase for a second consecutive season.
13. Ryan Newman- With a wild card position still in play, the rocket man’s focus solely has to be on making this year’s edition of the chase, and forget about his impending departure from SHR.
14. Greg Biffle- A recent power outage has cost the Biff some serious momentum heading into Richmond, a place where Biff will have to be flawless in order to qualify for the chase. It’s likely a wait and see game for the RFR driver.
15. Brian Vickers- Brian Vickers recent outings driving the #55 dream machine in preparation for the 2014 NSCS campaign have turned out to be a smashing success.
16. Brad Keselowski- The pit fall of 2012 NSCS champion can be described in one word, inexplicable.
17. Marcos Ambrose- A recent surge of good fortune has RPM’s driver poised to re-sign with the king’s team for 2014. Building blocks for the future.
18. Juan Montoya- Montoya’s finishing up his tenure with EGR on a high note, finishing inside the top 10 in 3 of the last 4 races.
19. AJ Allmendinger- Since climbing inside the cockpit of the #47 Toyota the dinger has solidified his position with the JTG Daugherty group. Can’t argue with statistics.
20. Jamie McMurray- Having a great teammate the likes of Jamie Mac surely eases Kyle Larson’s learning curve in NSC competition next season. Until then EGR’s resident veteran can only hope for a win along the way with the chase slightly out of reach.