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- Dollar General shoppers rejoice Matt Kenseth’s saving you a bundle this season. Another win equals another online shopping discount. On a more serious note Kenseth knows a thing or two about winning at Dover, the next stop on the 2013 NSCS road to Homestead. Can he make it 3 in a row to start the chase?
Kenseth has finished in the top 5 in 3 of the last 5 Dover races, including a victory in May 2011.
2. Kyle Busch- Well if football is a game of inches, then racing is a sport of mere miles. Because we could easily be talking about Kyle Busch winning the first two races of this year’s chase, if only he had just a few inches or laps however you want to look at it.
Busch is a 2 time Dover winner, both victories coming in the spring races (08, 12)
3. Jimmie Johnson- The five time champion finds himself in unfamiliar territory as he trails two red hot JGR drivers with 8 races remaining in the chase. Let’s see how he handles the pressure down the stretch. Word of advice; don’t pound the nails in his casket just yet.
Jimmie Johnson loves Dover. The five time champion owns 7 victories at the Monster mile.
4. Greg Biffle- Ever the optimist that Greg Biffle. The Biff firmly believes he can pull off the improbable and win this season’s NSCS title following a solid top 5 finish at Loudon.
Biffle is a two time Dover winner, but hasn’t scored a top 5 finish there since 2009.
5. Carl Edwards – I guess Greg Biffle’s optimistic attitude rubbed off on cuz this week. Because Carl Edwards somehow felt invigorated by his 9th place finish at Loudon. Maybe he knows something we don’t eh.
Carl scored his lone Dover victory in the fall of 2007.
6. Jeff Gordon- Lucky number 13 isn’t going down easy folks. Silently Jeff Gordon remains a factor in this 2013 championship battle, and don’t look now but his last two Dover finishes look something like this, finishes of 2nd & 3rd.
7. Ryan Newman- Since SHR made the announcement in July that they would not retain Ryan Newman as part of their driver lineup for 2014; his luck has turned for the better. Wouldn’t you say? In that time frame he won the Brickyard 400, made the chase, and landed a quality ride with RCR. Who knew getting canned could be this rewarding?
If you’re keeping score at home the rocket man is a 3 time Dover winner.
8. Kurt Busch- Kurt will once again channel his inner Ricky Bobby at Talladega in October, as he prepares to run a novelty themed Wonder bread paint scheme similar to the one that appears in the movie Talladega Nights. Shake N Bake!!!
Kurt Busch scored his most recent NSCS victory at Dover in the fall of 2011.
9. Kevin Harvick- For the closer the more things change the more they stay the same. SHR announced this week Jimmy John’s has agreed to follow Harvick to their organization in 2014 committing to sponsorship for 12 races.
10. Martin Truex Jr- Amazing how an error in judgement caused by teammate Clint Bowyer has put Truex Jr’s future in limbo at MWR. NAPA’s decision to sever ties with MWR at the end of 2013 leaves the door wide open for Martin to pursue other employment options. You have to wonder will he stay loyal to MWR?
Truex Jr scored his first career NSCS victory at Dover in June 2007.
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Junior nation keep calm, your driver still has a shot at collecting one title this season. Oh wait, isn’t there a really popular female driver on the tour this season that appears to be a shoe in for most popular driver. Oh well there’s always next year right?
Dale Jr’s one and only Dover victory came back in 2001 following the aftermath of 9/11.
12. Clint Bowyer- Now that the infamous spin incident appears to be behind them, MWR & Clint Bowyer’s focus now turns to the future, including moving forward with primary sponsor 5 Hour Energy.
Clint Bowyer has finished in the top 5 in the last 5 Dover races.
13. Brad Keselowski- All that can be said for Bk’s 2013 is what a difference a year makes.
14. Kasey Kahne- Even though his championship dreams were shattered following an uneventful day at Loudon, Kasey Kahne wants y’all to know he’s not an emotional wreck, he just feels angry.
15. Jamie McMurray- Jamie Mac definitely has the look of a driver primed for big things in 2014.
16. Joey Logano- Dismal start to the chase dashes any hopes Logano had of pulling off the ultimate upset. At least Joey’s teammate Brad Keselowski thought he could win the championship before the start of the chase. Well isn’t that nice.
17. Brian Vickers- Can’t wait to see what these guys can do with a full season under their belt.
18. Jeff Burton – Solid top 10 finish at Loudon is good for team morale as the mayor’s term at RCR comes to a close.
19. Denny Hamlin – Finding your way back to the top is never easy. But Denny Hamlin appears to be on his way to doing just that, if his decent 12 place finish at Loudon is a sign of things to come. Hamlin’s 12th place run at Loudon was his best finish since finishing 8th at Pocono in June.
20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Inching ever so close to claiming the 2013 ROTY title.
Photo courtesy of Zimbio.com