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- So a 7th place finish probably wasn’t what Matt Kenseth had hoped for at Dover, but he has won back to back races at Kansas Speedway. Surely you’d be crazy to bet against him to make it 3 in a row.
2. Jimmie Johnson- The 5 time champion is heating up. JJ effortless crafted his way around Dover, last Sunday, now he heads to another track (Kansas Speedway) were he’s finished inside the top 10 in the last 9 events run there. Indeed the plot thickens.
3. Kyle Busch- Rowdy’s first real challenge of this year’s chase comes in the form of Kansas Speedway this weekend, a track where he’s never finished higher than 7th, and that was back in 2006. Should Busch find a way to trump previous hardship in the sunflower state, he may after all be the driver to be in this year’s chase.
4. Jeff Gordon – Whatever you do don’t cast the 4 time champion in the washed up category just yet. From initially missing the chase to creeping into the top 5 in championship points, is in a word incredible.
Jeff Gordon won the first 2 NSCS races ever held at Kansas Speedway (01, 02)
5. Kevin Harvick- Never one to throw in the towel, Harvick finds himself 5th in the driver standings after race number 3 of the chase. Not saying he’s going to win it all, but he’s defiantly in position.
6. Greg Biffle- Biffle’s recent wave of momentum supports what we’ve always known about the Biff. He’s perhaps the sports best driver in the clutch, but can he hang with the top guns down the stretch? That’s imperative if he plans on upsetting the five time champion and JGR’s dynamic duo.
Biffle is a 2 time Kansas winner. Winning in the fall of 07, 10.
7. Ryan Newman- Ryan Newman finished 2nd, 2nd, 1st in his first 3 career starts at Kansas Speedway since then he’s only finished inside the top 10 once. Newman currently sits 7th in the overall standings, now would be an opportune time to change his fortune at Kansas Speedway.
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Dale Jr’s burning with desire to end his current winless streak before it starts becoming the topic of weekly conversation for the media. You get the impression Dale Jr gets awfully agitated when reporters pose the question “junior when are you going to get back into the winner’s circle”? Roll your eyes!
9. Joey Logano- With the championship no longer in play for the #22 team, Joey Logano should just go out there week after week and race hard for wins. A finish inside the top 10 in points would be considered a nice consolation prize. Remember this team is building for the long haul.
Logano has never finished better than 15th in 8 career starts at Kansas Speedway.
10. Clint Bowyer- Just think what a win would do for this guy’s psyche right now. Clint’s cooled off considerably since September. Undoubtedly this season can be considered a disappointment of gargantuan proportion for the 5 Hour Energy team.
Kansas native Bowyer has no wins in 10 Kansas starts.
11. Martin Truex Jr. – Had he qualified for the chase he’d be right in the thick of things. Equally as impressive is how he maintains his composure with his future at MWR hanging in the balance.
Truex Jr. has finished no worse than 2nd in his last 3 Kansas starts.
12. Jamie McMurray- Hands down the best driver not in the chase over the past month. Try not to act so amazed when he steals a couple of wins down the stretch.
Jamie Mac’s best Kansas finish is a pair of sevens (04, 13)
13. Kurt Busch – I guess not all Cinderella stories are destined for a happy ending. It appears as if the Kurt Busch/ FRR magic has completely subsided.
14. Carl Edwards- Honestly can you admit you were naïve enough to drink the Carl Edwards Kool –Aid following his surprise victory at Richmond in September? Come on don’t feel embarrassed we all have a foul taste in our mouths about this one.
15. Kasey Kahne- Not sure exactly when it all came undone for Kasey Kahne this season, but all we know is the Farmers’ Insurance team looks mighty fragile at the moment.
Kahne has scored 2 runner up finishes in the last 4 Kansas races.
16. Brian Vickers- MWR’s future looks mighty bright in the hands of Brian Vickers. Can’t stress enough how vital next season will be for both parties. I have a gut feeling the result may shock the entire motorsports world.
17. Brad Keselowski- Thankfully for BK the season from hell is quickly coming to a close. Scoring a much needed victory to salvage the season appears to be a daunting task at this stage of the game. Fortunately for Keselowski he’s finished in the top 10 in four of the last five Kansas race including a breakthrough victory in June 2011.
18. Jeff Burton- What you, really have to like about the mayor is no matter how bleak his future in the cup series looks, he remains optimistic he’ll race at Daytona in February.
19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – All in all Ricky’s rookie season has exceeded expectations, but don’t count on a sophomore jinx. Yes, he’s that good just give him a little more time.
Stenhouse Jr. finished 11th in his lone Kansas start back in April of this year.
20. Mark Martin- Only 1 top 10 in 6 starts driving for the injured Tony Stewart, obviously not what SHR expected out of Mr. classy when they called upon him to be the super sub.
Mark has one Kansas victory under his belt (October 2005)