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 left Charlotte with a narrow points lead over Jimmie Johnson, and that’s about all he needs to do over the next five weeks to once again become the NSCS champion.
Matt Kenseth is the defending winner of the Camping World RV Sales 500.
2. Jimmie Johnson- Jimmie Johnson looked like he had the car to beat on Saturday night at Charlotte before he got trumped by a late restart that ultimately decided the outcome of the event.
Johnson’s most recent Talladega win was in the spring of 2011.
3. Kevin Harvick- All it takes for Kevin Harvick to secure his first NSCS championship is one minor blunder from either Matt Kenseth or Jimmie Johnson. I know what you’re thinking easier said than done… Right!
Kevin Harvick’s lone Talladega victory came in the spring of 2010.
4. Kyle Busch- Officially not out of the championship hunt by any stretch of the imagination. Kyle Busch has everything to gain with minimal to lose, but don’t tell that to the guy who was tremendously disappointed with a solid 5th place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Kyle Busch won the 2008 spring race at Talladega.
5. Jeff Gordon- Six time Talladega winner Jeff Gordon stands a pretty good chance of making the most of an excellent opportunity this Sunday, if he can claim a 7th victory down in Alabama. The drive for 5 is still alive.
6. Carl Edwards- Every time Carl Edwards heads to Talladega you know someone is guaranteed to remind him of the wild ride he experienced in the spring of 2009. A win on Sunday won’t aide his championship chances, but it would surely create a pleasant Talladega memory to look back on.
7. Greg Biffle- The Biff’s triple crown dreams may officially come to a rest Sunday at Talladega. Biffle has only 2 career top 5 finishes in 21 career starts at Talladega, but has finished inside the top 10 in 2 of the last 3 races Talladega races.
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – A little over a decade ago Dale Earnhardt Jr. found a way to master Talladega. From the fall of 2001 to his last win at Talladega in the fall of 2004 little E collected five wins and two runner up finishes. Since his last triumph of Talladega nearly ten years ago the leader of junior nation has struggled to capture that same magic. Dale Jr. has only scored 2 top 5 finishes and 2 top 10 finishes since 2005. However a win on Sunday would put all that in the rear view mirror.
9. Kasey Kahne- Expectations were high at the start of the 2013 season for Kasey Kahne and the Farmers Insurance team. Although they failed to live up to those high standards for most of the season expect them to finish up on a high note. Kahne’s second place finish Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, was clearly a step in the right direction.
Kahne has two runner up finishes in 19 career starts at Talladega.
10. Ryan Newman- Ryan Newman’s truly a man of honor because he’s still driving his heart out for SHR with nothing to gain and nothing to lose with five races remaining in the 2013 season.
Newman has only 1 top 10 finish in the last 8 races at Talladega.
11. Brad Keselowski- Although it didn’t happen until October Brad Keselowski found his way back into the winner’s circle on sheer determination. One victory won’t salvage Keselowski’s disaster season, but you can bet it felt pretty sweet.
Keselowski’s first career NSCS victory came at Talladega in the spring of 2009.
12. Clint Bowyer- Clint Bowyer’s hoping lighting can strike for a third time at Talladega because if ever there was a driver in desperate need of a victory it’s CB.
13. Kurt Busch- Of the five remaining races on the 2013 NSCS schedule Talladega presents the best opportunity for Kurt Busch & FRR to reach their ultimate goal and score a big victory.
Kurt’s career best Talladega finish is 3rd on four separate occasions.
14. Joey Logano- What we’ve learned about Joey Logano this season is that he’s a few season away from becoming a legitimate championship contender.
Logano’s career best finish at Talladega is 3rd in the fall of 2009.
15. Denny Hamlin- Welcome back to the top 10 Denny Hamlin. Hamlin’s 9th place finish at Charlotte Saturday night was his first top 10 finish since Pocono in June.
16. Martin Truex Jr. – Officially Martin Truex Jr. is out at MWR with the announcement coming on Monday that the team has decided to scale down from three teams to two in 2014. In a twist of irony MWR salvaged Martin’s career only to tarnish it within a span of four years.
17. Juan Montoya- Totally writing off the notion Juan Montoya still desires to win on an oval before he departs for the Izod Indy car series is completely absurd. Montoya continues to put his best foot forward with five races remaining in the Juan Montoya experiment.
Montoya’s career best finish at Talladega is a 2nd place run in the spring of 2008.
18. Jamie McMurray- Well he didn’t upset the field at Charlotte like,
I predicted. Perhaps Talladega???
McMurray has one Talladega victory to his credit coming in the fall of 2009.
19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Once Ricky Stenhouse Jr. develops as a consistent driver on the NSCS tour he’s bound to make a run towards the chase. Who knows that leap of faith may come as early as next season!
20. Danica Patrick- Danica’s 20th place run at Charlotte was her third 20th place finish in the last 10 races. It’s nice to see the princess of speed making small strides as her rookie campaign draws to a close.
Topics: Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Danica Patrick, Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Juan Montoya, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ryan Newman