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- JJ’s undying persistence paid off at Talladega. Johnson’s 13th place finish to Matt Kenseth’s 20th place run now has the five time champion in prime position to take a serious run at title number 6. Oh…Did I forget to mention Johnson has 8 career victories at Martinsville, and Matt Kenseth has zero. Just putting it out there!
A win for Jimmie Johnson Sunday would make it 3 consecutive wins on the tricky paper clip for the current NSCS point’s leader.
2. Matt Kenseth- Now it’s the silent assassin’s turn to be on the offensive for the first time in the 2013 chase. Don’t panic yet Kenseth fans! He can totally bounce back and win this thing.
In 27 career starts at Martinsville Matt Kenseth has scored only 3 top 5 finishes, with his last coming in the spring of 2012. Good Grief.
3. Kyle Busch- Kyle Busch leaves Talladega virtually tied for 3rd in the overall standings. Busch’s near flawless run in this year’s chase demands maximum respect. He desperately needs to win a race or two in these next 4 races to have a shot at upstaging the class of this year’s chase, Johnson & Kenseth.
Kyle Busch has scored two consecutive top 5 Martinsville finishes heading into this Sunday’s race
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – We saw the Dale Jr. of old return to Talladega, Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately for the junior nation faithful they were subjected to an ending all too familiarly to them in recent years. You guessed it! Dale Jr. came up short once again. GRR!
Dale Jr. has failed to conquer the tricky paper clip track in 27 career starts.
5. Kevin Harvick- If the closer has one once of heroism left inside him for the final 4 races of the season, now would be a great time to let that pony run. I wouldn’t dash his championship hopes just yet, but has the well run dry?
Kevin Harvick has 1 victory in 24 career Martinsville starts.
6. Jeff Gordon- Well the driver for 5 is officially on life support following Talladega. Gordon leaves the state of Alabama 34 markers behind points leader Jimmie Johnson with 4 races to go. Should Jeff Gordon win any of the next 4 races that would be considered a moral victory, considering the highs and lows he’s experienced in 2013.
Jeff Gordon has 7 wins at Martinsville in 41 career starts, his last coming in the fall of 2005.
7. Greg Biffle- Greg Biffle’s 2013 chase can be described in one word – Mediocre. That’s okay the Biff’s teammate Carl Edwards hasn’t done much either. I know it’s no consolation, but you always have to look on the bright side when things aren’t exactly going your way.
Martinsville isn’t exactly Greg Biffle’s favorite track. In 21 career starts he’s never finished inside the top 5 and his best finish is a 7th in the fall of 2007.
8. Ryan Newman- Ryan Newman refuses to lay down his sword despite the fact he really has nothing to gain or lose at this point. Neman rolled off his 4th top 10 finish of the chase at of all places Talladega.
Newman has 1 victory in 23 career starts at Martinsville.
9. Kurt Busch- Kurt Busch is 0-2 driving novelty themed paint schemes inspired by the film Talladega Nights. On the upside I bet Lionel Racing sells a ton of diecast collectables of this particularly model.
Kurt Busch is currently suffering from a Martinsville dry spell, his last top 10 finish there was back in the fall of 2005.
10. Clint Bowyer- Like many of you, I’m still waiting for Clint Bowyer to finally make his way back into the winner’s circle, but let’s face it time’s not on his side. Of the four remaining races left on the 2013 NSCS schedule, Clint has a legitimate chance of winning two of them.
Bowyer has finished inside the top 5 in the last two Martinsville races.
11. Carl Edwards- Carl’s good race/ bad race trend of 2013 seriously killed any chance he ever had of winning a championship this season. And I’m talking before his surprise victory at Richmond in September.
Carl’s best career finish at Martinsville is a 3rd back in the fall of 2008.
12. Martin Truex Jr.- Martin Truex Jr.’s future in the NSCS looks a little less murky, with the announcement coming early last week that the New Jersey native had agreed to a deal with Furniture Row Racing for 2014. He also finished 8th at Talladega on Sunday afternoon.
13. Joey Logano- I think this kid learned a lot about himself this season. We’d be foolish to take him lightly in 2014; the best of Joey Logano is certainly yet to come.
14. Jamie McMurray- Officially Jamie McMurray has mastered the art of the upset.
15. Brad Keselowski- Last week Brad Keselowski made his triumphant return to the winners circle. This week he’s scratching his head trying to figure out how to make his comeback complete.
Brad Keselowski has 4 top 10 finishes in 7 career starts at Martinsville.
16. Kasey Kahne- Poor Kasey Kahne was merely a ghost at Talladega Sunday afternoon.
17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.- Had Sunday’s race gone to a green, white checker finish we could be talking about Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s first career NSCS victory. Stenhouse Jr. scored a career best finish of 3rd at Talladega.
18. Paul Menard- Paul Menard carried the RCR banner Sunday at Talladega by grinding out a respectable 4th place finish, his 3rd top 5 finish of the season.
19. David Ragan- Apparently David Ragan had a little magic left over from his upset victory in the spring race at Talladega. Ragan backed up his victory in the spring with a 6th place finish last Sunday.
20. David Gilliland- One of these days David Gilliland will finish in front of his teammate David Ragan at either Daytona or Talladega, perhaps for the checkered flag. No joke! this guys is a tremendous restrictor plate racer.
Photo courtesy of zimbio.com
Topics: Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, David Gilliland, David Ragan, Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman