Each week of the Sprint Cup season, ESPN The Magazine's Ryan McGee ranks the top 20 drivers in the series. Don't agree with McGee's list? Let him -- and the rest of the world -- know in the conversation section at the bottom of the page. But remember, make your mama proud.
New this week
Kevin Harvick, Marcos Ambrose, Jamie McMurray, AJ Allmendinger
Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola
Kevin Harvick jumps from unranked to first
Brian Vickers falls seven spots, from 9th to 16th
Casey Mears, Tiger Tom Pistone
1. Kevin Harvick
I've been doing the Power Rankings for six years and never has someone gone from unranked to first. Welcome to the new NASCAR wins-mean-everything math! BTW he won Richmond one year ago.
2. Kyle Busch
Over the last four races, Shrub has three finishes of sixth or better, including a win. Speaking of wins, he's also the leader among active drivers with four Richmond victories and a series-best career average finish of 7.2.
3. Jeff Gordon
The Wonder Boy Time Machine Retro Tour rolls on as he holds onto his first points lead in five years. The last of his two Richmond wins came back in 2000, but last year he scored his 26th(!) career RIR top-10.
4. Matt Kenseth
A decade ago he was very good at Richmond. Then for a decade he was pretty generic at Richmond. Now he's good there again, riding a streak of three top-seven finishes.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
So, this is how it's going to be. He either finishes top three or out of the top 10 completely. His mojo is so back that he even convinced RGIII to show up at Richmond this weekend.
6. Jimmie Johnson
I asked a rival crew chief what was wrong with the 48 this year. He laughed hysterically and said, "They're fifth in points with five top-10s. I wish whatever is 'wrong' with them was wrong with us."
7. Carl Edwards
The last time we went to Richmond, Cuz was the winner, his seventh top 10 over his last eight RIR starts. That's grrrrrrrreat!
8. Joey Logano
Wednesday's "Colbert Report" ripped Louisiana laws banning cock fighting, saying there was no replacement, not even "Chicken NASCAR," with a photo of a bird driving Logano's car. Somewhere Clyde Torkel smiles.
9. Brad Keselowski
BK's stats thus far are similar to his disappointing 2013 title defense, but the win makes it all feel much more positive. Richmond, where he struggled last year, will be a good indicator of where this team is.
10. Tony Stewart
Very quietly, Smoke is coming around. His ninth-place finish at Darlington was a piece of stealthy artwork, and perhaps the final piece of evidence that he's healing up on pace for a fall title push.
11. Greg Biffle
I spent spring break hitting SoCal amusement parks and riding roller coasters. In other words, I experienced what it's like to be The Biff. Expect a dip at Richmond, where he has one top-10 since '06.
12. Clint Bowyer
In sixth grade I was suspended for writing "Miss Dunn Sucks Eggs" on the chalkboard. I'm betting the feeling I had returning to her classroom is similar to how Bowyer will feel returning to Richmond.
13. Kyle Larson
I remember when Jeff Gordon first showed up and the old guard said, "Before we say he's good let's see how he does at Darlington!" By that test, Larson (and Chase Elliott on Friday) officially qualifies as good.
14. Austin Dillon
And, oh by the way, look who finished just three spots behind Larson.
15. Ryan Newman
I'm not sure how Newman has managed to win only one time at Richmond. In 24 starts he has 14 top-10s and six top-four finishes, including a third-place run last September.
16. Brian Vickers
The Sherriff has always been a short track kind of guy, particularly during this remarkable career comeback. But he's managed just three top-10s in 16 Richmond starts, finishing 35th and 24th last year.
17. Denny Hamlin
He was supposed to be a can't-miss at Martinsville and Darlington, but missed at both. If he struggles on his home track, where he's led nearly 1,400 laps in just 15 starts, then it'll be time for 11 fans to worry.
18. Marcos Ambrose
Yes, Ambrose only has two top-10s in 10 Richmond starts, both coming back in 2010. But this year he has two top-5 finishes and they both came on short tracks.
19. Jamie McMurray
My nine-year old daughter raises a good point. If they flipped the McDonald's Golden Arches on Jamie Mac's hood so that the rounded parts faced out into the wind, would it be better aerodynamically?
20. AJ Allmendinger
If I'd come to you in January and told you that after eight races The Dinger would be ahead of Harvick, Kahne, Kurt Busch, and Truex in the standings you would have told me to go take a nap.