<
>

Power Rankings: Talladega

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.

Biggest mover

Joey Logano jumps seven spots, from eighth to first.

Biggest loser

Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, and Austin Dillon fall four spots each.

New this week

None

Dropped out

None

Also considered

Kasey Kahne, Aric Almirola, Speedy Thompson

1. Joey Logano

Under the new Chase system, wins equal power. So it shouldn't be any surprise that a guy who came from nowhere to become the season's second two-time winner also moves to top of our totem pole.

2. Kevin Harvick

... Or that the guy who was the first to reach two wins is sitting just below him. However, it is worth noting that Happy hasn't cracked the top-10 at Talladega in his last five starts.

3. Kyle Busch

Another week, another top-six finish for Shrub. There's a pretty good chance he'll have another this weekend at Dega, where he's posted three top-5s over the last four races.

4. Jeff Gordon

Gordon fans are bummed that he once again came so close to winning. But they should also be greatly encouraged by the fact that it looks like all his hard work on restarts is paying off.

5. Matt Kenseth

Slyest racecar driver Tweet of the week came from @mattkenseth, announcing his weekly giveaway with: "The 120th person to RT this that's NOT named Brad, will win my shades from Richmond."

6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

I enjoyed all the emails and Tweets from Junior Nation last week, livid that I have him ranked "so low." My theory is that it has more to do with who is ranked above him, specifically the guy in third.

7. Brad Keselowski

Last week I said that Richmond would be a telling indicator of whether this team was truly back to strength. Their answer was as adamant as a man pointing, yelling, and jumping on car hoods on pit road.

8. Carl Edwards

Speaking of indicators, the next three races -- Talladega, Kansas, and Charlotte -- are going to tell us if Cuz is a real title contender or not.

9. Jimmie Johnson

On Saturday night we targeted the winless champ as our first post-race interview. He climbed from the car, was told he'd finished 32nd, looked at me and joked, "Why do you want to talk to me?"

10. Ryan Newman

At Richmond, the Rocket Man ran somewhere between fifth and 10th all night, finished eighth, and remained ninth in the standings. And that, ladies and gents, was the most Ryan Newman night ever.

11. Brian Vickers

Last week Keselowski posted his hypothetical perfect Sprint Cup schedule (which BTW I totally agreed with). One day I expect Vickers to propose a 38-race schedule featuring 36 short tracks.

12. Tony Stewart

Smoke cleared out early at Richmond, where he spent the entire night running 20th or worse. If you're a fantasy racing freak, save him for the summer. Since his lone 'Dega win in '08 his average finish is 22.4.

13. Greg Biffle

The Biff finished 15th at Richmond, which was about what we should have expected. At Talladega, where you never know what to expect, he's scored five finishes of 14th or better over the last six races.

14. Jamie McMurray

While Biffle has been softly solid at Dega, his former teammate has been loudly go-or-blow. His last nine starts there begin and end with wins. But the 7 races in between include five finishes of 23rd or worse.

15. AJ Allmendinger

The Dinger keeps quietly moving up the charts. Meanwhile, his team owner, Brad Daugherty, was anything but quiet about banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling on this week's Marty & McGee podcast.

16. Clint Bowyer

The last lap he ran at Richmond in 2013 ignited one of NASCAR's all-time worst scandals. The first lap he ran there in 2014 ended in a wreck. This September he should skip Richmond and go to the beach.

17. Kyle Larson

And I think this guy would pay for Bowyer's trip.

18. Austin Dillon

If you're looking for a cheap addition to your Talladega fantasy team, this would be a good place to look. I'm pretty sure that number on his door could pick up a top-10 just on its own.

19. Denny Hamlin

On Friday I asked Hambone about visiting his home track at the right time to get his season turned around. His response was that of a man with shaken confidence. And that was before he finished 22nd.

20. Marcos Ambrose

We could spend hours debating the validity of the fines or who started the fight all day. But there is no debate about this: Marcos Ambrose landed the greatest punch of NASCAR's Modern Era.