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
Aric Almirola, Marcos Ambrose
Brian Vickers, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Kurt Busch jumps three spots from 10th to seventh.
Greg Biffle falls four spots from fourth to eighth.
Juan Pablo Montoya, Jim Roper
No. 1. Jimmie Johnson
Drove like a mad man through the field during the race's closing stanza only to have massive mechanical issues. But that happened on the last lap and he still finished sixth. The golden horseshoe returns!
No. 2. Matt Kenseth
You think winning doesn't matter? That's the only thing that kept him from losing his points lead on Sunday, driving a car that ran like it was on ice. Led 112 laps at Charlotte back in May.
No. 3. Kevin Harvick
Had the best car, got jobbed by bad pit timing, then a cool-headed pit call got him back out front and he had the best car again. And guess who won at Charlotte in May? Here comes the Closer, y'all!
No. 4. Jeff Gordon
The Chase's 13th Man is in The Feel, saying, "I really like where this team is right now." He should. The cagey vet has six top-10s in his past seven starts and is hitting his wheelhouse of racetracks.
No. 5. Kyle Busch
Again, I point to Shrub and ask: How tough is this Chase?! He averaged a third-place finish over the first three races and had one bad week out of four. Now he's fifth in points, nearly a full race behind.
No. 6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Little E has posted three consecutive top-10s for the first time since March. He still needs some Talladega magic to get back in the title hunt, but even without it a run at the top five is very possible.
No. 7. Kurt Busch
He had two hugely shocking performances on Sunday. First, he finished second behind Harvick. Second, he managed to have a politely tense postrace discussion with Jeff Gordon without turning into the Hulk.
No. 8. Greg Biffle
On the "Marty & McGee" podcast two weeks ago The Biff said he needed a couple of home runs to get back into the title hunt. All he could muster at Kansas was a bunt single. Finished 31st in May.
No. 9. Joey Logano
Speaking of guys who have quietly turned it around ... don't be shocked if he hauls off and wins at Charlotte this weekend. He won't be.
No. 10. Carl Edwards
Cuz got his first top-5 in five weeks. That top-5 (Richmond win) came five weeks after his last top-5 (fourth at The Glen). So, mark it down. He'll get a top-5 at Phoenix five weeks from now.
No. 11. Ryan Newman
OK ... you can go on and start packing your office for RCR now.
No. 12. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer's generic 14th-place finish dropped him one spot to ninth in the Cup standings, 55 points back. Don't you think each time he falls a little the NASCAR brass let out just one teeny-tiny cheer?
No. 13. Brad Keselowski
Even after this lost season, Roger Penske saw fit to sign Keselowski to a multiyear extension. And after Saturday's Nationwide race, Brad's feud with Kyle Busch also received a multiyear extension.
No. 14. Jamie McMurray
Kansas is where we have historically seen a non-Chaser crash the Chase party with a win, but that didn't happen. Might we see Jamie Mac do those honors at Charlotte?
No. 15. Martin Truex Jr.
So, do we write Truex's woefully bland Chase off to post-controversy depression? Or do we look at these numbers and say maybe he wasn't Chase-worthy after all?
No. 16. Kasey Kahne
His post-Labor Day top-10-less streak is now up to five.
No. 17. Jeff Burton
The good news? The Mayor won at Charlotte just five years ago. The bad news? In the nine CMS races since, he has no top-10s and an average finish of 20.2.
No. 18. Paul Menard
Every week I have that one final-fantasy-team-slot guy who I stare at and stare at, end up not picking, and he finishes in the top 10. This week Menard was that guy.
No. 19. Aric Almirola
And Almirola might be that guy this weekend at Charlotte.
No. 20. Marcos Ambrose
Ambrose spent all day stuck in the pack, even spinning out, but battled up to finish ninth. At one point he yelled "Whoot! Whoot!" to his crew over the radio. That's not a joke. That actually happened.