Power Rankings – Sprint Unlimited


Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to “Power Rankings,” a weekly series that I’ll be preparing each Tuesday of each week of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season when there is either a points-paying race or another event (i.e. Sprint Unlimited, All Star Race) on tap for the upcoming weekend.  It will hopefully give readers a quick glance at “who’s hot” and “who’s not.”

Clearly, this inaugural piece is based on 2014 finishing data, off-season developments to certain drivers and teams and, to a small degree, just a “gut” feeling.  Beginning next week, I’ll include a driver’s previous ranking and change from the previous week (up or down.)  The rankings and opinions are entirely my own — feel free to comment and discuss as you wish!

Sprint Unlimited Power Rankings – Daytona International Speedway

  1. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing — If something isn’t broken, you don’t fix it.  Take a championship-winning driver, crew chief and team from 2014 and make no changes for 2015.  How can they not be a favorite?2.
  2. Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, Team Penske — I will guarantee you the bum jack from his last pit stop of the 2014 season has been jettisoned.  That’s all that stood between Logano and a potential championship last year.
  3. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Miller Lite Ford, Team Penske — Attitude, Penske preparation, equipment and desire.  There is nothing missing from this team as we enter 2015.
  4. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports — While Gordon can’t lock it up a berth in what will be his last Chase run this weekend, Daytona is always one of his best tracks.  Don’t be surprised if he uses the Unlimited to put everyone on notice for the following week.
  5. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing — Kenseth isn’t going to go winless again this year.  Will his Toyota have the horses and reliability to make a serious effort?  Quietly being around and in position at the end of big events is a trademark.
  6. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports — Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus will make more noise this year and won’t take last season’s 11th. place finish well.  It’s hard to bet against them.
  7. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports — New crew chief Greg Ives will be tested early, but this ranking is based on Earnhardt, Jr.’s knack for getting around restrictor-plate tracks better than almost anyone.
  8. Carl Edwards, No. 19 Arris / Stanley Tools Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing  — The new guy at JGR usually fares well.  The shift of crew chief Darian Grubb is what makes this ranking appealing.  They could move up early and often as we start 2015.  Seriously everyone, watch this pair.
  9. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing  — In retrospect, a poor choice of pit strategy at the end of last season’s final race.  Other than that, they were there.  With respect to new crew chief Dave Rogers, the loss of Grubb to the No. 19 team will be huge.  They earned a top-10 mention, however.
  10. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing — Another team who earned a top-10 mention based on 2014.  Honestly, this one was tough… it was a toss-up between the No. 31 and the No. 42.  Tie-breaker went to RCR based on the Chase berth last year.

What are your thoughts?  Did your driver make the list?  Please share your comments below!

Mike Hutton is a Staff Writer for BeyondTheFlag.com on the FanSided Network. Follow us on Twitter @Beyond_The_Flag and “Like” us on Facebook.