Sprint Cup Series Power Rankings: Atlanta Motor Speedway


Feb 22, 2015; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano (22) celebrate with Harley J. Earl Trophy after winning the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

1. Joey Logano–   He’s been called sliced bread. He’s been called the next Jeff Gordon, and you may now call him Daytona 500 champion.   Joey Logano’s breakthrough win in the sport’s biggest race elevates him from a guy on the cusp of superstardom to a bona fide superstar.

Logano’s best finish at Atlanta was 2nd in 2013

2. Kevin Harvick– With the other three Stewart-Haas Racing teams in complete disarray, Kevin Harvick seems to have things figured out. Another title run could very well be in the cards for the closer, despite Stewart-Haas’ inability to measure up.

Harvick has one victory (March 2001) in 24 career starts at Atlanta.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.–   Dale Jr. had one fast hot rod at Daytona, but the fastest car doesn’t always win the race. If it’s any consolation. Dale Jr. seems to have some of that magical charm left over from 2014.

He has one victory (March 2004) in 27 career starts at Atlanta.

4. Jimmie Johnson– While a majority of the Speedweeks media spotlight centered on teammate Jeff Gordon’s Daytona 500 swan song, the six-time champion nearly won his third Daytona 500.

Johnson is a three time Atlanta winner

5. Jeff Gordon– Coming off a disappointing Daytona 500 finish, Jeff Gordon prepares for one final trip around Atlanta Motor Speedway, the very place where his storied career began in the fall of 1992. Atlanta has produced an abundance of defining career moments for Gordon over the years. Could the four time champion add another milestone (six wins at Atlanta) to his impressive resume on Sunday afternoon?

6. Denny Hamlin– What an eventful Speedweeks for Denny Hamlin. First he locked horns with Danica Patrick, and then he drove his heart out in the Daytona 500 only to come up just short of winning it all. If only he had one more lap, we might be calling Hamlin Daytona 500 champion.

Hamlin has one victory (September 2012) in 15 career starts at Atlanta.

7. Clint Bowyer– Give Clint Bowyer MVP honors (Most Valuable Pusher) for his magnanimous efforts in last Sunday’s Daytona 500. Thankfully for Joey Logano, it’s nice to have a few friends looking out for you once in a while. For Bowyer’s sake, hopefully Joey returns the favor sometime real soon.

8. Kasey Kahne–   Last time Kasey Kahne turned laps around Atlanta Motor Speedway, he was doing everything in his power to fight off Matt Kenseth for a spot in the Chase; ultimately he would go on to win the race in dramatic fashion. This time don’t expect the dramatic flair, but Kahne is a driver that has a legitimate chance of winning this weekend’s race down in Dixieland.

Kahne has three victories (06.09.14) in 18 career starts at Atlanta.

9 Martin Truex Jr.– Year one with Furniture Row Racing had Martin Truex Jr. singing the blues. Year two is off and running on a high note. Marty was one of the few drivers that could have easily capitalized had NASCAR decided to gamble on another green white checker finish.

Truex Jr. has recorded two top-five finishes in the last three Atlanta races.

10. Casey Mears– The guy who drives the car with the gecko on the hood spent most of Thursday evening on pins and needles absolutely certain his Daytona 500 dreams had gone up in smoke. Come Sunday he was looking pretty snazzy mixing it up with the lead pack on route to his second consecutive top 10 finish in the Daytona 500.

11. Greg Biffle– Wasn’t Roush Fenway Racing supposed to stink up the joint this season? Combine winning the Xfinity Series race with Ryan Reed at the wheel on Saturday cwith the Biff’s convincing 10th-place run in the Daytona 500 and you get a pretty good Speedweeks for (insert air quotes here) this sinking ship.

12. Brad Keselowski– The last time there was a Sprint Cup Series race in the spring at Atlanta, Carl Edwards sent Brad Keselowski for one wild ride. Funny how that moment remains fixated in our minds some five years later.

13. Matt Kenseth– Turns out winning the Sprint Unlimited did nothing for Matt Kenseth’s confidence, because for whatever reason, he just can’t shake off this ugly winless drought.

Kenseth finished second at Atlanta in the summer of 2014.

14. Austin Dillon– Austin and his little bro gave the competition a glimpse into the future at Daytona. Running up front with some of the sports’ best restrictor plate drivers should instill a ton of confidence into the psyche of the bothers Dillon. Yes, these youngsters are ahead of their time.

15. Carl Edwards– A decade ago, he swept both Atlanta races; a decade later, he would love nothing better than to win a race for his new team.

Edwards has three victories (’05, ’08) in 17 career starts at Atlanta.

16. David Gilliland– You just get the feeling that one of these days, David Gilliland will be in the right place at the right time and claim a much deserved restrictor plate victory. He’s come close far too many times to be denied for much longer.

17. Sam Hornish Jr.– Welcome back to the Sprint Cup Series. Sam Hornish Jr.! A solid Daytona 500 run gives us reason to believe the former king of Indy car can flourish driving for the king of NASCAR.

18. Aric Almirola– Based on his strong Daytona 500 performance, Aric Almirola has to be feeling pretty good about what lies ahead for him as he attempts to make good on another march towards the chase.

19. Kyle Larson– Typically a dynamite driver at most of the tracks the Sprint Cup Series runs on, Kyle Larson, the wonder kid, has yet to figure out restrictor plate racing. Boo. Hiss.

20. Ryan Newman– Last season’s winless hero remains winless following the Daytona 500.

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