Rankings are updated every Monday of the NASCAR season.
Logano was not among the favorites during Speedweeks. However, on Sunday he came on strong when it mattered, becoming the second youngest winner of NASCAR’s most prestigious race.
The defending Sprint Cup champion was among the favorites coming into the week. Harvick made little noise until it mattered Sunday; he didn’t lead a lap but came home second.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt came into the Daytona 500 as the defending champion and, after winning his Duel qualifying race last Thursday, he was a favorite for Sunday. He led 32 laps, but towards the end fell back in the pack. He made a furious late rally though, and came home with a nice third-place finish.
Hamlin led on four laps but stayed in touch all day with the lead pack. Hamlin finished fourth and looks like a contender for the season.
Johnson led 39 laps Sunday. He was strong all week and seems to have a new attitude. Johnson may take his fifth-place finish from Sunday and show in the weeks ahead that he is back in championship form.
Mears was lucky to make the field for this year’s 500 and did an admirable job Sunday, racing to a sixth-place finish. Sadly, look for Mears to fall quickly outside the top 15 in the coming weeks.
Unlike Mears, Bowyer should be moving up in the coming weeks. Bowyer ran among the leaders all race long and could have been a winner had he not gotten shuffled back in the end to finish seventh. This is a good indication of the weeks ahead for him.
Martin Truex, Jr.
Truex always runs well and always looks like he could win. He can just never put the entire package together and seal the deal. Sunday was no exception. Truex ran near the front in the top three towards the end of the race, but fell short and came home eighth.
Kahne has equipment from one on the top teams in NASCAR. Yet, unlike his teammates, Kahne always seems to struggle and Sunday was no different. Kahne never led a lap and came home ninth.
Biffle is now the leader at Roush-Fenway Racing, among a group of young drivers. Roush hoped to come out strong, and they sort of did just that as they won the XFINITY Series race on Saturday night. Sunday was a different story as Biffle was the highest finishing Roush driver, landing a 10th-place spot.
Like Mears, Gilliland is a nice guy and talented driver. He did finish a surprising 11th place Sunday; however, with limited resources, don’t expect to see Gilliland in the top 15 for very long.
Sam Hornish, Jr.
In his debut with Richard Petty Motorsports, Hornish had an up-and-down week. He and his new team are still learning about each other and, despite a so-so 12th-place finish, the potential is there for better times ahead.
Annett is with another underfunded team. They had a great finish by their standards on Sunday. However, they will soon disappear from the top 15.
Dillon is entering his sophomore year and is starting to show the maturity that will help him in the future. He was caught up in an accident and suffered minor damage that thwarted his efforts for a good finish.
The driver who won at Daytona last summer ran okay this week. However, on Sunday a mechanical issue relegated him to a 15th-place finish.
About The Ranker:
Greg Engle is an Examiner.com writer and an award-winning columnist who has worked full time for the Sporting News and the NASCAR Wire Service—if you wanted to get any more inside the sport of NASCAR you’d have to wear a crash helmet. He has received bylines in hundreds of newspapers across the country on auto sports and has also been featured on NASCAR.com, ThatsRacin.com, ESPN and Fox Sports. His work can be found at Examiner.com.