Each month of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season, ESPN’s Ryan McGee ranks the top 20 drivers in the series.
Biggest mover: Austin Dillon jumps three spots, from 18th to 15th.
Biggest loser: Jimmie Johnson falls four spots, from fifth to ninth.
New this month: Kasey Kahne
Dropped out: Daniel Suarez
Last month: 2 | Top-10s: 20
The best guy all season was so dominant, not even a system designed to help the field catch back up could slow him down. He ran through it like Starsky & Hutch driving through a pile of boxes at the bad guys’ hideout.
Last month: 1 | Top-10s: 22
The day NASCAR unveiled the final four or bust clean slate Homestead format, I scribbled Busch’s name on a sheet of paper and passed it around to the media because I felt like it was custom-made for him. The last three years he’s finished first, third and second.
Last month: 2 | Top-10s: 20
All due respect to the guys who advanced to the final two rounds ahead of Larson, there was no question that Larson was one of the top three racers all season. And he had class enough to give the Cup contenders room to work at Homestead.
Last month: 6 | Top-10s: 23
The Closer did just that again, rallying to make the Championship 4 and dang near rallying past Truex to steal the Cup.
Last month: 4 | Top-10s: 21
Brad now has 24 wins, 14 poles and Sunday marked his fourth finish in the top five in the championship standings. One day he’ll skate into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. You can boo that all you want, I don’t care. Neither does he.
Last month: 8 | Top-10s: 22
Last month: 7 | Top-10s: 21
Oh, don’t worry, he’ll win a race one day. I mean, he will win a race one day, right?
Last month: 10 | Top-10s: 18
It was very cool of Dale Junior to insist that Kenseth be included in all of his farewell activities. It was not very cool of NASCAR to not say goodbye to him in an official capacity because he hadn’t explicitly used the word “retirement” at any point.
Last month: 5 | Top-10s: 11
Finished 10th in the standings, but his 11 top 10s were roughly half of his career per-season average. He’s only finished a season with fewer than 20 top 10s twice, this year and last year.
Last month: 9 | Top-10s: 14
I firmly believe that years from now we will look back on 2017 and in hindsight say, “Man, we really should’ve made a much bigger deal out of Blaney’s breakout season.”
Last month: 12 | Top-10s: 9
His two wins not only served as a career comeback, but a comeback for the Roush Fenway organization. They still have a ways to go, but a pair of new trophies never hurts morale.
Last month: 11 | Top-10s: 17
All you need to know about Jamie Mac: He was the only driver to show up for Kenseth and Earnhardt’s farewell photo session on Friday night and ask to be included. Then again, if he really loved them he would’ve brought them some Egg White Delight McMuffins.
Last month: 13 | Top-10s: 13
Finished with one win, seven top-5s, 13 top-10s, an average finish of 15.8 and finished on the lead lap in 32 of 36 races. And that, race fans, is the most Ryan Newman stat line you will ever read.
Last month: 17 | Top-10s: 15
Won only one race, but it was the Great American Race. Efficiency!
Last month: 18 | Top-10s: 4
Dillon and his cowboy hat somehow managed to finish 11th in the final points standings despite only four top-10s. I take back what I said earlier. THIS is the most Ryan Newman stat line you will ever read.
Last month: NR | Top-10s: 6
I wonder, will his eyes look as blue in the poorer end of the Cup garage? Oh wait, he drove for RPM when it was falling apart and Red Bull, too. And yeah, they were still dreamy blue then, too.
Last month: 19 | Top-10s: 13
Most assumed that when he took over Tony Stewart’s ride his Harry Potter-like invisibility cloak would finally be gone. But I honestly don’t remember even seeing him this season.
Last month: 16 | Top-10s: 17
Synonyms for encumbered: hamper, obstruct, impede, cramp, inhibit, limit, constrain, restrain, bog down, slow (down).
Last month: 14 | Top-10s: 14
Meet your 2017 Rookie of the Year! That’s a big deal. I mean, look at the legends who’ve won it before. Guys like Richard Petty, David Pearson, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Conway and Stephen Leicht.
Last month: 20 | Top-10s: 8
OK, one more time, with feeling … JUUUUUUUUNEYEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!