NASCAR Power Rankings: The Bojangles Southern 500 From Darlington

Sep 6, 2015; Darlington, SC, USA; The sun sets behind the press box and grandstands during the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 6, 2015; Darlington, SC, USA; The sun sets behind the press box and grandstands during the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, it's time for our weekly NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Power Rankings. Who is at the top of our list following the Pure Michigan 400 as the series heads to Darlington for the Bojangles Southern 500?

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With young talents desperate for their first Sprint Cup series win occupying three of the first four spots on the final restart during the Pure Michigan 400, you had to imagine one of the three would outlast the only veteran (Brad Keselowski) and capture his first win. Kyle Larson did just that, and the excitement was palpable, which is good because that was probably the most excitement all day at an otherwise lackluster affair in the Irish Hills of Michigan on Sunday afternoon.

Sure, there were story lines -- Chris Buescher having engine trouble from the start on a day when he needed to preserve his 30th-place-or-better spot in the driver's standings (he did, finishing seven laps off the pace), Kyle Busch spinning on his own early and never really recovering from it, Martin Truex, Jr.'s team telling him to go before a pit stop was complete, causing him to lose time and suffer body damage that plagued him the rest of the way and names like Tony Stewart dropping backwards from the start, never to be heard from again. The best thing about Michigan for some is that it is over.

Labor Day weekend brings a return to Darlington Raceway, as it should. Almost every team is participating in Darlington's "throw back" celebration of NASCAR's history with special paint schemes, etc. Party atmosphere aside, several teams will be serious about doing what it takes to secure one of the remaining Chase berths -- among them the likes of Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray who are all safe for now but guaranteed nothing. Drivers such as Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Trevor Bayne and Ryan Blaney look to have their own party and fight for the win.

Be sure to leave comments here or reach us via social media to discuss where your favorite driver is on the list, or to tell us who should be on/off the list in your opinion!

Dropping off the list this week: 17, 34

New (or returning) to the list this week: 21, 24

Next: Honorable Mentions

Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Honorable Mentions

Kasey Kahne

No. 5, Hendrick Motorsports


(Last Week: NR) -- Best run in a long time, starting 14th and finishing 11th, but running better than that during segments. HMS in general maybe found a little life this past weekend.

Alex Bowman

No. 88, Hendrick Motorsports


(Last Week: NR) -- The 30th-place finishing spot does not reflect upon the solid weekend this team had at Michigan. Mechanical woes denied this group what they deserved.

Next: No. 15 to No. 11

Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Power Rankings (No. 15 -- No. 11)

A.J. Allmendinger

No. 47, JTG Daugherty Racing


(Last Week: 13) -- Crunch time now, son. Two opportunities left to score a needed win, otherwise its baked beans for you all winter.

Ryan Blaney

No. 21, Wood Brothers Racing


(Last Week: NR) -- When asked what it felt like watching the No. 42 team celebrate the Michigan win, he replied that he didn't care unless it would have been him. I think I like the attitude.

Chase Elliott

No. 24, Hendrick Motorsports


(Last Week: NR) -- Another good response for a dumb TV question: NBCSN: "Do you think you have a chance to win next week?" Chase: "If I show up, it means I feel I can win, so if you see me next week at Darlington, you've got your answer."

Matt Kenseth

No. 20, Joe Gibbs Racing


(Last Week: 14) -- Earth calling Matt. Are you still here?

Tony Stewart

No. 14, Stewart-Haas Racing


(Last Week: 10) -- Dropped anchor right from the start, never to be heard from again. Meanwhile your old crew chief was beating everyone.

Next: No. 10 to No. 6

Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Power Rankings (No. 10 -- No. 6)

Martin Truex, Jr.

No. 78, Furniture Row Motorsports


(Last Week: 8) -- Whose black cat was it this week that crossed your path. Gotta stop beating yourselves.

Jimmie Johnson

No. 48, Hendrick Motorsports


(Last Week: 12) -- Much racier than he has been all summer. The Chase tracks suit him well, even if the current format maybe doesn't.

Kyle Busch

No. 18, Joe Gibbs Racing


(Last Week: 3) -- Must have had Eric Carmen's "All By Myself" playing on the radio. It choreographed your spin, from which you never recovered.

Kurt Busch

No. 41, Stewart-Haas Racing


(Last Week: 9) -- Finished 12th after starting 19th and seeing his brother 90 degrees sideways right in front of him at one point. Target has a sale on clean underwear right now, maybe Larson can get you a price.

Joey Logano

No. 22, Penske Racing


(Last Week: 5) -- Too fast out of the gate. You should have saved some for later.

Next: No. 5 to No. 1

Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Power Rankings (No. 5 -- No. 1)

Denny Hamlin

No. 11, Joe Gibbs Racing


(Last Week: 1) -- He said they chased the handle all day. Yeah, that and all the cars in front of you.

Carl Edwards

No. 19, Joe Gibbs Racing


(Last Week: 4) -- Awkward moment between Carl and the No. 48 in qualifying. Can't we all just get along?

Brad Keselowski

No. 2, Penske Racing


(Last Week: 7) -- He desperately wants a win on his home track, and was clearly much more frustrated than he let on during his TV interview, a sign of his graduation from Penske's finishing school.

Kyle Larson

No. 42, Chip Ganassi Racing


(Last Week: 6) -- Best example of class yet in the 2016 Sprint Cup season by dedicating the win to Bryan Clauson and his family. "Parked it" right where Bryan would have.

Related Story: Winners and Losers From Michigan

Kevin Harvick

No. 4, Stewart-Haas Racing


(Last Week: 2) -- T-Minus three weeks until your fun begins.

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