Joey Logano tops SI.com's NASCAR Chase Week 6 at Talladega Racing Power Rankings.
The longer the Chase for the Cup plays out under the new rules, the more it comes off like yet another reboot of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 — a ride that should feel familiar suddenly doesn’t after a surprise hijacking. And now, just when the situation aboard this runaway playoff couldn’t seem more tense, the next stop is Talladega—that 2.66-mile monstrosity in Alabama's northeast central plains that is known for gathering cars in a gale-force crash called the Big One.
Last year, under a tested playoff format that graded the 12 best drivers on a cumulative curve, there was at least some hope of saving one's postseason after a poor showing at Talladega. But this year there will truly be no possibility for recovery for underperforming drivers now that Talladega is an elimination race in the Chase's knockout-style format. Some drivers who are facing the cut are huge names with about as much room to breathe as their cars, which will be muzzled by restrictor plates in keeping with NASCAR’s nearly 30-year tradition of trying to keep this stock car race from turning into an air show. And those drivers have been dreading the start of Sunday’s Geico 500 (2 p.m. Eastern, ESPN) for good reason: Talladega not only has a reputation for crowning longshot winners, but during the Chase’s decade-long history, a playoff contender’s odds of winning have been 50-50.
Last week’s post-race melee at Charlotte was just a setup to this fast-thickening plot—the forceful takeover. This week, though, is when the action finally runs off the rails.