With the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in a rare off-week, it's a good time to look at the five drivers who have made the biggest jumps in points from the end of the 2014 season through the first 15 races of 2015. And without question, the list carries some surprises.
Getty Images for NASCARTodd Warshaw
5. David Ragan, +8
Think about this for a minute: David Ragan ended last year 32nd in points and is 24th now. But he's made that leap forward in points driving for three different teams -- Front Row Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and now Michael Waltrip Racing. He's also had four different crew chiefs this year.
NASCAR via Getty ImagesMatt Hazlett / NASCAR
4. Danica Patrick, +9
After a disappointing 2014 season that ended with her finishing 28th in points, Patrick has shown marked improvement in 2015 with crew chief Daniel Knost. She has two top-10 finishes so far year and has moved up to 19th in points, with an outside shot at a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
NASCAR via Getty ImagesSean Gardner
3. Paul Menard, +9
One of the more pleasant surprises so far in 2015 is Menard, who has risen from 21st in points at the end of last year to 12th now. He has two top-five and four top-10 finishes so far, and is the highest in points of any of the three full-time Richard Childress Racing drivers.
Getty ImagesRey Del Rio
2. Jamie McMurray, +11
In terms of resources, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates doesn't have the muscle of the elite teams. Nevertheless, Jamie Mac has gone from 18th in points last year to seventh. He is the highest-ranked winless driver in the series and is a virtual lock to make the Chase.
Getty ImagesJerry Markland
1. Martin Truex Jr., +22
When you compare Truex's stats year-to-year, they don't even sound like the same driver. Last year, Truex wound up 24th in points with no race victories, one top five and five top 10s in 36 points races. In 15 points races so far this year, Truex is second in points behind only Kevin Harvick. And Truex has earned one victory, five top fives and a record-tying 14 top 10s in only 15 starts.