Beth Lunkenheimer · Wednesday July 17, 2013
It’s hard to remember the last time a part-time driver won a Sprint Cup Series race. Brian Vickers changed all of that Sunday, claiming a popular victory at New Hampshire. Sunday’s win was his third overall victory, first since 2009 and first since he returned to racing after being sidelined for the second half of the 2010 season due to blood clots in his legs and lungs.
Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne both had much-needed strong runs, finishing fourth and 11th respectively and moving back into the top 10 in points. Although Tony Stewart ran out of gas and finished 19th, he now holds the second wild card spot with his win and Kahne’s jump back into the top 10.
A number of drivers could use the upcoming off-week to cool off after on-track altercations Sunday. Matt Kenseth got into the back of Kurt Busch, taking out Ryan Newman in the process. Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. might not be spending too much time together this week after Danica misjudged her entry into turn 1, spinning into Ricky and collecting Travis Kvapil.
After a long stretch of consecutive races, the Sprint Cup Series has a rare off week before heading to Indianapolis to race the Brickyard. In the meantime, see if your favorite driver made the Power Rankings.
How The Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football -- our expert stable of NASCAR writers, both on staff and from other major publications, will vote for the Top 20 on a 20-19-18-17-16-15... 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first place driver, 19 for their second, and so on. In the end, Michael Mehedin calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and ... here you go!
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP 15 POWER RANKINGS: July 17th|
|Rank||Driver (First Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Jimmie Johnson (5)||100||1|
|Johnson claimed a top-10 finish despite the perfect storm of inspection nightmares in Loudon. They’re a tough nut to crack. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com|
|It’s now official; Harvick will drive for Stewart-Haas Racing next year in the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet. Guess it’ll now become, “This Bud’s 4 You.” Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com|
|Who would have thought that he would be driving the only MWR team without a win at this point in the season? Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com|
|T - 4||Kyle Busch||80||4|
|Warning! Don’t mess with Newman. It’s a battle you won’t win. Denny Darnell, Darnell Communications|
|T - 4||Matt Kenseth||80||7|
|A little hiccup during the race but rallied for another top 10 finish. Look for this team to start testing some stuff for the Chase over the next few races. A little inconsistency makes me think he might not have enough for Jimmie, but you never know. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com|
|Too bad he didn’t carry the Red Sox pain scheme this year at the New England track. It would have been the only way anyone would have noticed the No. 99 car on Sunday. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com|
|7||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||57||5|
|Earnhardt, Jr. ran great all weekend but fell off towards the end of the race. Not necessarily good knowing that New Hampshire is in the Chase. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com|
|Advice for the No. 5 team – qualify on the pole and stay out front, away from everyone. Denny Darnell, Darnell Communications|
|Kurt Busch’s stint in the top 10 in points ends at one week. Another strong run was fouled by a late race incident dropping him to 14th in points. Time is running out to make the Chase, and the chance of missing out might bring the Kurt Busch of old out once again. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com|
|Sunday’s race just might get him out of the funk. The team finally has some momentum going. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com|
|T - 11||Martin Truex, Jr.||45||10|
|Outside the top 10 but ahead of Tony Stewart for the Wild Card. Denny Darnell, Darnell Communications|
|T - 11||Tony Stewart||45||9|
|“The Gamble!” The 14 team knows two wins would be a ticket to the Chase. Just a couple laps short. Denny Darnell, Darnell Communications|
|T - 13||Greg Biffle||44||11|
|Thank goodness Greg has that win to fall back on. Not seeing anything impressive to show he’ll be a threat in the Chase. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com|
|T - 13||Jeff Gordon||44||15|
|Can’t help but think Gordon’s down and almost out. While listening to him on the radio after he was spun out, confusion and dejection were laced in his voice as the team again couldn’t seem to get the car the way he wanted it. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com|
|A very impressive race for Aric, and notched another top 5 finish. Looks like Petty Motorsports threw their name into the Chase conversation. Would be nice to see that team back in the Chase. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com|
|Dropped Out: Joey Logano (13), Ryan Newman (14).|
|Others Receiving Votes: Jamie McMurray (29), Joey Logano (22), Jeff Burton (18), Ryan Newman (14), Paul Menard (8), Brian Vickers (6), Marcos Ambrose (3), Casey Mears (1), Juan Pablo Montoya (1).|
|Who Voted: Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com; Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com; Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com; Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com; Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com.|
©2000 - 2008 Beth Lunkenheimer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!