Frontstretch Staff · Wednesday September 11, 2013
It took until the final lap at Richmond to determine the field for the 2013 Chase. Eight teams are represented in the Chase this year, including a first-time Chase team with Furniture Row Racing and a first-time driver with Joey Logano. Oh, by the way, Carl Edwards won the race Saturday night, his second win of the season.
The night was filled with controversy and drama, which was to be expected. Drivers were in, drivers were out and that changed with every lap. In the end, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch raced their way in, finishing 22nd and second, respectively. Jeff Gordon failed to capitalize on a strong start to the race, and although he finished eighth, was unable to crack the top 10 in points and, without a win, will not make the 2013 Chase.
Drama continued after the race when speculation arose that Clint Bowyer intentionally caused a late caution, which kept Ryan Newman from winning his second race of the season and locking himself into the second wild card position. In addition, radio transmissions between Brian Vickers and his crew chief also raised speculation that he intentionally pitted late in the race to give other drivers a better finishing position. In the end, the largest NASCAR penalty in history was handed down to Michael Waltrip Racing. Because of those penalties, Martin Truex, Jr. will no longer be part of the Chase, being replaced by Ryan Newman.
Congratulations to the 2013 Chase drivers: Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman.
Race 1 of the Chase is in Chicago. Before then, let’s see how your driver ranks after the completion of the regular season in this week’s 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: September 11th|
|Rank||Driver (First Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Matt Kenseth (3)||111||4|
|Even after his own cheating scandal, Kenseth sits atop the points going into the Chase. A new team, five wins and a rejuvenated Kenseth. It’ll be good to see coach Gibbs back at the head table. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com|
|2||Kyle Busch (1)||108||2|
|2013 has been about winning races and avoiding controversies, and there have been plenty to avoid. This might be Kyle’s best chance at a championship if he can keep up the same formula for the final 10. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com|
|Grand theft auto in the clearest sense on Saturday with that win. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com|
|4||Clint Bowyer (1)||92||3|
|Might need to pull in his friends from Duck Dynasty as body guards for the rest of the season. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com|
|If there really is a magic switch over at Hendrick Motorsports, now is definitely the time to hit it. If not, Johnson’s season will only be remembered for what he did between the two Daytona races. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com|
|You know, he’s been pretty good lately. Maybe good enough to win a title. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com|
|This guy is on a roll right now. However, I fear a Red Bull situation here. The team may have overextended themselves just getting into the Chase. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com|
|8||Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (1)||83||6|
|If there was ever a time for him to get on a winning streak, or maybe just win one race, it would be now. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com|
|The only rookie driver in the Chase this year. His team is hitting their stride at the right time and things seem to be falling into place for this team. Look for Logano to capitalize on his good fortunes as of late. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com|
|Kasey now realizes the importance of that dive bomb into turn 1 at Pocono in the final laps of the race. Finished the regular season 14th in points but two wins gets him the first wild card. Still a threat for the championship. This is exactly how the Chase started for Kasey last season. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com|
|Newman to his pit crew: “Remember what I said about you after the race? Totally kidding. Let’s grab a Bloomin’ Onion together and talk about how you’ll lift me to a championship.” Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com|
|It’s quite simple. If Gordon and company want to avoid things like Saturday, try not being in that point year after year at Richmond. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com|
|I did not have much faith in Biffle the second half of the regular season. He showed some spunk this past weekend though. Maybe they were sandbagging, waiting for the Chase to begin? Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com|
|14||Martin Truex, Jr.||40||12|
|Sorry dude. The smackdown is layeth to you as well. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com|
|No longer worried about losing his ride…but still doesn’t want to be shown up by a teenager next season. Needs strong runs to finish the season. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com|
|Dropped Out: Brad Keselowski (14th).|
|Others Receiving Votes: Paul Menard (28), Brad Keselowski (26), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (15), Aric Almirola (10), Marcos Ambrose (10), AJ Allmendinger (7), Juan Pablo Montoya (6), Mark Martin (1).|
|Who Voted: Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com; Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com; Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com; Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com; Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com.|
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