Frontstretch Staff · Wednesday October 16, 2013
Halfway through the Chase, Brad Keselowski crashed the party in Charlotte. It took more than a complete season, but he finally returned to Victory Lane, running down Kasey Kahne and passing him with 10 laps left to claim his first win of 2013. Keselowski also became the first non-Chaser to win a race in the playoffs since November 2011.
Kasey Kahne, the driver who won for Red Bull that fateful day in '11 has struggled to stop his lackluster performance in this Chase. However, he returned to one of his statistically best tracks on the schedule and took full advantage. Leading the most laps, Kahne finished second, his first top 10 of the postseason. It's a valiant performance although it comes too little, too late for this year's bid for the championship. He still sits 13th, dead last among title contenders and 81 markers behind leader Matt Kenseth.
The point differential between Kenseth and second-place Johnson is now only four, with only 29 back to third-place Harvick. All three finished in the top six Saturday night; was that enough to keep them inside the top 3 in our Power Rankings? Remember this week's order fondly, for Talladega is next on the schedule. Known as the elusive “wild card” in the Chase, it’ll be interesting to see how the points, and Power Rankings, look after Sunday. Expect a major shakeup.
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: October 16th|
|Rank||Driver (First Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Matt Kenseth (4)||137||2|
|Turned a mediocre evening into one where he just beat out Jimmie Johnson. Now JJ understands what he has done to others for years now. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com|
|2||Jimmie Johnson (3)||136||1|
|What’s the bigger mystery? The so-called debris that likely took away a certain win Saturday night or the fact that he had trouble on a restart and couldn’t recover. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com|
|Called his team miracle workers after a sixth-place finish, which is pretty accurate considering Harvick was nowhere to be found for most of the race. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com|
|Still keeping the asterisk next to the champion’s name a possibility. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com|
|Throwing temper tantrums? Claiming fifth isn’t enough? Dominating the Nationwide Series, every week which only adds to his frustration? Sounds like we’ve seen this movie before…Kyle’s last Chase. And the one before that…and the one before that... Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com|
|6||Carl Edwards||87||T - 10|
|Pretty much what I expected Carl to do in the Chase... collect some top-15 finishes and barely make it to Las Vegas for the awards banquet. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com|
|T - 7||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||86||5|
|Earnhardt, Jr. was excellent early on in the race, then his handling went in the toilet. Probably needed a relatively simple adjustment to fix it, but never got the caution necessary to do it before getting lapped. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com|
|T - 7||Kurt Busch||86||6|
|The only Chaser yet to lead a lap during the postseason. So close, this season with Furniture Row but at times it still feels so far away. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com|
|9||Clint Bowyer||82||T - 10|
|You’ve got to wonder what things will be like, the rest of the season between he and the rest of Michael Waltrip Racing after that spin caused 15 percent of their workforce to lose their jobs. Not the type of stat you want to match that number on the side of your race car. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com|
|Finally hit paydirt on Saturday night. Good for him. Now, he has to string together a bunch more good runs to cap off the year and give himself some momentum going into the offseason. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com|
|The good news for Kahne is that this second-place finish didn’t come at the hands of Matt Kenseth. The bad news? He finished second, again. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com|
|You know he wants to finish on a good note with Stewart-Haas Racing and Saturday’s seventh-place finish was a step in the right direction. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com|
|13||Greg Biffle||62||T - 8|
|Somehow, he’s sixth in the points, but it’s hard to believe as he hasn’t contended for the lead much in the Chase. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com|
|14||Joey Logano||60||T - 8|
|Seems like Penske can only have one successful car per race in 2013. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com|
|He hasn’t had a great 2013, by anyone’s measurements, but he does not have a DNF this year. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com|
|Dropped Out: None.|
|Others Receiving Votes: Martin Truex, Jr. (23), Marcos Ambrose (17), Denny Hamlin (16), Aric Almirola (13), Jeff Burton (13), Juan Pablo Montoya (12), Paul Menard (12), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (11), Kyle Larson (5).|
|Who Voted: Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com; Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com; Kelly Crandall, Speedwaymedia.com; Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com; Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com;Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com; Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com,.|
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