Frontstretch Staff · Wednesday October 30, 2013
Jeff Gordon has been determined to prove his addition to the 2013 Chase was no fluke, that he deserved the opportunity to battle for a championship. Well, Gordon made a giant step towards proving the naysayers wrong, winning at Martinsville and collecting his eighth victory at the famed track which ties with Jimmie Johnson for most wins amongst active drivers. He now sits third in points, only 27 markers behind Johnson and Matt Kenseth.
Championship leaders Johnson and Kenseth dominated the day, leading a combined 325 of 500 laps. The two ran on alternating tire strategies throughout; one would lead while the other fought through the field, and vice versa. In the end, it was Kenseth who came out on top, second to Johnson's fifth which leaves them tied for the points lead with only three races remaining.
A Martinsville race wouldn’t be complete without a bit of post-race confrontation. Greg Biffle had some choice words for Johnson after the race, stemming from apparent contact which ultimately led to Biffle’s bumper cover coming loose. That caused him to pit and fall from seventh to 27th in the running order, costing him a chance at a potential victory. Although he rallied to finish ninth, there is always the “what if” factor to consider.
Drivers head to Texas now for a Sunday afternoon showdown that will separate contenders from pretenders. As Jeff Gordon said in his post-race press conference about who has a legitimate shot at the championship, “Let’s be honest, we’re [Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick & Kyle Busch] all alive, but right now there are two that are in it. Our job is to go to Texas and make it three.”
Before the cars unload in Texas, see if your driver improved his position after the last short track of the season.
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 30th|
|Rank||Driver (First Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Matt Kenseth (4)||137||2|
|Deserves the top spot when you outrun Jimmie Johnson and “Johnsonville.” Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com|
|2||Jimmie Johnson (2)||134||1|
|That loud grumble you heard after Martinsville came from Johnson, unable to believe that not only did he fail to win, or extend his point lead, but that Kenseth outperformed him. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com|
|Hasn’t won a NASCAR championship since the Cup Series was Winston. He’s smoking (not tobacco) to get his first Sprint title. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com|
|Despite the team discord, Harvick still managed to put up a good run on Sunday. We’ll have to see if the Dillon quotient rears its ugly head again this weekend (Remember, Austin Dillon is entered in the No. 33 Circle Sport Chevrolet, which RCR is running this weekend). Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com|
|Unless he wins the final three races, his Chase chances are pretty much gone. How many of us thought this might be the year he was going to win it? Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com|
|Apparently, he’s decided he can come out of hiding after the Richmond scandal and remind everyone that he does, in fact still race and races pretty well, too. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com|
|7||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||103||6|
|Any schoolteachers out there? Need a “B” student who’ll give you no trouble, sit quietly in the corner but never realize their full potential no matter what you throw at them? I think Hendrick Motorsports has the perfect “back to school” pairing for you. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com|
|If Carl was on a mission Sunday to remind people that he hasn’t dropped off the face of the Earth, it took less than 100 laps to accomplish that mission… twice. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com|
|9||Jamie McMurray||78||T - 9|
|Would be a championship contender if he could figure out how to get to the Chase without going through the regular season. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com|
|10||Greg Biffle||77||T - 9|
|Halloween is approaching and Biffle decided he wanted to be Kurt Busch by getting all angry and in Johnson’s face like that. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com|
|He fought the good fight with a one-car team, and he still may well have a couple of good finishes left in him. But he wouldn’t be human if he wasn’t peeking ahead to next year. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com|
|Part of me still wonders what would have happened had Logano not started the Chase in the midst of both a conspiracy crisis and an ugly DNF. Either way, still a great learning experience for a youngster expected to be back here many times this decade. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com|
|Bad Brad plus Humble Pie equals an incredibly focused driver for 2014. Just you wait, this Fall is just a small flash of what the next 36 races are going to be like for the competition. I have a feeling. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com|
|Text message from Newman to Harvick after the race: “Hey man, you’ve already kicked me out of my ride at the end of the year. Was it necessary to kick me out of the race, too? Guess you saw a 3 on the car and thought I was one of the Dillon boys.” Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com|
|15||Martin Truex, Jr.||30||NR|
|At least he’s got a ride for next year. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com|
|Dropped Out: Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard (T - 15).|
|Others Receiving Votes: Paul Menard (29), Kasey Kahne (26), Jeff Burton (25), Denny Hamlin (19), Juan Pablo Montoya (14), Aric Almirola (8), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (6), Danica Patrick (5), Michael McDowell (1).|
|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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