Beth Lunkenheimer · Wednesday November 6, 2013
Jimmie Johnson did everything he could Sunday to take control of the points lead. He won the race in dominating fashion, leading the most laps (255). Matt Kenseth battled an ill-handling car all day, and overcame a pit road speeding penalty to finish fourth, losing only seven points to Johnson. Ironically, last season, Jimmie Johnson had the same points lead leaving Texas in his championship loss to Brad Keselowski.
With only two races remaining, it can not be denied that the points battle is down to two drivers. Jeff Gordon tried his hardest to throw his name into the championship discussion winning at Martinsville last week. However, a blown tire early in the race put Gordon in the garage, dropping him to sixth in points and erasing all hopes of a fifth championship. Kevin Harvick now sits third, 40 points behind Johnson.
Carl Edwards won the pole and kept stride with Johnson, but a blown engine ended his day early. Parker Kligerman turned heads Sunday, finishing 18th in his Sprint Cup debut with Swan Racing.
Johnson and Kenseth continue to battle hard, neither wanting to be denied the 2013 championship. Johnson said that with both cars being so evenly matched, it will come down to mistakes. It’ll be exciting to see these two drivers battle all the way to Homestead. Before the drivers unload in Phoenix, let’s see how your driver ranks 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: November 6th|
|Rank||Driver (First Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Jimmie Johnson (6)||120||2|
|He’s laid down the gauntlet. Now, Kenseth has to respond. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com|
|He will have to be on his game these last two weeks to win; we’re talking a first or second with a max points day in there, too. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com|
|He’s been consistently good in the Chase, but needed another win or two. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com|
|4||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||103||7|
|He’s got six top 10s in eight Chase races, three of which are second-place finishes. He’s the third best driver in the Chase that’s haunted by his Chicago finish. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com|
|This Chase has not been a complete disaster for him, and he’s still young enough to win some titles, but he’s probably now in the “won’t believe it until we see it” category when it comes to winning a championship. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com|
|A lot of people were on the ‘Drive for 5’ bandwagon after Martinsville. It’s amazing how quickly fortunes can change from week to week. Looks like Gordon will have to wait another year; but how many does he have left? Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com|
|He hasn’t exactly suffered from the second place curse, but he isn’t having a year to remember either. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com|
|Looks like AAA fixes flat tires, dead batteries and slow race cars as Logano pulled off his first top 5 since Kansas. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com|
|Another surprising mediocre run on an intermediate track in the Chase. Wonder if “The Biff” is calling Joe Gibbs to see if he has any open rides available next year. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com|
|Despite missing the Chase, Keselowski has gone a long way towards righting his ship for 2014. We’ll see how it ultimately works out. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com|
|Let’s see if he can get through two more races without any significant, suspension-causing, blowups. If he can, then it will be a hugely successful season for the elder Busch brother. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com|
|Won the pole and seemed to be strong enough for at least a top-5 finish, until the engine let go. Yes, he won two races this season; yes he made the Chase; but I still don’t think he, or his team, recovered from the disappointment of losing the championship to Stewart. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com|
|He’s got some spunk left in him, but wonder if the switch to Richard Childress Racing will make a significant different for him or not. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com|
|After weeks and weeks of excellent form, McMurray and the No. 1 team laid an egg on Sunday. They haven’t been that bad in quite a while. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com|
|After scoring only his second top 10 of the Chase, Kasey went from one of the top two Hendrick drivers after Richmond to the bottom of the barrel. Maybe being the only Hendrick driver to not be invited to Las Vegas will light a fire under the No. 5 team for 2014. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com|
|Dropped Out: Martin Truex, Jr. (15).|
|Others Receiving Votes: Martin Truex Jr. (40), Paul Menard (19), Denny Hamlin (17), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (13), Aric Almirola (9), Jeff Burton (5), Mark Martin (3), Juan Pablo Montoya (1).|
|Who Voted: Phil Allaway, 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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