Taking the plates off at Auto Club Speedway meant the first “unrestricted” race of the regular season Sunday; and for once, the 2-mile oval didn’t disappoint. No pothole appeared to stop the action, but a threat from Mother Nature sure helped start it, with rain clouds keeping the racing hot and heavy the second we reached the halfway point. Yet while the finish was better, it was the same old story up front, with the reigning four-time champ using both luck and savvy to end the day in Victory Lane at Fontana.
Johnson led a fairly large group who successfully recovered from Daytona disaster, leaving our poll more jumbled than ever this week. 30 different drivers received votes in all, with four receiving at least one first place ranking from our pollsters. Which wheelman was able to snag the top spot? Find out below as the experts decide if your favorite is worthy of a place inside our Top 15.
How The Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football — writers on staff 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, Mike Neff calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and … voila! You have one batch of power rankings to serve to our fans.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP 15 POWER RANKINGS: FEBRUARY 24th|
|Rank||Driver (First Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Kevin Harvick (4)||204||2|
|Got so excited about winning a race he turned the wrong way.|
|2||Jimmie Johnson (5)||202||8|
|Hey Chad, the guys remembered to swap axles with the 88 this morning, right?|
|3||Mark Martin (1)||172||4|
|Word is there is a new GoDaddy.com commercial featuring Mark. Lord, please…do not let it be him in a convertible being pulled over by a guy cop.|
|Since Todd Berrier came on board, he hasn’t finished lower than 11th. It’s about time the Caterpillar Chevy actually started bulldozing its competition …|
|Finally shared some secrets with his teammates. It only took him a year!|
|T – 6||Greg Biffle||137||1|
|Don’t look now, but Biffle is starting to look like the old guy with all the potential.|
|T – 6||Kurt Busch||137||10|
|Being the only really competitive Dodge team in the field should be a disadvantage…right?|
|T – 6||Matt Kenseth||137||11|
|Initial results, while inconclusive, show that Todd Parrott is worth one on track position.|
|For those wondering how long the Daytona momentum would last – it looks like last Friday was your answer.|
|Appeared that the No. 99 team didn’t know “quack” about Fontana on Sunday.|
|Made a green flag pit stop the same time as Johnson when the caution flag came out. Johnson ended up in front of the pace car – Busch ended up a lap down. That’s just the way it goes for Busch in Cup these days …|
|How long before we see Tony on a horse in an Old Spice commercial?|
|In the top 10 in points for the first time in his Cup career. Sweet!|
|14||Jeff Gordon (1)||83||9|
|It’s beginning to look like the No. 24 and the No. 5 should switch spots – Gordon’s running more like teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. than that four-time champ inside his shop.|
|The last two years, Michael Waltrip Racing has collected a total of seven engine failures. How many of those are attributed to Reutimann? How about none. Things that make you go “Hmmm….”|
|Dropped Out: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (6), Kasey Kahne (13), Juan Pablo Montoya (15).|
|Also Receiving Votes: Juan Pablo Montoya (52), Scott Speed (52), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (43), Brian Vickers (40), Martin Truex, Jr. (25), Denny Hamlin (24), Paul Menard (21), Kasey Kahne (18), David Ragan (13), A.J. Allmendinger (12), Ryan Newman (7), Sam Hornish, Jr. (7), Elliott Sadler (3), Regan Smith (3), Brad Keselowski (1).|
|Writer Voting Panel: Phillip Allaway, Brock Beard, Thomas Bowles, Bryan Keith, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, John Potts, Vito Pugliese, Mike Ravesi, Kurt Smith, and Matt Taliaferro.|
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