They call it the Tricky Triangle for a reason, and a serious last-lap melee involving eight cars was the latest Pocono pitfall that knocked out a number of top contenders late. Among those taking hits on the track and in the power rankings included Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, and Martin Truex, Jr., creating a long line of crumpled machines and hurt feelings at the end of Sunday’s 500-mile marathon.
Steering clear of those issues and a Twilight Zone-style ending, Denny Hamlin once again showed his skills on a flat track by scoring his fourth win of the year and the fourth of his career in the Pocono Mountains. Was assuming the series lead in wins enough to edge him into the lead in this week’s Power Rankings? Or was Kyle Busch’s best finish ever at Pocono, runner-up, enough for him to hold first place in the poll? There’s also the small matter of their tough-talking teammate, Joey Logano. After an on-track brouhaha turned off-track shouting match with Kevin Harvick, does he get extra votes for showing the fire that burns deep inside after the end of the race? Read this week’s top 15 to see if our experts gave the Gibbs boys their just reward after a wacky final few miles up in northeast Pennsylvania.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP 15 POWER RANKINGS: JUNE 9th|
|Rank||Driver (First Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Kyle Busch (4)||189||1|
|Not only had a great day at Pocono, but wasn’t the JGR driver pointing fingers and yelling obscenities after the checkered flag. New Kyle Busch, anyone?|
|2||Denny Hamlin (1)||180||4|
|No wonder he struggles in the Chase. He’s used to winning on tracks with three turns instead of four.|
|3||Kurt Busch (2)||179||2|
|So out to lunch at Pocono, he took a detour to central Jersey before coming back just in time to score a sixth-place finish. That’s how you contend for a championship.|
|4||Kevin Harvick (2)||173||3|
|Bet that wasn’t the first time Kevin has been reminded that DeLana wears the firesuit in the family.|
|5||Jimmie Johnson (1)||143||7|
|Yep, Jimmie’s really struggling alright – and he’s got the wins and top-5 finishes to prove it.|
|Following the new Ford slogan to a T: Sell on Monday, Suck on Sunday.|
|If he’d been running worth a crap, he wouldn’t have been apologizing to Kasey Kahne for running into him at the end of the Big One.|
|So happy that Kim doesn’t wear a firesuit.|
|Joey Logano wasn’t the only person Kevin Harvick shook up on Sunday. Quoth Bowyer on the radio: “What are teammates for?” after letting the No. 29 mess up his rhythm, and his chance at a shocking upset evaporated when he hit the wall moments later.|
|Don’t look now, but Summer is almost here; and where there’s Summer, there’s Smoke.|
|2012 can’t get here soon enough.|
|After 20 years of being pre-programmed to say the right thing, it had to feel good to turn into an R-Rated movie-turned-heavyweight fighter all at once. All we were missing was one scary moment of nudity, and Logano would have suddenly turned NC-17.|
|Phillips 66 sign on American Pickers: $500. Tearing up your car on the last lap at Pocono: $50,000. Making it to the finish rimriding the wall with no steering: Priceless.|
|T – 14||Jamie McMurray||73||9|
|Every time the Chase discussion starts to come about, he mails in another stinker.|
|T – 14||David Reutimann||73||11|
|Every Michael Waltrip Racing car spun at least once on Sunday. That’s not the track record you want to set at the tricky triangle…|
|Dropped Out: Martin Truex, Jr. (13), Greg Biffle (15).|
|Also Receiving Votes: Martin Truex, Jr. (71), Carl Edwards (69), Greg Biffle (48), Paul Menard (33), Juan Pablo Montoya (33), A.J. Allmendinger (26), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (10), Kasey Kahne (9), Brad Keselowski (5), Regan Smith (5), Sam Hornish, Jr. (2), David Stremme (1).|
|Writer Voting Panel: Phillip Allaway, Brock Beard, Thomas Bowles, Bryan Keith, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, Vito Pugliese, Mike Ravesi, Kurt Smith, and Matt Taliaferro.|
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