The Irish Hills of Michigan were not the scene of a fuel mileage strategy play this weekend; instead, the drama scenes fizzled in the face of total domination by Denny Hamlin. Not even mystery debris could cloud the ending of a race thoroughly controlled by the No. 11 from start to finish. Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, and others gave it their all, but for this week the Tony went to a Toyota Camry right smack in the heart of Big Three’s Broadway, right near home base of American automotive headquarters in Detroit.
Having scored his fifth win in the last ten races, Hamlin firmly established himself as the favorite to unseat Jimmie Johnson as series champ… but did he also unseat Kyle Busch as the top driver in our rankings? Or was Kurt Busch’s current run of consistency enough to vault him into the number one spot? Further back, of course, there’s the question a legion of Most Popular Driver Fans want to know … was Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s strong seventh-place run enough to pull him back into the top 15?
Check this week’s Power Rankings to find out how our experts voted, deciding whether your favorite drivers sank or swam during a rainy but successful weekend running the 2-mile oval up north.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP 15 POWER RANKINGS: JUNE 16th|
|Rank||Driver (First Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Denny Hamlin (9)||199||2|
|If he stays away from basketball courts or chasing team members around the hauler, chance are it will be a very long summer for the rest of the Sprint Cup field.|
|2||Kurt Busch (1)||184||3|
|With all the rivalries popping up this year, could you imagine if this year’s title came down to Kyle vs. Kurt? This year’s Thanksgiving dinner could come with a choose-your-weapon duel for dessert.|
|Considering he got his first career win at California (err… excuse us) Auto Club Speedway, it’s a total mystery why he continues to struggle at Michigan.|
|Hypocrisy personified: Said he doesn’t appreciate Logano making things personal, then spends half an hour in the media center at Michigan trashing his dad.|
|170 points out of first, three wins so far this season… and he’s down for the count? People who are counting him out are doing so not from statistical analysis, but by wishing, hoping, praying, and jabbing Chad dolls with voodoo pins.|
|No one cares who is standing by as a relief driver for your baby’s birth when your last championship was nine years ago.|
|Who knew joining the Finger Pointing Hall of Fame came with such a strong boost of momentum?|
|Back-to-back top 5’s with July Daytona race just around the corner. This is when Smoke usually catches fire. ← Best cliché, ever.|
|Is it possible that Kenseth will win the title and force another change to the points system, simply by running so pedestrian this year?|
|One of two Fords in the top 10. Oh, well… guess you have to hang your hat on something.|
|Has a remarkable ability to not only bounce back from adversity, but also to not back down from balding bullies.|
|Hope the Aflac duck knows how to calculate Ackerman steering, because no one else seems to be able to get that right over at No. 99 shop.|
|The elusive FR9 was supposedly in Kahne’s car this weekend, although Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster were also reported to have been spotted in the infield at Michigan.|
|How much did losing out on a Pocono win really damage the momentum of this team? It’ll be interesting to see going forward, because so far, early returns say “a lot.”|
|GoDaddy.com ought to make another commercial with Mark in it, just so people remember that he drives the bright green car… not Danica.|
|Dropped Out: Ryan Newman (13), Jamie McMurray (T – 14), David Reutimann (T – 14).|
|Also Receiving Votes: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (43), Juan Pablo Montoya (42), Martin Truex, Jr. (38), A.J. Allmendinger (37), David Reutimann (31), Ryan Newman (26), Jamie McMurray (17), Marcos Ambrose (15), Robby Gordon (5), Regan Smith (3), Boris Said (2), Paul Menard (1), Scott Speed (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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