Frontstretch Staff · Wednesday September 22, 2010
The Chase began with racing at Loudon that looked like a local short track on a Saturday night, drivers in the top 12 bouncing off everyone around them like pinballs – not princesses trying to play it safe. Instead of the boring beginning to the playoffs we’ve come to expect, it was a rough-and-tumble 300 laps where more than half the title contenders were involved in incidents before gas took center stage; and when all was said and done, Tony Stewart’s tank came up one lap shy to make Clint Bowyer a Cinderella story.
Of course, while Bowyer won the race, it was Hamlin who took Round 1 of the war to increase his lead atop the standings to 35 points. But in our Power Rankings, was that enough to elevate him over regular season champ Kevin Harvick? Further back, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth had bad luck befall them. Could ugly weekends cost them a spot in the latest edition of our top 15? And what did Jamie McMurray’s strong run do to his ranking as the highest finishing non-Chaser? Read the latest poll this week and find out if our experts felt your driver was dining on lobster after Sunday’s race… or if he was left with lumpy chowder.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP 15 POWER RANKINGS: SEPTEMBER 22nd|
|Rank||Driver (First Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Kevin Harvick (6)||206||1|
|We’re not sure how to handle Harvick’s crew this weekend; say congrats on a job well done, or give a bunch of bear hugs, slip ‘em the 1-800 number for Emotional Abuse and wish them luck on all the therapy they’ll need in the offseason.|
|2||Denny Hamlin (3)||196||4|
|Even a spin and contact with the No. 48 could not deter him from a shot at the win in week one. Speed, composure, and confidence – could Johnson’s reign be over?|
|3||Clint Bowyer (2)||183||9|
|If he does somehow manage to win this thing, we can tell you this much: half of the fans will love it, and half will absolutely despise it.|
|Old Kyle would have been done after Sunday – let’s see where new Kyle ends up.|
|What a difference a decade makes for Tony Stewart. When he ran out of gas as a rookie, he would have punched his own mother in the face. Now, he knows better to do that in front of cameras when he needs a sponsor. Can someone just call Ms. Stewart and make sure she’s OK? We’re worried.|
|Even with Jimmie spinning, having pit problems, and Martin blowing tires, still the second-best Hendrick car at New Hampshire to Dale Jr. Can this guy ever win again?|
|Door jobs won’t do it – the fabled FR9 and new suspension package looked pretty pedestrian on Sunday.|
|Still the favorite until the fat lady sings. Or is it when the Fed Ex truck eats his dust?|
|9||Kurt Busch||123||T – 7|
|Ran into everything but the ambulance in New Hampshire.|
|10||Jeff Burton||119||T – 7|
|He was about to start top 5-ing everybody to death…right before he ran out of gas. Running conservative would have him solidly in the top 5 right now.|
|Acting like a guy who wants to make a mockery of the Chase he missed. And you know what, the way this car and team is running… they might just do it.|
|Newman spent the summer making sure teammate Tony Stewart’s team got back on track enough to make the Chase. Too bad he couldn’t have helped out on Sunday with an extra gallon of gas.|
|13||Juan Pablo Montoya||77||12|
|What a difference a year makes. One year ago he was battling Mark Martin down to the last lap for a win at Loudon and a chance at a championship. Now, they’re “dueling” for 16th in points.|
|That was some momentum train he rode from Richmond to Loudon … he might has well have gotten off the train and walked. Anything, anything would be better than the “strength” his team showed on Sunday.|
|No truth to the rumor yet Allmendinger demanded Best Buy purchase the new LCD screen at Charlotte Motor Speedway for his backyard.|
|Dropped Out: Matt Kenseth (11).|
|Also Receiving Votes: Matt Kenseth (61), David Reutimann (41), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (37), Kasey Kahne (30), Mark Martin (21), Sam Hornish, Jr. (20), Brad Keselowski (18), Martin Truex, Jr. (14), Joey Logano (13), Marcos Ambrose (9), Paul Menard (5), Regan Smith (2), Dave Blaney (1).|
|Writer Voting Panel: Phillip Allaway, Brock Beard, Thomas Bowles, Bryan Keith, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, Vito Pugliese, Mike Ravesi, Kurt Smith, Garrett Horton, and Matt Taliaferro.|
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