The Frontstretch: Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Martinsville-2 by Frontstretch Staff -- Wednesday October 27, 2010

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Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Martinsville-2

Frontstretch Staff · Wednesday October 27, 2010


Frontstretch Power Rankings

Sunday’s racing at the small, half-mile paperclip in Martinsville was truly spectacular, reminding us why it’s the only racetrack remaining on NASCAR’s schedule every year since the sport’s inaugural season of 1949. Polesitter Denny Hamlin was certainly not the best car all day, but he was the best when it counted, mounting an impressive comeback that included 460 circuits in between laps led to take the victory. For the rest of the afternoon, the RCR cars had been the class of the field, running strong until team infighting might have assisted with them not taking home the checkered flag that was well within their grasp. Will the heavyweight battle between Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick carry over to Talladega this Sunday? That’s one of many surprising developments we’ll be following from a weekend at the short track, including Dale Earnhardt, Jr. leading 90 laps while Ken Schrader returned to the Cup Series to lead seven circuits himself.

But as much as things change at this type of oval … the more they stay the same. For when the smoke cleared on a difficult day, it was the fifth-place finisher who held on to his precarious but familiar position atop the Sprint Cup mountain despite not leading a lap. Jimmie Johnson’s point lead was cut to six, however, leaving Hamlin looming large in the rear view mirror with the equivalent of Russian Roulette at Talladega dead ahead.

Was Johnson’s “rough” Sunday, his seventeenth straight top 10 at Martinsville enough to drop him from the top spot in our power rankings? Or did Hamlin’s sudden resurgence translate into a move forward to first? Further back, how much did the invisible performance of Tony Stewart hurt him in the voters’ eyes? And were Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle simply able to hold onto a spot in the poll after terrible runs? Check out this week’s Top 15 and find out if your driver got to take home their own version of a grandfather clock… or if they were stuck sucking down TUMS after one too many hot dogs.

Rank Driver (First Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Jimmie Johnson (5) 194 1
Is a fifth-place finish enough to say “Five Straight Titles” four weeks from now? Certainly not with Mr. Hamlin breathing down your neck and Mr. Gordon wanting to spot you a punch in the face.
2 Denny Hamlin (4) 194 2
Pulling his best Joe Namath impression by following through on a bold, underdog prediction. All that was missing from a shocking Martinsville come-from-behind victory is drinking too much champagne and kissing Suzy Kolber on TV later that night.
3 Kevin Harvick (1) 180 3
Finally has something in common with Kyle Busch: they have both managed to piss off Jeff Burton.
4 Kyle Busch 167 4
Should he escape the carnage at Talladega and the Nos. 11 or 48 don’t – he will actually be right back in the title hunt.
5 Jeff Gordon 136 6
There was a lot of Miller Lite and some awkward-looking ’80s sunglasses thrown out of the Gordon family household this week. And someone says the Hendrick drivers are a bunch of “pretty boys…” On a side note, how much longer is this guy going to let J.J. push him around before he loses it? Five years? Six? Seven?
6 Carl Edwards 119 8
With the way Roush cars run at Talladega, he has to be cussing out that broken distributor at California. Would haves, could haves, should haves…
7 Jamie McMurray 118 7
Talladega’s coming up, which will end up just making for your typical four-win, 13th-place point standing season for McMurray. Wait… what?
T – 8 Tony Stewart 116 5
Virginia State Police have issued an APB for Stewart after his invisible performance last Sunday.
T – 8 Jeff Burton 116 13
Has been in position to legitimately win three races in the Chase – but is just about completely out of it. Maybe that’s why he was so cranky at Kevin.
10 Mark Martin 113 12
Tell us again how Jeff Gordon’s getting the AARP sponsorship instead of this guy? Someone needs to organize a trade with GoDaddy.
11 Matt Kenseth 88 10
Amazing to think that at this time seven months ago, Kenseth was just one ill-timed bump on Jeff Gordon from scoring a win. Now, he couldn’t even see the front with X-Ray Vision, Clint Bowyer’s “illegal” rear end, and a little bit too much Crown Royal.
12 Kurt Busch 86 11
Hoping Busch isn’t thinking about going into politics after NASCAR… because he is a horrible liar.
13 Joey Logano 76 NR
Bringing his Halloween treat bag with him to ‘Dega, knowing fans still mistakenly confuse him for a child and hand out free candy.
14 Greg Biffle 69 9
Look at it this way, folks: at least he’s not Clint Bowyer.
15 A.J. Allmendinger 57 NR
Was not complaining about this engine on Sunday compared to last week – especially considering on Thursday, he didn’t even have one.
Dropped Out: Clint Bowyer (14), Ryan Newman (15).
Also Receiving Votes: Clint Bowyer (54), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (45), Juan Pablo Montoya (42), Ryan Newman (35), David Ragan (22), Brad Keselowski (20), Paul Menard (16), Kasey Kahne (11), Regan Smith (7), David Reutimann (6), Ken Schrader (5), Robby Gordon (5), Marcos Ambrose (5), Sam Hornish, Jr. (3), Martin Truex, Jr. (1).
Writer Voting Panel: Phillip Allaway, Brock Beard, Thomas Bowles, Bryan Keith, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, Vito Pugliese, Kurt Smith, Garrett Horton, and Matt Taliaferro.

Contact Mike Neff

Wednesday on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … Gordon Going Softie, Fans Faking Martinsville Love And Innocent Victims
How Quickly We Forget: Martinsville Manages to Fog and Jog Some Memories
Mirror Driving: Who’s Got The Chase Edge? Is Hornaday A Hall of Famer? And R-P-M
Beyond The Cockpit: Shelby Howard On 2011 Plans, CoT Development, More
Top Ten Christmas Gift Exchanges Amongst NASCAR Personalities for 2010
Carey and Coffey: It’s a Bizarre NASCAR World… Especially When Dale Jr.‘s Involved
The Frontstretch Foto Funnies! Martinsville, October 2010

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Swan Racing Announces Restructuring, No. 26 & No. 30 ‘Sold’ Off
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Truckin’ Thursdays: Lessons Learned Just Two Races In
Fantasy Insider: Team Revelations For NASCAR’s Short Tracks



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Contact Mike Neff

Recent articles from Mike Neff:

Thinkin' Out Loud – The Off Week Season Review
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Want to find out more about Mike Neff? Maybe see all the articles he's written here at the Frontstetch? Check out his article archive and bio page then!