Frontstretch Staff · Wednesday November 17, 2010
The penultimate round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season is now complete. Denny Hamlin dominated the Phoenix event, but a long green flag run at the end combined with poor fuel mileage for the No. 11 Toyota conspired to relegate Hamlin to a 12th-place finish. Carl Edwards, on the other hand, was able to squeeze out every last drop from the No. 99 Ford, taking his first checkered flag in almost two full years as a reward. Jimmie Johnson had to work hard to stretch his own fuel, but also managed to make it to the finish while scoring a top-5 result on Hamlin – a shell-shocking final chapter that switched momentum around on both sides. The higher spot in the finishing order means the champ now trails his challenger by only 15 points heading into the season finale in Homestead, Florida.
Of course, our Frontstretch Power Rankings can often be an entirely different story. Was Johnson’s fuel conservation effort enough to vault him over Hamlin and into the lead in this poll? How much did the voters penalize Hamlin for his finish, even though he was dominant throughout the rest of the race? Did Edwards make a run at the top spot by scoring his first win of the season? Was Joey Logano rewarded for scoring his third straight top-5 and fifth straight top-10? And finally, were Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman’s strong finishes enough to get them back into the top 15? Read this week’s Power Rankings to find out where our experts rank your driver with just one race left in the season to make an impression.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP 15 POWER RANKINGS: NOVEMBER 17th|
|Rank||Driver (First Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Denny Hamlin (6)||195||1|
|Somebody might want to remind Denny that he has the most wins, won at Homestead a year ago, and needs to drop the Dead Man Walking act.|
|2||Jimmie Johnson (3)||190||2|
|Kinda starting to get that feeling we already know how this one is going to turn out.|
|3||Kevin Harvick (1)||185||3|
|Seemed bewildered by his inability to abuse his pit crew Sunday.|
|4||Carl Edwards||156||T – 10|
|Now combines back flips with running into a throng of sundrenched drunks. Soon he, too, will need ACL surgery.|
|Last five finishes have been 7th, 6th, 5th, 4th, and 3rd, which means… he will win at Homestead and totally screw it up for anybody who lays down a bet for 2nd.|
|If you could only combine the best of Greg Biffle’s Chase with the best of Carl Edwards’, you’d have a championship-contending Ford team in Homestead. Not to worry, though, at the rate we’re going I’m sure that’ll all be allowed by 2012.|
|7||Jeff Gordon||127||T – 8|
|The way Gordon’s been treated the last few weeks, he might as well call out sick for the season finale. It’s not like anyone at Hendrick’s going to care.|
|8||Mark Martin||114||T – 5|
|Will a 13th-place finish in points make up for having to give up his best minds to help Junior run 22nd?|
|9||Kyle Busch||110||T – 10|
|Wonder if he gave his fuel pressure gauge both fingers at Phoenix.|
|10||Matt Kenseth||105||T – 5|
|Now joins David Ragan as the only Roush-Fenway drivers not to win a race this year. Robbie Reiser, where are you?|
|11||Clint Bowyer||100||T – 8|
|If not for that 150-point penalty… he’d be in fifth place and still completely out of it.|
|T – 12||Tony Stewart||86||12|
|Said repeatedly he has no time to do Indy even with Chevrolet coming back to race in the 500. That is, until they move the start time back for the Coca-Cola 600 to accommodate him…|
|T – 12||Kurt Busch||86||NR|
|With as often as he has been spinning out and pancaking it, perhaps that drag racing thing might not be such a bad idea after all.|
|Apparently, NASCAR now allows one “water bottle-throwing” mulligan per season. It’s like a champion’s provisional or something … so McMurray better watch out! He used his up before Homestead.|
|Owes some holiday Thank You notes to: Phoenix (only track where he’s run top 3 this year – twice), his wife (for not going into Labor during the race) and Juan Pablo Montoya (for not spinning him out when the No. 42 ran out of gas. They have a “great” relationship, you know.)|
|Dropped Out: Paul Menard (13), Jeff Burton (14), A.J. Allmendinger (15).|
|Also Receiving Votes: Juan Pablo Montoya (56), Jeff Burton (55), A.J. Allmendinger (51), David Reutimann (23), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (16), Paul Menard (13), Martin Truex, Jr. (12), Casey Mears (5), David Ragan (2), Marcos Ambrose (2), Bobby Labonte (2), Regan Smith (1), Aric Almirola (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.|
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