400 miles at Dover looked like it was going to be a battle with Mother Nature; instead, Sunday turned into a war with Goodyear. As the race unfolded, both tires and track position took center stage, the rubbering of the racetrack making it difficult to pass and leading towards a pit call that produced an unlikely winner. Matt Kenseth used a two-tire strategy on the last stop of the race to take control, putting his car out in clean air while running away from the day’s dominant drivers: Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. Further back, feel-good stories were the order of the day, filling out most of the top portion of Dover’s final results. Brian Vickers returned to the track where he had to sit out his first race last season because of health issues and turned in a top-5 performance, easily his best during a rebuilding year with Red Bull Racing. Meanwhile, Marcos Ambrose came oh-so-close again to his first oval win when he ended up on the podium with a third-place run.
While point leader Edwards led the second-most laps of the event, he came home a disappointing seventh. Was that enough for the pollsters to keep him in the top spot for another week? Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus actually made a mistake which put the most dominant car of the event in ninth by the end of the day; will that hurt his driver’s position, too? And did Kenseth’s second win of the year give him enough momentum to reach the top half of the rankings… a major step considering he wasn’t even in the top 15 last week? Check out this week’s poll to see if your driver was able to make it through the treachery of the Monster Mile unscathed by our experts.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP 15 POWER RANKINGS: MAY 18th|
|Rank||Driver (First Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Carl Edwards (4)||117||1|
|Really good at backflipping off his car. But helping other people flip? Boy, that’s a nasty habit that’s got to stop.|
|T – 2||Kyle Busch (1)||110||2|
|Made it all the way from shotgun on the field into the top 5 Sunday. And he didn’t even have to knock anyone out of the way or into the wall to do it! Such progress.|
|T – 2||Jimmie Johnson (1)||110||3|
|Not exactly a day that will live in infamy but May 15th, 2011 is the first documented case of Chad Knaus making a mistake – at least one where he didn’t try and cheat.|
|The No. 29 crew might have Harvick’s back against Kyle Busch, but how do they not beat his ass when he whines so much about pit stops?|
|Wasn’t exactly upside down and on fire at the end of the Cup race, but he was just as hot under the collar after the four-tire call left him sitting with a disappointing sixth-place finish.|
|6||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||85||6|
|What’s ironic about Earnhardt needing the Fan Vote to make the All-Star Race is this year’s the one where he’s actually running good enough to be included on merit.|
|That’s the old Kenseth we know and love. Qualifies 24th, lingers in the shadows until the last few laps, then shows up at the front of the line to cash his winning check.|
|8||Martin Truex, Jr.||55||T – 14|
|Maybe they should have fired half of his pit crew before the season started.|
|When Miles The Monster acts like Glenda the Good Witch and you STILL crash… it’s just not your day.|
|Even at 52, driving the worst Hendrick car, managing a befuddled crew chief and with his crew patiently waiting for Kasey Kahne this guy still finds a way to fight through it all and make it work.|
|Played the role of invisible man last weekend; but trust us, at the All-Star Race Juan Pablo Montoya will know exactly where he is at all times.|
|Speeding down pit road was his fault. A bad handling car was Mike Ford’s fault. Sometimes, when the chemistry ends it’s nobody’s fault. So why can’t JGR man up already and let this marriage go?|
|For those worried about Tony Stewart’s summer streak, need we remind you … it’s not summer yet?|
|T – 14||Kasey Kahne||40||7|
|At least he was able to stand up and make coherent sentences after the end of his day this weekend.|
|T – 14||Brad Keselowski||40||NR|
|Two races since Kurt made him sound like a second-tier driver – and two races where he finished ahead of the 2004 champion.|
|Dropped Out: Regan Smith (12), Jeff Gordon (13), A.J. Allmendinger (T – 14).|
|Also Receiving Votes: Marcos Ambrose (39), Jeff Gordon (37), Brian Vickers (29), A.J. Allmendinger (22), Regan Smith (20), Jeff Burton (11), Kurt Busch (10), Jamie McMurray (10), David Reutimann (8), Bobby Labonte (7), David Ragan (7), Juan Pablo Montoya (6), Paul Menard (5), Mike Bliss (1), Joey Logano (1), David Gilliland (1).|
|Writer Voters Include: Phillip Allaway, Bryan Keith, Tom Bowles, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff and Garrett Horton. (No Vito Pugliese this week)|
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