Daytona International Speedway provided another round of two-by-two racing on Saturday night, a jaunt which also included several big wrecks and a second surprise first-time winner in as many races. David Ragan scored his first Cup series win Saturday night, breaking through in his fifth full-time season and third for major sponsor UPS. It was sweet redemption for the 25-year-old, black-flagged from the lead of the Daytona 500 for changing lanes before passing the start/finish line in a penalty killer that handed the race to pseudo-teammate Trevor Bayne. But while one Roush driver (Ragan) was able to come out on top, another was losing the point lead as Carl Edwards wrecked early and ended the night in 37th place. It was a roller coaster night for almost everybody else, typical of restrictor plate fare while some ugly late-race wrecks, involving two-thirds of the field jumbled up the point standings more than expected.
Edwards lost the point lead on Saturday night – did he also lose the top spot in the Power Rankings this week to new top dawg Kevin Harvick? Further back, Kyle Busch finished the race in the top 5, which has been a rarity at Daytona over the past few races; was that finish enough to leapfrog everyone into first place? And will David Ragan’s first win give him the impetus to climb into the Top 15? Read this week’s poll to see if your favorite driver was pushed to the front when the money was on the line or ended up in a smoking heap in the infield after the final Big One.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP 15 POWER RANKINGS: JULY 6th|
|Rank||Driver (First Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Kevin Harvick (4)||114||5|
|New number one in the points: it makes sense to have him number one in the power rankings.|
|Love him or hate him, you can say this much about Kyle Busch: the man drives a wrecked race car to more top-5 finishes than anyone we’ve ever seen.|
|We don’t know what they’ve put in the water over in the Gordon household these days, but Wonder Boy is suddenly looking half his age nearing 40.|
|4||Matt Kenseth (1)||96||7|
|Crown Royal’s shocking departure last week didn’t exactly give Kenseth incentive to jump out of line and win for them Saturday night. Talk about giving one away…|
|5||Carl Edwards (1)||88||1|
|Someone better get Carl’s signature on the dotted line, stat, at Roush Fenway before there’s another engine failure, carbon monoxide poisoning, or sponsor departure. Not exactly the best sales job going on here…|
|Who knew a divorce could spark so much controversy amongst fans, drivers, and between the media themselves.|
|Didn’t exactly return the favor to Junior for helping him win at Talladega earlier this year.|
|Two straight top 10s and now a trip to Kentucky, where he is undefeated. Is he finally turning things around… and is it too little, too late to save his job?|
|The disappointing follow-up season to Hamlin’s near championship run continues.|
|10||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||55||9|
|The sky is falling! It’s all Jimmie Johnson’s fault! Plate racing sucks! Boy, does Steve Letarte have one heck of a crucial week on his hands.|
|Proving once again that anyone can win a restrictor plate race.|
|Worried about Red Bull not paying attention… guess that’s not going to happen until they miss the Chase in September.|
|At least he didn’t get into another argument with the King after all of the replays of the 200th win on SPEED this past week.|
|Can’t ever buy a break at Daytona… but can he buy a sponsor for 2012?|
|Shocking but true: now arguably the next driver in line to grab his first Cup win, possibly as soon as Kentucky this weekend. Come back next week, when our topic will be: “The end of the world is at hand.”|
|Dropped Out:Ryan Newman (11), Tony Stewart (12), Marcos Ambrose (T – 14), Brad Keselowski (T – 14).|
|Others Receiving Votes: Tony Stewart (38), Brad Keselowski (33), Ryan Newman (33), Greg Biffle (20), Marcos Ambrose (16), Martin Truex, Jr. (15), David Gilliland (13), Juan Pablo Montoya (13), Mark Martin (4), Brian Vickers (3), Landon Cassill (2).|
|Writer Voters Include: Phillip Allaway, Tom Bowles, Bryan Keith, Tony Lumbis, Vito Pugliese, Mike Neff and Garrett Horton.|
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