The Frontstretch: NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 Up-And-Coming Drivers by Frontstretch Staff -- Wednesday July 27, 2011

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NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 Up-And-Coming Drivers

Frontstretch Staff · Wednesday July 27, 2011


The Cup Series has the week off so the Power Rankings turns its focus this Wednesday towards a different subset of drivers: the ones trying desperately to make it there. There are rising stars from the Nationwide Series, Camping World Truck Series, K&N and ARCA all trying hard to climb the ladder and reach the pinnacle of their chosen profession, battling for the best future opportunity while simply trying to survive through a trying 2011 for developing talent. Some of them have been competing at their current level for some time while others are gradually making their way up the ranks after proving themselves in each series along the way.

So which one of them, underdogs and favorites alike, has made the biggest impression so far this season? Check out the Top 15 Power Rankings this week to see if your driver made the list or if they still have some work to do to get their name out there.

How The Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football — writers on staff will vote for the Top 20 on a 20-19-18-17-16-15… 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first place driver, 19 for their second, and so on. In the end, Mike Neff calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and … voila! You have one batch of power rankings to serve to our fans.

Rank Driver (First Place Votes) Points Previous Rank (April)
1 Austin Dillon (3) 70 2
Needs some training from Carl Edwards on how to handle basic gymnastics moves. But the racing? He’s got that one down pat.
2 Justin Allgaier 67 3
Wonder if Verizon will look back in five years and think A) They should have brokered a deal for the iPhone sooner; B) They probably should have kept their sponsorship with Justin Allgaier or C) All of the above.
3 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 64 4
What a difference a year makes… from nearly unemployed to someone who could easily be the 2011 Nationwide Series champion.
4 Cole Whitt 51 1
Gotta wonder if he’s the only reason Red Bull is considering staying around as a sponsor after they get out of the team ownership role.
5 Parker Kligerman 50 9
Working to create the “Penske Abandoned Me In My Prime” club this offseason. Possible founding members include Brendan Gaughan, Justin Allgaier and Travis Kvapil.
6 Timothy Peters 49 5
Quiet, mannerly, and keeps his car in one piece. It’s the anti-Kyle Busch!
7 Ty Dillon 46 7
Better get this wrecking people to win races stuff out of his system now because the big boys won’t put up with that junk.
8 Johnny Sauter 36 NR
Making the most of an opportunity to rebuild his career in the Truck Series; but to make it all the way back to Cup, he needs to follow through and capture this year’s title.
9 Aric Almirola 32 8
Kelly Bires didn’t win and he got fired. Aric Almirola doesn’t win in JR Motorsports equipment… and he’s universally praised? Someone explain.
10 Elliott Sadler 29 NR
Would like to shake the label of “that guy who lost the Daytona 500 before the rains came” with “that guy who went back to Nationwide and won a championship.”
11 Trevor Bayne 27 6
If he really did have Lyme Disease, what he is doing in the car at this point is nothing short of amazing.
12 Reed Sorenson 26 T – 14
One of just three Nationwide-only drivers to win this season. Hey, that’s more than he ever did at the Cup level…
13 James Buescher 20 NR
Most people hate their in-laws. Buescher? He just drives for them…
14 Matt Crafton 18 13
Good at collecting points, but needs to get better at winning races if there’s ever a hope and a prayer he can move up.
T – 15 Kelly Bires 17 NR
$139,830 isn’t a bad bit of coin for working seven days out of the year.
T – 15 Darrell Wallace, Jr. 17 NR
Bringing planking to a Victory Lane near you.
Dropped Out: Brian Scott (10), Josh Wise (T – 11), Clay Rogers (T – 11), Ricky Carmichael (T – 14).
Also Receiving Votes: Ron Hornaday, Jr. 16, Ricky Carmichael 15, Jason Leffler 14, Landon Cassill 14, Max Gresham 14, Jeremy Clements 12, Greg Pursley 11, Danica Patrick 11, Chad Hackenbracht 9, Brian Scott 8, Ryan Truex 8, Nelson Piquet, Jr. 8, Keith Rocco 8, Brett Moffitt 7, J.R. Fitzpatrick 7, Philip Morris 7, Andrew Ranger 6, Michael Annett 5, Coleman Pressley 5, Moses Smith 5, Joey Coulter 5, Brandon McReynolds 4, Brennan Poole 4, Justin Lofton 3, Sergio Pena 3, George Brunnhoelzl III 3, Patrick Sheltra 2, Scott Steckly 2, Johanna Long 2, Danny O’Quinn 1, C.E. Falk 1, Travis Pastrana 1.
Writer Voting Panel: Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, Bryan Keith, Phillip Allaway, Tom Bowles, and Garrett Horton.

Contact Mike Neff

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


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07/27/2011 11:38 AM

I love how you have Sadler as an “Up and Coming” driver. I mean, it’s great that he has rebuilt his career but he is not “Up and Coming”. And Ron Hornaday was one point off of making the top 15.

What about Timmy Hill, Blake Koch, and Charles Lewandowski? All challenging for rookie of the year for nationwide, yet none on this list!!!

Maybe Joey Coulter, Nelson Piquet, Miguel Paludo??? I mean come on, these are all guys looking to make it in the sport they love! Most of these guys are in sub-par equipment. So some recognition would be nice.

07/27/2011 03:41 PM

Number 9—I was wondering that myself.


Contact Mike Neff

Recent articles from Mike Neff:

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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!