Frontstretch Staff · Wednesday October 19, 2011
The Chase has reached its midway point and the primary players in this year’s title hunt have now come to the forefront. Conspicuous by his omission is five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson, whose violent wreck relegated him to a 34th place finish and all but ended his title hopes for this season. The four drivers who most likely are going to be vying for the title at Homestead are Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch. The other drivers are more than 20 points out and will have a very difficult time making it to the top spot. Kenseth took the win from Busch on Saturday night and emerged from the shadows of the Chase into true contender status.
Will Johnson’s wreck and precipitous fall in the point standings hurt his ranking? Is Kenseth going to make it to the top spot in the poll thanks to his third win of the season? Did Edwards hang onto the top spot in the ranks by virtue of his third place finish Saturday night? Read this week’s Top 15 Power Rankings to find out if your driver shined under the lights at Charlotte or if his bulb fizzled.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP 15 POWER RANKINGS: OCTOBER 19th|
|Rank||Driver (First Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Carl Edwards (5)||119||1|
|Heading to Talladega in the driver’s seat for a Sprint Cup title. Needs to leave there without the Ricky Bobby impression, flipping over or starting a 20-car wreck to keep it that way… and considering he’s done all of that, repeatedly in the last three years at ‘Dega it won’t be easy.|
|T – 2||Kevin Harvick||111||2|
|Might be second in points but better start threatening to win if he is going to take home the big check at the end.|
|T – 2||Matt Kenseth (1)||111||7|
|That “sponsor wanted” interview disguised as a Victory Lane chat is the most animated Kenseth has been in years. Now, if he can only do that the next five weeks a championship will be right around the corner…|
|In the best position he’s ever been at the halfway point of the Chase. Now if he can just survive Talladega this could get interesting.|
|Wins are nice, but schizophrenia doesn’t earn you a Chase championship. It’s been proven; can Smoke start churning out the consistency he needs to contend?|
|He was 29 points out after two races, and made most of it back up in two weeks. Yet, some people still think that being 35 markers out with five races left means he is done for sure this time.|
|Three straight top-5 finishes shows he’s doing everything possible to get a Red Bull investor to rip up 150 pink slips.|
|Providing the giant championship tease teams that are one year away from the title are wont to do.|
|9||Marcos Ambrose||70||T – 13|
|Making it look like RPM has really started to get a handle on this thing again. He just might snag a win before the season wraps up.|
|10||Kurt Busch||62||T – 8|
|Wanted: Full-time crew chief for cantankerous, moody 30-something on the downside of his career. Must be able to handle frequent shouting matches, unpredictable mood swings and an ego the size of China. Oh, and your salary will always be one-tenth of the driver you work with. Who says you can’t get a job in this economy?|
|11||Ryan Newman||58||T – 13|
|With all the Silly Season craziness, easy to forget Newman is a 2011 free agent. His team? Still searching for sponsorship.|
|12||Jeff Gordon||55||T – 8|
|Woulda, shoulda, coulda, but in the end it just wasn’t meant to be his year.|
|Still looking like a threat to win a race and when his teammate is running well, too, the possibility seems even greater.|
|14||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||41||T – 11|
|The stars are lining up for Earnhardt to be the top finishing Hendrick driver in the Chase. Who saw that coming?|
|Hamlin could win two consecutive races with every other Chaser dropping out on the pace laps and most likely would still not be leading the points.|
|Dropped Out: Clint Bowyer (T – 11), Greg Biffle (T – 13).|
|Others Receiving Votes: Greg Biffle (38), David Ragan (29), Clint Bowyer (16), Juan Pablo Montoya (8), Joey Logano (6), Jeff Burton (5), Paul Menard (4), Regan Smith (3), Martin Truex, Jr. (3), Trevor Bayne (2), J.J. Yeley (1), Dan Wheldon (1).|
|Writer Voters Include: Phillip Allaway, Tom Bowles, Bryan Keith, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff and Garrett Horton.|
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