The Frontstretch: NASCAR Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Atlanta II by Summer Bedgood -- Wednesday September 5, 2012

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Atlanta II

Summer Bedgood · Wednesday September 5, 2012


Frontstretch Power Rankings
We're getting close! The 10 race stretch to the champinonship known as "the Chase" is now only a week away, and Atlanta still left many more questions raised than answered. Hamlin's back-to-back wins were almost a forethought to the wild card spot that were occupying headlines. However, Hamlin was indeed the driver in Victory Lane and is making some noise of his own heading to his home track in Richmond. 
Did Hamlin top our list with back-to-back wins? How did the wild card drivers fare in our rankings? Keep reading to find out:  

How The Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football -- our expert stable of NASCAR writers, both on staff and from other major publications 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, Summer Bedgood calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and ... here you go!

Rank Driver (First Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Jimmie Johnson (2) 121 1
 Even with Hamlin winning the past two races and bad race for Johnson in Atlanta, he's still at the top of our list. Either this year's championship is going to look very similar to many of the last or we're going to look very stupid. Summer Bedgood,
T-2 Denny Hamlin (3)120 T-4
 Apparently Darian's championship advice didn't translate to Denny correctly. You're supposed to catch fire during the Chase, not leading up to it. Tony Lumbis,
T-2 Brad Keselowski (1) 120 6
 The most infamous water bottle who ever lived. A protege of Keselowski. He must be so proud. Summer Bedgood,
4 Matt Kenseth 119 T-4
 The worst kept secret in NASCAR, at least for this year, was finally made official on Tuesday. Now what in the world are we going to talk about when it comes to Kenseth? Certainly not the fact that he's going into silent but deadly mode when it comes to the championship. Kelly Crandall,
5 Dale Earnhardt Jr.116 2
 The weekend just shows how far the #88 has come. Out to lunch on Friday, qualified terribly, came up through the field and got a top-10. Phil Allaway,
6 Greg Biffle107 3
 He'll lose the points lead after Richmond most likely, but its likely that no one will notice. Like Kenseth, he has a tendency to lead with quiet grace. The Chase pretty much silences those kinds of drivers once and for all. Whether or not that's a good thing is up to you to decide. Summer Bedgood,
7 Martin Truex Jr.1048
 Nothing, absolutely nothing can be said to Truex that will make him feel better about another race win getting away. Kelly Crandall,
8 Kyle Busch81 12
 Looking very good for a Chase berth. Yes, he's never won this Richmond race, but he's nearly money in the bank for a top-5. That's more than enough to get in. Phil Allaway,
9 Clint Bowyer777
 Effectively limped his way into the Chase on Sunday night, but that's all it takes. Will he have any say in the championship? Probably not. But this team was heads and shoulders above where everyone, including myself, thought they would be. Summer Bedgood,
10 Jeff Gordon76 9
 Stated he wished that he used his bumper at the end of the race. Funny how he feels that is ok for him to do but hasn't been very happy when others have done the same to him over the years. Tony Lumbis,
11 Kevin Harvick 75 15
 Fitting that Harvick's spotter made the SportsCenter sound when he took the lead on Sunday. Only problem is, after leading 258 laps between the Nationwide and Cup race and failing to win either one, Harvick was primed for a spot on the "Not Top 10" list. Kelly Crandall,
12 Kasey Kahne 65 10
 Was very confident for the Cup race Saturday, then was invisible when he had a chance to get in the top-10 on merit. Not good. Phil Allaway,
13 Tony Stewart 53 13
 Losing Office Depot has to suck. Seeing Hamlin succeed so much with his championship winning crew chief from last year has to suck even more. And to add insult to injury, he still doesn't have that helmet back! Oy vey, Stewart ... Summer Bedgood,
14 Marcos Ambrose 48 11
 Dark horse Chase runner? Possibly. Dark horse championship runner? Three words: No. Freaking. Way. Summer Bedgood,
15 Paul Menard 46NR
 Sneaky sneaky. Like John Turturro's character in Mr. Deeds. Phil Allaway, 
Dropped Out: Carl Edwards
Others Receiving Votes: Carl Edwards (27), Joey Logano (24), Mark Martin (22), Ryan Newman (22), Kurt Busch (16), Sam Hornish Jr. (13), Regan Smith (7), Jeff Burton (6), Jamie McMurray (2), Brian Vickers (1), Juan Pablo Montoya (1), Trevor Bayne (1). 
Who Voted: Phil Allaway,; Carolyn Brewster, NASCAR Illustrated; Kelly Crandall,; Summer Bedgood,; Dustin Long, Athlon Sports; Tony Lumbis,; Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports.

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