The Irish Hills of Michigan once again produced a fuel-mileage finish that will have people buzzing for weeks. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s strategic win – one that came packaged with a little luck – was enough to move him up the rankings. But did he knock off rival Kyle Busch? We’ll tell you this much; for the first time in months, Busch is not alone atop the charts. Meanwhile, Matt Kenseth continues to climb in the rankings and seems to be on the verge of becoming Chase eligible. Tony Stewart also had a strong run in Michigan behind Kenseth, but lost two spots to two impressive underdogs.
Who were those surprises, and which Penske Racing driver is just barely receiving votes these days? Read on to see if you agree or disagree with the latest choices by the Frontstretch writers.
How the Rankings are Calculated: Frontstretch does their power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football – writers on our 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 the Power Rankings from our dedicated staff.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP-15 POWER RANKINGS: JUNE 18, 2008|
|Rank||Driver (First-Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Kyle Busch (5)||183||1|
|Now that he’s got the frequent flyer miles he needed, Busch can take his trip to Europe for free – and finally focus on winning the championship that matters.|
|1||Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1)||183||4|
|In the Junior vs Busch rivalry, it’s about time a bullet got fired back; the only question now is how much more ammo is coming behind it.|
|3||Carl Edwards (2)||173||3|
|This week’s AFLAC trivia question is when’s the last time one of the five Roush cars haven’t messed up a pit stop? It’s been a while.|
|Rusty Wallace said of Dale Earnhardt‘s consistency in 1993, “he just keeps puttin’ around like a John Deere tractor.” I guess that would mean Burton is puttin’ around like a bright orange Case tractor?|
|5||Kasey Kahne (1)||160||5|
|Not only is he winning races, but he’s consistently fast every week now. Could be in line to peak at the right time during the Chase.|
|6||Matt Kenseth (1)||140||9|
|Finally, had a car that stood a legitimate chance at winning because it was actually fast.|
|Chad Knaus has been doing road-course fuel strategies for two weeks; now, it will actually apply.|
|Would win a bunch of these races if he didn’t need to pit, or have an engine, or tires.|
|Aside from Robby Gordon, nobody wants to get to Sonoma faster than this guy – and that’s not just because he’s from the area, either.|
|Did Hamlin even race this past weekend?|
|Definitely feeling the pressure now that Amp has one-upped Red Bull.|
|If this is where Ragan’s going to spend his summer – planted squarely on the Chase bubble – I hope he’s borrowing a little Crown Royal from Jamie McMurray to calm the nerves.|
|Finally snapped out of his spring slump; could the summer heat be far behind?|
|The rising cost of gas prices isn’t just hurting the economy; it’s killing the Shell/Pennzoil Chevy’s Chase chances.|
|15||Martin Truex Jr.||48||NR|
|The push for a big free-agent contract can start any day now.|
|Explain to me again why this team has trouble finding sponsorship? Seriously, the fact that they don’t is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with the sport right now.|
|Dropped Out: Mark Martin (15)|
|Also Receiving Votes: Mark Martin (32), Clint Bowyer (27), Jamie McMurray (26), Kurt Busch (25), Bobby Labonte (16), Elliott Sadler (15), Dave Blaney (13), AJ Allmendinger (11), Ryan Newman (10), David Gilliland (3), David Reutimann (2), Sam Hornish Jr. (1)|
|Who Voted: Ren Jonsin, Tom Bowles, Cami Starr, Mike Neff, Kim DeHaven, Tony Lumbis, Matt Taliaferro, Vito Pugliese, Bryan Davis Keith and Doug Turnbull|
About the author
What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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