The Chicagoland race was held at night for the first time in its eight-year history, but the cool temperatures didn’t stop the heated action on the racetrack during the final few laps of the event. Kyle Busch‘s stunning pass of Jimmie Johnson was one for the ages, and his seventh win of the season was rewarded in our poll by becoming a unanimous number one pick atop the charts. In the meantime, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick posted solid finishes to make large moves up the rankings this week – while Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton had precipitous drops after another week of poor showings.
But where, exactly, did those drivers land – and which one dropped out for the first time in several weeks? To find out more about where the dust settled after our writers were finished with their stuffed Chicago-style pizzas, read on for this week’s Power Rankings and analysis.
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: JULY 16, 2008|
|Rank||Driver (First-Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Kyle Busch (10)||200||1|
|Three wins in four races, seven for the season, and a 262-point lead in the standings. Guess the No. 5 car was holding him back after all…|
|2||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||173||3|
|The worst car he had all year ran about as well as his best car last year.|
|Turns out that a broken splitter doesn’t create the same amount of downforce as a loose oil tank lid.|
|Replacing Burton as this season’s Mr. Consistency heading into the Chase.|
|Don’t look now, but the No. 48 is looking like they’re going to hit their stride at just the right time again this year.|
|The search for the second driver at Stewart-Haas Racing will be the first of many distractions that Stewart has to overcome the rest of this year – all while trying to make the Chase.|
|Still looking like the new car configuration is going to prevent one for the thumb.|
|Suddenly reeling after two straight finishes outside the top 15.|
|When your engine blows just as you’re crossing the finish line, you know luck’s been on your side as of late.|
|Chicagoland has always been an automatic top five for this team in recent years; and boy, did they need it.|
|In a year with too many stars and too few spots in the playoffs, 15th just isn’t going to cut it come August and September.|
|The longer he sticks around, the more believers Ragan makes of his unlikely Chase dream.|
|Finally, The Biff learned that the less time you spend on pit road, the better off you’ll be.|
|Intermediate tracks continue to befuddle the RCR crowd.|
|15||Martin Truex Jr.||64||NR|
|Would be ranked higher if not for the 150-point penalty soon to be known as “Truex’s final straw.”|
|Dropped Out: Denny Hamlin (11), Kurt Busch (14)|
|Also Receiving Votes: Denny Hamlin (60), Kurt Busch (52), Ryan Newman (33), Mark Martin (21), Elliott Sadler (19), Bobby Labonte (19), Travis Kvapil (8), Robby Gordon (4), David Reutimann (2), David Gilliland (2), Juan Pablo Montoya (1), Casey Mears (1), Dave Blaney (1), AJ Allmendinger (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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