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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2008 Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix

The desert Southwest held a couple of different surprises for the racers this weekend. Rain and gale force winds threw a lot at the teams; but when all was said and done, it was status quo for the No. 48. Jimmie Johnson led the most laps and won the race handily, all but securing this year’s title heading to Homestead.

That dominance was also enough to put almost all of our panel votes behind the points leader, putting him securely in the top spot again this week. But with one week to go, there was quite a bit of movement behind him. Read on to see if your driver was cool and collected or caught in the cactus on Rattlesnake Hill in this week’s Power Rankings.

RankDriver (First-Place Votes)VotesLast Week
1Jimmie Johnson (9)1991
In order to make next year’s Chase more interesting, NASCAR is considering implementing the rule that requires the defending champ to race blindfolded for the final 10 events.
2Carl Edwards (1)1912
How eight wins (possibly nine) can be considered a disappointment is beyond us, but it also bodes well for this team in 2009.
3Kevin Harvick1566
Perhaps the most consistent Chaser never to get noticed. You can tell he has spent a lot of time with Jeff Burton over the past few years.
4Greg Biffle1533
A stronger version of Chase “Cinderella” than Clint Bowyer; but in the end, the glass slipper still broke.
5Jeff Burton1319
Top tenning them to death isn’t good enough when you’re chasing Knaus and Johnson.
6Jeff Gordon1224
Think about this one: Barack Obama was in his first year of serving on the board of the Joyce Foundation and the Woods Fund of Chicago when Gordon started his consecutive win streak in Cup.
7Kyle Busch12010
Actively petitioning the federal government for a Chase Bailout.
T-8David Ragan1138
Is there a “From Dart Without Feathers to Driver of the Year” Award anywhere in the sports world?
T-8Jamie McMurray11312
Grabbing the most “where did that come from?” looks from anyone in the garage these days.
T-10Matt Kenseth1115
Finally shifted from the punter to the punted for a change.
T-10Denny Hamlin11111
Despite the tough economy, the FedEx car still delivers when needed.
T-10Dale Earnhardt Jr.11114
Strong all day, but lost spots at the end; have ya heard this story before?
13Clint Bowyer1087
Sobering up off Jack just in time to switch to Cheerios for 2009.
14Kurt Busch87NR
Hoping to get some castoff cars from Johnson by sucking up to him unabashedly.
15Tony Stewart6713
Finished one lap down, but ahead of Ryan Newman. 2009 will look like that quite often.
Dropped Out: Martin Truex Jr. (15)
Also Receiving Votes: Casey Mears (35), AJ Allmendinger (31), Mark Martin (27), David Reutimann (24), Kasey Kahne (20), Martin Truex Jr. (19), Elliott Sadler (10), Juan Pablo Montoya (10), Bobby Labonte (8), Marcos Ambrose (7), Brian Vickers (6), Ryan Newman (3), Paul Menard (3), Scott Riggs (2), Reed Sorenson (1), 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