The Jewel in the Desert offered up some fast and furious competition on Sunday, with the Shelby 427 perhaps taking its place as the most competitive racing yet out in Las Vegas. In the end, the 1.5-mile oval took a rather unexpected toll on some motors, a more expected one on some nerves, and turned the Power Rankings into chaos with a ton of late-race wrecks and pit strategy.
Once the smoke cleared and the gambling stopped, our experts had clearly finished major surgery just three weeks into our Power Rankings season. Matt Kenseth‘s last-place finish was enough to catapult him from the top spot in the poll; but was Kyle Busch’s victory enough to put him number one? Or, did Jeff Gordon’s consistency allow him to swipe the top spot along with the Sprint Cup points lead?
Meanwhile, David Reutimann’s early-season run has allowed him to break into the rankings ahead of his car owner – but just how far up the ladder did he climb? Read on to find out these answers and more, as the experts sort out if your driver hit the jackpot or rolled snake eyes in this week’s Power Rankings.
How the Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football – writers on 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 one batch of Power Rankings to serve to our fans.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP-15 POWER RANKINGS: MARCH 4, 2009|
|Rank||Driver (First-Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Kyle Busch (5)||174||3|
|“Say Goodnight, Gracie!” was another Busch classic on the radio – except it belonged to spotter Jeff Dickerson instead.|
|2||Jeff Gordon (1)||168||2|
|Funny how racing fate works out sometimes. A few years ago, a tiny piece of the track at Martinsville physically breaks apart and busts Gordon’s radiator, virtually ending his chance for the win. At Las Vegas last Sunday, his whole driver’s side front fender is ripped off – yet he finishes in the top 10 and takes the points lead. Strange.|
|3||Matt Kenseth (3)||165||1|
|Crew mistakenly interpreted mileage change as the Shelby 4 – not 427. Whoops!|
|Making you feel like his primary sponsor should be Pinball Wizard, not 3M, with the way he bounces around during races.|
|Proving quickly it was more driver than team in the No. 07 last year.|
|For the first time all year, the Old Spice didn’t hold and Stewart wound up with a stinky performance at Vegas.|
|It happens every year, doesn’t it? We always expect last year’s big-momentum driver to come out of the gates on fire. Instead, it’s just their own team that blows up.|
|Reutimann “noses” his way into the top five in points after Vegas. Too easy.|
|Worried about Jimmie? How could you? It’s not September yet, so no need to get your panties in a wad.|
|Kurt was the first Busch brother to win a Sprint Cup championship. Apparently, Kyle will be the first Busch brother to accomplish everything else.|
|Underrated crew chief (Ryan Pemberton) + underrated talent = you ain’t seen nothing yet from this pairing.|
|Ask.com: When was the last time Bobby Labonte finished top 10 in points? Answer: 2003.|
|Working on that new “no DNF” record one race at a time. Just 84 more to go.|
|Wishes he could jump into the wayback machine and get back to last year’s runs. At least Vegas was a step in the right direction…|
|This past weekend looked like the Michael we’ve grown to know and love – but he’s still in the top 12 in points.|
|Dropped Out: David Ragan (10), Denny Hamlin (11), Juan Pablo Montoya (14), AJ Allmendinger (15)|
|Also Receiving Votes: Jamie McMurray (46), Kasey Kahne (36), Denny Hamlin (34), Mark Martin (25), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (23), David Ragan (20), Elliott Sadler (18), Juan Pablo Montoya (15), Marcos Ambrose (13), Reed Sorenson (4), David Gilliland (1), AJ Allmendinger (1)|
|Who Voted: Thomas Bowles, Ren Jonsin, Mike Neff, Tony Lumbis, Matt Taliaferro, Vito Pugliese, Bryan Davis Keith, Phil Allaway, Kurt Smith 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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