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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta

Four weeks into the season, the top of the Sprint Cup standings are still a long way from getting sorted out. But after everyone got a chance to take a deep breath this past weekend, it’s easy to notice a few trends starting to take shape. Once again, the multi-car giants of Roush, Hendrick, and Gibbs sit atop the standings, preparing to be the heavyweights ready to duel once more for the Sprint Cup title. But the drivers leading the charge from each organization aren’t necessarily the ones you would have expected a month ago. Jeff Gordon looks like the Wonderboy of old, Matt Kenseth has the magic of Blickensderfer, while Kyle Busch is getting a push… from his brother?

Such has been the rather strange beginning to the 2009 Cup season. To see where your driver sits on the Power Rankings ladder, read on as our experts try and sort out the contenders from the pretenders.

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.

RankDriver (First-Place Votes)VotesLast Week
1Jeff Gordon (10)2192
1993: First year of the Clinton administration – Rookie of the Year Title. 2001: First year of the “W” administration – Sprint Cup Title. 2009: First year of the Obama administration – ??? It’s sure looking like the trend will continue so far.
2Kurt Busch (1)19310
His 2009 is practically the opposite of his 2008, so far. Maybe that’s what inspired the victory lap.
3Carl Edwards1897
Still searching for the magic from the beginning of last year… but looks to be getting closer.
4Clint Bowyer1855
Apparently, what Richard Childress didn’t tell us is he was taking Bowyer away from the “A” team on the No. 07… while stacking the No. 33 with every secret weapon in his arsenal.
5Kyle Busch1801
Learning their lesson from 2008, the No. 18 team is spreading their poor runs throughout the season instead of saving them all for the Chase.
6Matt Kenseth1693
Failed to win two races in a row; has Blickensderfer lost his touch?
7Tony Stewart1486
Has three top-eight finishes this year. That’s a nice way of saying he’s finished eighth… three times.
8Brian Vickers14111
So much for the curse of wrecking both a NASCAR champion and the sport’s Most Popular Driver in one shot.
9Kevin Harvick12213
Think how well he’d be doing without engine gunk.
10Jimmie Johnson1219
“What are you doing down there in 13th, Jimmie?”
“Biding my time before I destroy everybody, Chad.”
11Greg Biffle1024
Confusing the 2009 NASCAR season with the 2009 Demolition Derby.
12Kasey Kahne99NR
Has to be just a little jealous that other Dodge teams get to run the new engine… while he gets one from the local dollar store.
13David Reutimann828
Telling Reutimann that he’s probably not going to be in the top 12 come September is like telling a little kid that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren’t real.
14Denny Hamlin78NR
Has said that he wants to be considered the senior driver at Joe Gibbs Racing. I guess that means if the three of them have to rent a car, they have to put it in his name.
15Jeff Burton5714
Hey, he’s ahead of Casey Mears.
Dropped Out: Bobby Labonte (12), Michael Waltrip (15)
Also Receiving Votes: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (56), Jamie McMurray (47), Martin Truex Jr. (42), Michael Waltrip (25), AJ Allmendinger (22), Mark Martin (9), Bobby Labonte (6), David Gilliland (4), Juan Pablo Montoya (4), David Stremme (4), Elliott Sadler (3), David Ragan (3)
Who Voted: Thomas Bowles, Ren Jonsin, Mike Neff, Tony Lumbis, Matt Taliaferro, Vito Pugliese, Bryan Davis Keith, Phillip 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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