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Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Pepsi 500 at Fontana

After scoring another victory at his home track, Jimmie Johnson put a major stranglehold on the top spot in the poll following Chase race number four at California. Behind him, the keyword appears to be “stability” as a Sunday snoozer led to minimal movement amongst our Power Rankings. But while our experts have labeled Johnson the favorite, there’s plenty of debate over who’s best positioned to challenge a bid for his fourth straight title. Is it Mark Martin? Juan Pablo Montoya? Tony Stewart? Or one of the Roushketeers?

Read below to find out, seeing who scored the fresh Pepsi this week and whose can was flat in the latest edition of our Sprint Cup 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.

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Jimmie Johnson (9) 199 1
The relentless pursuit of perfection marches on.
2 Mark Martin (1) 185 2
This is the Martin luck we are used to – finishing fourth but still losing the points lead in the process.
3 Juan Pablo Montoya 181 3
The top of the points standings look like the beginning of a joke: “A preppy, an old man and a Colombian walk into a track….”
4 Jeff Gordon 161 4
The Drive for Five is alive, but it is still chasing the back bumper of the Connect Four Chevrolet.
5 Tony Stewart 153 5
For some reason, we really don’t think you need to hook Stewart up to a polygraph machine to see if he likes Whoppers.
6 Kurt Busch 148 7
Leads Sprint Cup Series in the Bouncing Off Walls Into Other Cars category this season.
7 Denny Hamlin 132 6
Clear low… Psych!!!!
8 Greg Biffle 122 8
At least Tom Logano didn’t hit him with the “Big Bug-eyed Dummy” tag that Sterling Marlin did a few years ago.
9 Carl Edwards 112 11
Who would have thought this year’s preseason title favorite would slump to the point he’d have to scratch and claw just to get a top 10?
10 Ryan Newman 102 9
Lost more spots in the last ten laps than Hamlin lost phone numbers at the bar Saturday night.
11 Matt Kenseth 89 14
If the team’s making changes for 2010, how about changing his crew chief’s last name to “Blick?” That would be a heck of a lot less awkward than trying to butcher it every time you pronounce his name….
12 Kasey Kahne 88 10
You mean to say someone finally spoke about the 800-pound gorilla in the room? Man, that must have been awkward… bet someone called a caution for debris to break the tension!
T-13 Kyle Busch 73 13
At least you could say he’s faster than David Gilliland when he feels like Fido’s rear end.
T-13 Clint Bowyer 73 15
In a fight for “Best of the Rest,” but it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as “Chase Cinderella.”
T-15 Brian Vickers 53 12
Started 32nd, finished 29th… pretty sure this team blew its wad just to make the Chase.
T-15 Casey Mears 53 NR
The latest sign of the times: it takes a driver the threat of a pink slip for them to finally start performing to expectations.
Dropped Out: None
Also Receiving Votes: Kevin Harvick (50), Marcos Ambrose (35), David Reutimann (35), David Ragan (16), Sam Hornish Jr. (13), Joey Logano (8), Jeff Burton (6), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (6), David Stremme (3), AJ Allmendinger (2), Elliott Sadler (1), John Andretti (1)
Who Voted: Thomas Bowles, Kevin Birge, Mike Neff, Tony Lumbis, Doug Turnbull, Matt Taliaferro, Vito Pugliese, Bryan Davis Keith, Phillip Allaway and Kurt Smith.


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