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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville

Although he didn’t win on Sunday, Jimmie Johnson continued his death grip on the top spot in the Power Rankings, with his second-place finish at Martinsville more than enough to secure all 10 of the first-place votes this week. With four races left, the No. 48 needs to only avoid the Talladega wreck to coast home towards his fourth straight title – and a likely season championship in our poll to boot.

But while the number one spot seems secure, plenty of movement ensued within our expert’s weekly submissions. Denny Hamlin‘s third win of the season brought him from the poll’s biggest loser to its biggest winner in the matter of just two weeks. Just how far did he climb? And were any drivers on the outside looking in, like Brian Vickers and Kevin Harvick, able to crack this week’s Power Rankings after impressive performances in the final short track race of the season? Check out the rankings to see which drivers ate high on the hog and which ones had to load up on the TUMS after this weekend.

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
1Jimmie Johnson (10)2001
Getting harder to come up with new ways to say, “It’s over.”
2Jeff Gordon1832
Who knew back in 2002, a young rookie would one day steal the “Drive For Five” label from Gordon before he’d even have a chance to win his fifth?
3Mark Martin1773
Mark’s desk at home must be so disorganized, because he sure hates racing around paperclips.
4Juan Pablo Montoya1746
Is it a coincidence that EGR hasn’t put Taco Bell on Montoya’s car yet this year?
5Tony Stewart1584
He may not be getting the best of the Hendrick equipment… but it sure seems better than Junior’s.
6Kurt Busch1355
Pat Tryson’s now one Talladega Big One away from packing his bags and starting his ’09 offseason three weeks early.
7Denny Hamlin13111
Petitioning hard for all 10 Chase races to be held in Virginia in 2010. Will build a track in his parents’ backyard if that’s what it takes….
8Ryan Newman1178
Never looked at as a contender on the bullrings, but six top 10s in six short-track races in 2009. Very impressive.
9Kyle Busch10512
Wonder who was sick of who in that little arrangement that prompted the crew chief change?
10Matt Kenseth101T – 9
Typical Roush performance at Martinsville.
11Kasey Kahne817
Good thing they don’t have that three-caution rule in the big leagues.
12Clint Bowyer8013
Let’s not forget, this time last year Bowyer was a Nationwide champ-to-be and sitting pretty in the top five in points. Vastly underrated for 2009’s “Disappointment of the Year” award.
13Greg Biffle78T – 9
Typical Roush performance at Martinsville.
14Carl Edwards7214
Typical Roush performance at Martinsville. Notice a trend?
15Casey Mears6315
Somebody forgot to tell this poor guy that cats are the only ones with nine lives. You can only put in a last-ditch effort to save your career so many times….
Dropped Out: None
Also Receiving Votes: Joey Logano (48), Brian Vickers (48), Kevin Harvick (46), David Reutimann (40), Jeff Burton (22), Marcos Ambrose (17), Jamie McMurray (10), Martin Truex Jr. (9), Bobby Labonte (3), David Ragan (3)
Who Voted: Thomas Bowles, Mike Neff, Tony Lumbis, Doug Turnbull, Matt Taliaferro, Vito Pugliese, Bryan Davis Keith, Phillip Allaway and Kurt Smith