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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2010 Daytona 500

The parity of plate racing put some unfamiliar faces up front in NASCAR’s Super Bowl – jumbling up the Power Rankings like crazy after just one week. But while upset winner Jamie McMurray shot up the charts, it was Jimmie Johnson who lost out in the midst of underdog success – his rear axle failure at Daytona was enough for him to lose his grip atop our poll for the first time since last fall.

So with the reigning four-time champ slipping a bit, who leapfrogged over him to take that treasured top spot away? And in an up-and-down Speedweeks for NASCAR’s Chevy super-team, what Hendrick-supported wheelman saw his run inside the top 15 come to a screeching halt? Read this week’s Power Rankings to see if your favorite driver used the draft to gain ground with our experts – or if he was sidelined by an unexpected pothole in his first race out of the gate.

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: FEBRUARY 17th
RankDriver (First-Place Votes)VotesLast Week
1Greg Biffle17113
Says McMurray owes him dinner for his role in helping the No. 1 car win the Daytona 500. And considering the monetary difference between first and third ($700,000), that’s going to be one hell of a steak.
2Kevin Harvick (2)15311
Feels like teaming up with Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch in the draft is like, “Working with ants on fire.” Guess we can cross Joe Gibbs Racing off the list for 2011….
3Jamie McMurray (2)147NR
Has always run well in plate races, so now that he has real plate motors this shouldn’t really be a surprise.
4Mark Martin1443
Between Martin’s pole and Danica Patrick‘s debut, GoDaddy got a season’s worth of exposure in just one week. Let’s just all thank God that didn’t include using Mark in one of their “too hot for TV” commercials.
5Clint Bowyer14315
If RCR can be as successful at building intermediate cars as they are at cranking out horsepower, this whole organization will be running up front every week in 2010.
6Dale Earnhardt Jr.142NR
Scintillating run to second reminded us all of his dad’s drive from 18th to first during his final win at Talladega. But can Junior summon Senior’s championship consistency now that the real season begins?
7Carl Edwards (2)1395
The best Valentine’s Day present in the world wasn’t a ninth-place finish – it’s that his wife didn’t give birth before he could get home.
8Jimmie Johnson (3)1371
Ladies and gentlemen, for my next act, I will DNF in the Daytona 500 and still come back to win the championship… just like 2007.
9Jeff Gordon (1)1192
Past Daytona results are not necessarily indicative of future Daytona success.
10Kurt Busch10512
Am I my brother’s keeper?! Well, no… but technically, you are his crew chief’s keeper.
11Matt Kenseth10010
Should have jumped in his 2009 car instead the second he got it back from Daytona USA.
12Tony Stewart (1)874
0-for-12 Daytona streak slowly reaching Dale Earnhardt-like proportions.
13Kasey Kahne869
Yeah, he crashed out of the big race, but he won a qualifier and led Daytona early. And remember, this is an even-numbered year….
14Kyle Busch858
Good thing he’s still got Scott Speed as a best friend, because everyone else left him pretty lonely in Daytona’s draft late.
15Juan Pablo Montoya847
Watched his teammate steal the spotlight for this race, but is perfectly positioned to take it back for the next 35.
Dropped Out: Denny Hamlin (6), Ryan Newman (14)
Also Receiving Votes: David Reutimann (82), Denny Hamlin (80), Martin Truex Jr. (78), Jeff Burton (76), Ryan Newman (31), AJ Allmendinger (27), Scott Speed (23), Paul Menard (21), David Ragan (14), Elliott Sadler (13), Brian Vickers (12), Joey Logano (8), Danica Patrick (1), Robby Gordon (1), Michael Waltrip (1)
Writer Voting Panel: Phil Allaway, Brock Beard, Thomas Bowles, Bryan Davis Keith, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, John Potts, Vito Pugliese, Mike Ravesi, Kurt Smith and Matt Taliaferro.