The Track too Tough to Tame lived up to its reputation Saturday night, as most every car was loaded onto the trailer with at least a Darlington stripe if not significant damage. And it was our longtime Power Rankings king who may have suffered the most; Jimmie Johnson wound up singing the blues after a stinging hit from AJ Allmendinger left him carrying home his third DNF in 11 races this season.
That was also the third strike for the No. 48 team, costing them their place atop the charts for the first time since Fontana in February. In his wake remained a long list of drivers vying to take his place: Darlington winner Denny Hamlin, points leader Kevin Harvick, and the new/old/still crazy Kyle Busch. Could any of them break through to lead our top 15, or would all of them wind up playing second fiddle to a different four-time champ?
Find out below to see how our experts voted after another wacky weekend visiting the Lady In Black.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP-15 POWER RANKINGS: MAY 12th|
|Rank||Driver (First-Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Jeff Gordon (2)||186||3|
|Some drivers solicit fan votes to get them in the All-Star Race. But since Gordon’s already in it, he’s polling fans this week to find the next way they want him to blow a shot at victory lane instead. Running out of gas? Speeding on pit road? We’ll just have to wait and see this Sunday.|
|2||Kevin Harvick (4)||182||2|
|Four top-10 finishes and one victory the last four races, but if you polled 100 random NASCAR fans 50 wouldn’t even know he’s the points leader. No wonder wife DeLana’s swearing at people.|
|3||Denny Hamlin (2)||179||5|
|How long until the, “Maybe I should get my knee cut on!” jokes get old?|
|4||Jimmie Johnson (1)||168||1|
|Firm believer in the myth that green cars are bad luck.|
|5||Kyle Busch (1)||165||4|
|A little less time bitching about Darlington and a little more time focusing on driving could have gone a long way Saturday night.|
|Said the team needs to buckle down and get their act together if they want to win races. I guess that also entails waiting for the guy changing tires on the right side to run back around to the front.|
|Remember when Kurt Busch was the trendy favorite to unseat Johnson? Don’t worry; the No. 2 team still remembers.|
|Being the “Man in Black” didn’t help much on Saturday night.|
|The biggest second-place upset since Hut Stricklin nearly took down Gordon in the Southern 500 back in 1996. We never heard from Hut again; will we hear from Jamie?|
|Somebody better tap Mark Martin on the shoulder and remind him he doesn’t retire from full-time racing until 2012.|
|Remember when it wasn’t a matter of if he’d win again, but when?|
|Hoping he can live up to his 10.8 average finish at Dover to get his season back on track.|
|T-12||Juan Pablo Montoya||81||15|
|More top fives and top 10s than half of the drivers in the Chase right now.|
|Something tells me with Old Spice leaving Stewart-Haas Racing, somebody’s going to be “reeling in” Bass Pro Shops for 2011.|
|15||Martin Truex Jr.||66||13|
|NAPA Know How is no match for the Lady In Black.|
|Dropped Out: Clint Bowyer (T-11)|
|Also Receiving Votes: Clint Bowyer (49), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (45), Brad Keselowski (32), David Reutimann (24), Tony Stewart (22), Brian Vickers (20), Joey Logano (18), Regan Smith (17), Kasey Kahne (13), David Ragan (5), Elliott Sadler (5), Scott Speed (3), David Stremme (2), Paul Menard (1)|
|Writer Voting Panel: Phil Allaway, Brock Beard, Thomas Bowles, Bryan Davis Keith, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, Vito Pugliese, Mike Ravesi, Kurt Smith, and Matt Taliaferro|
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