Chase leaders learned the hard way why Chicago’s known as the Windy City, as many saw their cushion at the top swept away. Points leader Kevin Harvick’s advantage over second place was cut from 225 to 103 points, while third-place Jimmie Johnson led the most laps in the race, but could not overcome a couple of miscues that relegated him to a finish off the lead lap. That left David Reutimann in position to pull a shocking upset, passing Jeff Gordon for the lead late and scoring just the second victory of his career. As a result, he joined Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne and Jamie McMurray clustered outside a tightening Chase field as the race for the playoffs heats up. Those four have more top-five finishes than half the drivers above them right now, but several dreaded DNFs mean the difference between making and breaking their season.
What does it all mean for the Power Rankings this week? Four words: more jumbled than ever. Gordon can’t find victory lane this year, but another strong showing has him moving up the ladder. Was the original four-time’s finish strong enough to move him into the number one spot, or did Harvick manage to hang on even after running out of gas? Further back, did Reutimann’s win give him enough votes to move into the standings once again? Read this week’s Top 15 to see how the experts voted in our latest poll.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP-15 POWER RANKINGS: JULY 14th|
|Rank||Driver (First-Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Jeff Gordon (6)||192||T-3|
|Did you see his new book? Jeff Gordon: How to Lose a Race You’ve Already Won. Latest edition comes out in Bookstores this September. And be sure to look for the sequel, Five-Timed by My Own Employee, expected out in January 2011.|
|2||Jimmie Johnson (2)||183||2|
|Johnson continues to lead the Sprint Cup Series in spinning out… a lot. We’ve seen more mental mistakes this year than in the past but, with his daughter finally being born, look for the wins to fire up again starting with the Brickyard. Problems are easy to fix when the only people beating the No. 48 are themselves.|
|3||Kevin Harvick (1)||176||1|
|Good thing the regular season doesn’t mean squat during the Chase. Oh wait…|
|The King of scoring top-10 finishes. But at this point, consistency doesn’t get you more than a Chase ticket and some lovely consolation prizes.|
|Wasn’t he supposed to, like, be smoking everybody by now every weekend?|
|The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde team of the Sprint Cup Series. A quick listen to the radio chatter will reinforce that ****.|
|7||Tony Stewart (1)||134||8|
|I guess now that he’s in the Chase, there’s no need to go all crazy and win a few races, right? Especially when Mr. Hendrick called and said sixth to 10th would be just fine.|
|Only his second top-five finish of 2010 to go along with 10 top-10 finishes. Mr. Bowyer, call for you on the other line. Some guy named Juan Pablo Montoya… something about stealing his strategy…|
|Thinking Crown Royal might be becoming more and more of a staple in his diet these days.|
|Bet Aaron’s needed some TUMS after the Franchise won without their paint scheme.|
|Doubled his laps led total again this week. At this pace, he should lead 32 laps in the season finale.|
|Thankfully, the FR9 didn’t turn into a DNF4 this weekend.|
|Rusty Wallace apologized for calling him a “dumbass” after his interview in victory lane Friday night. 75% of NASCAR Nation has yet to offer a similar mea culpa.|
|Apparently, driving the F****** R9 engine this past weekend wasn’t such a good idea.|
|How long before they come out with a Jamie McBurger at the golden arches?|
|Dropped Out: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (9), Mark Martin (15)|
|Also Receiving Votes: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (55), AJ Allmendinger (43), Mark Martin (42), Martin Truex Jr. (34), Joey Logano (23), Ryan Newman (21), Juan Pablo Montoya (17), Paul Menard (17), Reed Sorenson (3), Brad Keselowski (3), Elliott Sadler (2), David Ragan (2), Sam Hornish Jr. (1)|
|Writer Voting Panel: Phillip Allaway, Brock Beard, Thomas Bowles, Bryan Davis Keith, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, Vito Pugliese, Mike Ravesi, Kurt Smith and Matt Taliaferro.|
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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