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Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2010 AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega

It may have been the curse of the ancient Indian burial ground popping up once again on Sunday, as Talladega saw some crazy twists and turns that led to a rather unpredictable ending. Clint Bowyer had his nose in front at just the right time while AJ Allmendinger was busy going upside down, winning the race under caution in a nail-biter that took five minutes of officials scouring over video to verify. Dale Earnhardt Jr. led the most laps but wound up well behind thanks to a poor bump-draft in the corner, while Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin spent most of the race running in the back before their late-race pushes found them both in the top 10 when it counted. Further up the running order, Kevin Harvick somehow managed to get his torn up car to the front and secured a second-place finish, one which allowed him to make up valuable points on Johnson and Hamlin as the gap between the trio closed to just 38 points.

That leaves the title race as much of a toss-up as this November’s election was not, the perfect opportunity for NASCAR to sell this Chase to fans entering the homestretch. So who among the three has the edge? Was Johnson’s late-race push enough to keep him on top of the Power Rankings, or did Harvick ride the wave of momentum into the top spot? Did Hamlin’s top-10 finish keep him runner-up, or did he lose ground to Johnson and Harvick? And how much of a jump did Bowyer make with his second win in the Chase, along with non-Chaser Joey Logano‘s third consecutive top-10 finish? Read this week’s Top 15 to see how the unpredictability of plate racing shook up the rankings for our experts as the season enters its final month.

FRONTSTRETCH TOP-15 POWER RANKINGS: NOVEMBER 3rd, 2010
Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Jimmie Johnson (9) 198 1
It’s as close as anybody has come since 2005 to keep Johnson and Chad Knaus from running away with the championship – but is it going to be enough?
2 Denny Hamlin (1) 189 2
When even your teammates won’t drop back to help you catch back up to the draft, you know you’re alone on the island.
3 Kevin Harvick 183 3
So Clint Bowyer’s crew comes over to Harvick – only to see their old driver whoop them two weeks later. Yeah, that’s a healthy scenario for them heading into the homestretch…
4 Jeff Gordon 160 5
Dressed up for Halloween like Jimmie Johnson’s b*tch. Must be getting tiring to be using the same costume for each of the last five years…
5 Kyle Busch 151 4
You had to expect this guy would steal some candy on Halloween weekend; it just came in the form of a yellow line rule the night before.
6 Clint Bowyer 119 NR
More wins than anyone else in the Chase, yet last in the 12-man playoff. And people wonder why so many despise this playoff format…
7 Carl Edwards 113 6
Drove the whole day at ‘Dega like he had pre-Subway Jared weighing the car down in the back seat.
8 Joey Logano 98 13
Turns out Sliced Bread still knows how to cut his way through the competition after all – three top-10 finishes is a first for this youngster. And that’s not good when he holds a “revenge” knife over Harvick’s head with three races left.
T-9 Jeff Burton 89 T-8
Mr. Consistency can hardly buy a top 15 these days.
T-9 Matt Kenseth 89 11
Led the most laps among the Roush Brigade on Sunday. Guess that’s saying something…
11 Mark Martin 87 10
You know this team’s heading in the right direction when they can actually make it through Talladega in one piece.
12 Tony Stewart 86 T-8
Got back on the lead lap at Talladega just in time… to get collected in the kind-of-big-one on the white-flag lap.
13 Jamie McMurray 73 7
Harvick finishes second with a mangled front end while McMurray ends up 36th with a wrinkled fender. What gives?
14 Greg Biffle 69 14
All those Breakfast With The Biffs have led to a serious case of late-season indigestion.
15 Juan Pablo Montoya 59 NR
How can Montoya make it this far in the 10-race playoff without causing controversy? Surely, the Target Chevy will be the bullseye on some Chaser’s back the next three weeks.
Dropped Out: Kurt Busch (12), AJ Allmendinger (15)
Also Receiving Votes: Kurt Busch (54), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (47), David Reutimann (45), AJ Allmendinger (34), Paul Menard (29), Brad Keselowski (27), Ryan Newman (20), Martin Truex Jr. (19), Kasey Kahne (15), Regan Smith (13), David Ragan (10), Sam Hornish Jr. (7), Robby Gordon (5), Aric Almirola (4), Ken Schrader (3), Joe Nemechek (2), Michael Waltrip (2), Chad McCumbee (1)
Writer Voting Panel: Phil Allaway, Brock Beard, Thomas Bowles, Bryan Davis Keith, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, Vito Pugliese, Kurt Smith, Garrett Horton and Matt Taliaferro

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