Race Weekend Central

Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Talladega

Talladega is the biggest track on the Cup circuit and it served up a whopper of a close finish this weekend, with eight cars all passing under the flagstand in the blink of an eye after 500 miles of racing. Jimmie Johnson made a dramatic swing from the top of the track to the bottom, coming through the tri-oval with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in tow to surge past Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer and take the checkers first by .002 seconds, tying the closest margin of victory in series history. How close was the pack as they crossed the line? Kevin Harvick was right on Bowyer’s rear bumper but was credited with fifth place.

Flashing behind him was Carl Edwards’ late race charge to sixth; was that enough to have the voters keep him in first place this week? Or will Jimmie Johnson’s first victory of the season be enough to have him overtake Edwards for the number one spot in the rankings? And, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. didn’t win the race, did he push himself towards the top of the poll by pushing Johnson to the win? Read this week’s Top 15 to find out if your favorite driver bumped his way up through the Talladega draft and into our poll.

*Rank* *Driver (First Place Votes)* *Votes* *Last Week*
*1* *Carl Edwards (4)* 118 1
The last few feet of Sunday’s race looked like Cousin Carl might end up going airborne again at Talladega.
*2* *Jimmie Johnson (1)* 113 3
He can’t be number one in everything… right?
*3* *Dale Earnhardt, Jr.* 103 5
Looks like the role of Jimmie Johnson’s personal assistant – left open since Jeff Gordon left to work down the road – has finally been filled. Wonder what all the Junior fans will think when he helps push Johnson to a title in Homestead?
*4* *Clint Bowyer* 98 6
Should have had one less helping of Hamburger Helper on Saturday night; he might have beaten Johnson to the line.
*5* *Kevin Harvick* 87 7
Had to be frustrating coming across the line one car length behind the winner and finishing fifth.
*6* *Matt Kenseth (1)* 86 2
After one week in Victory Lane, Matt Kenseth asked for and was granted permission to resume playing the role of NASCAR’s Charlie Brown.
*7* *Greg Biffle* 81 11
New contract extension and pretty much no one cared. But isn’t that the story of Biffle’s tenure at Roush? We should start calling him Mr. Invisible…
*8* *Kyle Busch* 79 4
Saturday might have eased Sunday’s pain but he has still only finished in the top 10 twice at Talladega in 13 Cup races.
*9* *Kurt Busch* 68 8
Mistook Talladega for a game of bumper cars at the local arcade Sunday. Chances are that’s going to haunt him down the road…
*10* *Paul Menard* 66 10
This guy’s for real; we swear… the following promotional message was provided by, Menards Home Improvement Stores. Menards! If it’s broken, we’ll throw enough money at our son’s racing program ’till it works.
*11* *Jeff Gordon* 57 NR
You’d think he would have learned over the last few years that the bottom is the key to winning at Talladega.
*12* *Tony Stewart* 54 12
If you had the over/under on Stewart’s laps led on Sunday at 0 and you took the over, you’d have lost money.
*13* *Juan Pablo Montoya* 41 9
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing: From the restrictor plate kings of 2010 to virtually irrelevant there one year later.
*14* *A.J. Allmendinger* 36 NR
Finished 11th and lost two spots in the standings. ‘Dinger is still the top car at Petty but needs to card more than one top 10 every eight races if he’s going to make it to the Chase.
*15* *Mark Martin* 32 NR
Finally led a lap on Sunday. AARP members everywhere can call them their hero once again.
*Dropped Out*: Ryan Newman (13), David Ragan (14), Marcos Ambrose (15).
*Also Receiving Votes:* Ryan Newman (27), Jeff Burton (24), Denny Hamlin (16), David Ragan (15), Marcos Ambrose (14), David Gilliland (11), Joey Logano (9), Martin Truex, Jr. (6), Dave Blaney (5), Trevor Bayne (5), David Reutimann (4), Brad Keselowski (2), Kasey Kahne (1), Andy Lally (1), Casey Mears (1).
*Writer Voters Include:* Phillip Allaway, Bryan Keith, Tom Bowles, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff and Garrett Horton. (No Vito Pugliese this week)

“Contact Mike Neff”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14354/

Wednesday on the Frontstretch:
“Did You Notice?… One For The Underdogs, Zero For The Free Agents”:https://frontstretch.com/tbowles/33719/
“Top Ten Reasons the FANS Think Dale Jr. Is Running So Well This Year”:https://frontstretch.com/jmeyer/33715/
“Mirror Driving: Playing By The Rules, Speed Dating, And Silliness”:https://frontstretch.com/md/33718/
“Turning Back the Clock: 1992 Mountain Dew 500”:https://frontstretch.com/pallaway/33717/

“The Top 10 Closest NASCAR Finishes Of The Last 20 Years”:http://www.athlonsports.com/nascar/slideshows/10-closest-finishes-nascar#1

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