NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Darlington

Cinderella was dressed as the Lady in Black Saturday night as Regan Smith scored the first win of his Sprint Cup career for the Furniture Row racing team. As Smith was celebrating his victory with burnouts on the front straight Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick were exchanging pleasantries on pit road concerning their opinions of each others driving skills. At the end of the night Carl Edwards was still the point leader, Smith was the latest entrant into the All-Star race and Brad Keselowski had his first top five since winning at Talladega in 2009.

Did Edwards solidify his hold on the top spot of the poll by chasing Smith to the finish line for second place? Will Tony Stewart’s near victory with pit road strategy push him closer to the top of the rankings? Are Busch and Harvick going to pay the price in the voting like they’re going to pay NASCAR for their pit road transgressions? Read this week’s Top 15 and find out if your driver made it through the race with nothing more than a Darlington stripe or if they got taken out while someone was going for the gusto at the end.

*FRONTSTRETCH TOP 15 POWER RANKINGS: MAY 11th*
*Rank* *Driver (First Place Votes)* *Votes* *Last Week*
*1* *Carl Edwards (6)* 120 1
A new baby and a second place at Darlington is a pretty good week by anyone’s standards.
*2* *Kyle Busch* 109 3
Led the second most laps but was first in two categories Saturday night: cars wrecked on pit road after the race and fights averted.
*3* *Jimmie Johnson* 99 2
Spins out twice, loses a lugnut on pit road and still finishes 15th. Really? Ladies and gentlemen, your five-time Sprint Cup champion… does even kryptonite not kill him?
*4* *Kevin Harvick* 88 5
The first rule of Fight Club: don’t get out of your car until the majority of your pit crew shows up.
*5* *Tony Stewart* 87 7
Two top-10 finishes in a row? Looks like someone whispered in Smoke’s ear and reminded him summertime is just a few short weeks away.
*6* *Dale Earnhardt, Jr.* 85 6
Called a meeting Tuesday to apologize to the crew for his pit road mistake. In other words, crew chief Steve Letarte officially has this boy whipped.
*7* *Kasey Kahne* 83 12
Someone’s wired off Red Bull this month. Turns out Mr. Kahne was finally told he can’t be a “lame duck” for a year if Rick Hendrick needs a sponsor for that No. 5 car for 2012…
*8* *Denny Hamlin* 75 11
Don’t look now, but last year’s runner-up is finally starting to get his act together. But after so many early bumbles is this rally a case of too little, too late to be a factor in ’11?
*9* *Greg Biffle* 74 9
A very Matt Kenseth-like top 10 Saturday night has Biffle on the verge of breaking back into Chase contention.
*10* *Clint Bowyer* 66 4
Bowyer might have had as much to do with the excitement Saturday night as Harvick and Busch but all he’s remembered for is throwing a HANS device.
*11* *Ryan Newman* 65 NR
Threw a punch Montoya’s way in the NASCAR hauler, but perhaps the best revenge was served on the racetrack: fifth while the Colombian couldn’t get out of its own way.
*12* *Regan Smith* 54 NR
Pete Rondeau is no longer Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s crew chief that failed. Barney Visser is no longer the single-car team owner who refused to start-and-park. Regan Smith is no longer “that guy” who lost a race at Talladega by breaking the rules. Together, that trio of underdogs are now known by one thing and one thing only: Sprint Cup winners.
*13* *Jeff Gordon* 43 T – 13
Gordon’s Drive to End Hunger seems to have ended his hunger for a win as of late.
*T – 14* *A.J. Allmendinger* 40 8
Poor outing at Darlington, certainly, but based on his last Monster Mile performance could be a darkhorse candidate for a Dover victory.
*T – 14* *Martin Truex, Jr.* 32 NR
Well who’d a thunk it? I guess the old Donald Trump firing techniques pay off after all.
*Dropped Out*: Matt Kenseth (10), Mark Martin (T – 13), David Ragan (15).
*Also Receiving Votes:* Mark Martin (25), Jamie McMurray (23), Brad Keselowski (18), Matt Kenseth (17), Kurt Busch (15), Marcos Ambrose (13), David Ragan (13), Juan Pablo Montoya (7), Paul Menard (6), Bobby Labonte (5), Jeff Burton (4), Joey Logano (2), Dave Blaney (2).
*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/

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