NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Michigan

Frontstretch Power Rankings

The wide open racing surface of Michigan International Speedway gave the drivers plenty of options this past weekend but at the end it came down to who got their car off of pit road the fastest during the last pit stop of the day that won the race. Denny Hamlin’s crew was the best on the “money stop” which put him in the number one spot for the final restart of the race. After the rag flew Hamlin used the clean air to hold off the assault of Matt Kenseth to take his first win of the season. Jimmie Johnson had an unfortunate spin at the beginning of the race which resulted in damage to his sway bar that ultimately put him two laps down and ruined his entire day, dropping him from second in the point standings. While Johnson was having a bad day Carl Edwards rebounded from a bad day at Pocono the week before to a fifth place finish to reassert his hold on the top spot in the point standings.

Was Hamlin’s first win of the season enough to vault him into the top spot in the Power Rankings? Did Dale Earnhardt Jr’s brush with the wall brush him off of the top spot in the poll? How far up the ranks did Kyle Busch climb after posting another top five finish? Read this week’s Top 15 to find out if your favorite driver used all four lanes to pass the pack on his way to the top spot in the poll or if they lost the handle and slid to the bottom of the stack.

*Rank* *Driver (First Place Votes)* *Votes* *Last Week*
*1* *Carl Edwards (4)* 118 2
Will the rumors of bolting Roush-Fenway for Joe Gibbs Racing hurt his late season performance?
*2* *Kyle Busch* 107 6
He don’t need no stinking heavy oil pan.
*3* *Dale Earnhardt, Jr.* 98 1
Wonder if Junior made a call to GoDaddy headquarters after their driver ran him into the wall?
*4* *Matt Kenseth* 94 8
The “Silent Assasin” continues his quiet march toward the top of the standings.
*5* *Kevin Harvick* 90 4
Mr. “Where Did He Come From?” was “Mr. Where Did He Go?” this weekend.
*6* *Jimmie Johnson* 86 3
Even with a forgettable day at Michigan, the consistency has been strong; he “only” has four wins in the past 45 races.
*7* *Kurt Busch* 79 7
Somebody still needs to give Kurt a hug.
*8* *Denny Hamlin* 78 9
While he broke the ice for 2011, don’t you get the feeling Hamlin’s still not really ready to compete for the title this season?
*9* *Jeff Gordon* 71 5
Two wins + wild card = summer of coasting for the No. 24.
*10* *Ryan Newman* 67 11
You’ve got to wonder if all of the talk of Danica, Zipadelli and the Army sponsorship status isn’t wearing on Newman.
*11* *Clint Bowyer* 61 13
So much for that Red Bull leverage to get extra money in the contract for next year.
*T – 12* *Greg Biffle* 60 10
Another Bifflesque performance this week: lead a ton of laps and finish 15th.
*T – 12* *Tony Stewart* 60 12
All of this Zipadelli talk means distractions galore Smoke this Summer.
*14* *Paul Menard* 39 NR
A win at Infineon would not be as big of a surprise as some people might think.
*15* *Mark Martin* 27 NR
Might want to send a little note to the other garage this week and let the driver of the No. 88 know he didn’t do it on purpose.
*Dropped Out*: Kasey Kahne (14), Juan Pablo Montoya (15).
*Others Receiving Votes:* A.J. Allmendinger (23), Kasey Kahne (21), Brian Vickers (20), Joey Logano (13), Trevor Bayne (12), David Ragan (11), Martin Truex, Jr. (7), Juan Pablo Montoya (6), Landon Cassill (6), Brad Keselowski (4), Marcos Ambrose (1), Regan Smith (1).
*Writer Voters Include:* Phillip Allaway, Bryan Keith, Tom Bowles, Tony Lumbis, Vito Pugliese, Mike Neff and Garrett Horton.

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