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NASCAR Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Sonoma

Frontstretch Power Rankings
Sonoma was vindication for those who said that Bowyer's move from superteam Richard Childress Racing to largely unsuccessful Michael Waltrip Racing was the worst thing he could do for his career. However, Michael Waltrip Racing has been outperforming RCR by leaps and bounds this year, along with other largely competitive teams. 
The big storyline was, however, Kurt Busch's behavior. Not only did he decide not to wreck Bowyer when he certainly had the opportunity, but he gave a very professional post-race interview and press conference following a tough loss.
Did Busch's good behavior–on and off track–boost his standing in our rankings? Did Bowyer's victory impress our staff? Keep reading to find out:

How The Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football — our expert stable of NASCAR writers, both on staff and from other major publications, will vote for the Top 20 on a 20-19-18-17-16-15… 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first place driver, 19 for their second, and so on. In the end, Summer Dreyer calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and … here you go!

Rank Driver (First Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Jimmie Johnson (3) 127 3
Lookie there! Five time is back at the top. It’s hard to imagine someone as accomplished as Johnson being “quiet”, yet that’s exactly what he’s been for the past few weeks. Of course, the same could be said at this point for his championship season. Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com
2 Tony Stewart (1) 122 5
Stewart tends to rain on the parades of drivers who break winless streaks. Except Bowyer–he certainly celebrated like it was a national holiday. Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com
3 Matt Kenseth (1) 119 2
Looks at road courses like most other drivers look at Superspeedways: merely surviving is a successful day and Kenseth did just that on Sunday. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
4 Clint Bowyer (2) 117 7
Clint Bowyer to MWR is starting to look like the best move of the offseason. Wonder how many people were thinking that last October. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
5 Greg Biffle 112 4
Easily rebounded from his engine failure at Michigan with back-to-back top-10 finishes to rejoin teammate Kenseth in the top 2 in points.
6 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 100 1
Might want to consider pulling off his Michigan magic in August, when he can keep the momentum up at Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond afterwards, some of his better tracks as opposed to Sonoma. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
7 Kevin Harvick 84 6
11.2 average finish so far in 2012 is the second best of his career.
8 Martin Truex, Jr.  81 11
Once again, Truex ran strong and was in the top 5 late in the race only to have Joey Logano cut his tire and drop him to 22nd after leading 15 laps.
9 Brad Keselowski 76 10
Ran just well enough to stay out of trouble but wasn't all that impressive.
10 Jeff Gordon 70 12
18.9 average finish is the worst of his career. Apparently it IS better to be lucky than good sometimes.
11 Joey Logano 64 15
Making a lot of enemies on his way into Chase contention. Will that come back to bite him later in the season? Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
12 Denny Hamlin  61 9
His accident streak is starting to look like his teammates' blown engine streak. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
13 Marcos Ambrose 51 13
Needs at least two wins to grab wild card. With only one road course left, do his chances still add up?
14 Kasey Kahne 50 14
Inconsistency continues to dog him like a bloodhound.
15 Carl Edwards 46 8
The runner-up hangover continues. Somebody get this guy an Egg McMuffin with extra bacon
Dropped Out: None.
Others Receiving Votes: Kyle Busch (41), Kurt Busch (32), Paul Menard (26), Ryan Newman (23), Brian Vickers (20), A.J. Allmendinger (14), Jeff Burton (14), Juan Pablo Montoya (12), Mark Martin (4), Jamie McMurray (3), Casey Mears (1).
Who Voted: Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com; Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.comCarolyn Brewster, NASCAR Illustrated; Amanda Ebersole, SkirtsandScuffs.com; Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com; Dustin Long, Athlon Sports; Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com; Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports.

Contact Summer Bedgood

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