Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Writer Power Rankings: Top 15 After Las Vegas

<div style=\"margin: 20px; width: 275px; float: left; border: 0px solid black; padding: 3px\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/1952.gif\" border=\"0\" alt=\"Frontstretch Power Rankings\" width=\"206\" height=\"202\" /></div><div><div><div><div>Matt Kenseth rolled the dice on the last pit stop, took fuel only, then held off Kasey Kahne to win his first race of the 2013 season and his first for new team Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth was strong all day, running inside the top 10, but proved that clean air trumps fresh tires on 1.5-mile tracks with the new Gen-6 car.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div>While much of the news revolved around Denny Hamlin&rsquo;s negative comments about the Gen-6 chassis, costing him $25,000 Las Vegas showed the positive side of the new design. Kasey Kahne began the dig out of his early-season hole, leading a race-high 114 laps and finishing second. Brad Keselowski, winding up in third place now stands alone as the only driver with top-5 results in every race so far this season. A little further back, Carl Edwards followed up his win last week with a second consecutive top-5 finish, showing he&#39;ll be a 2013 contender. And then, of course there was Jimmie Johnson, on cruise control to sixth place and the edge atop the Sprint Cup point standings. </div><div>&nbsp;</div><div> Who are you <em>not </em>going to see move up the poll this week? Stewart-Haas Racing, who continued to struggle, with Tony Stewart bringing home a team-high 11th. Ryan Newman lost an engine and Danica Patrick struggled to find speed all day; those drivers finished 38th and 33rd, respectively.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div>As the series travels back to the East Coast this week, drivers will tackle their first short track in Thunder Valley. How much momentum do your favorite experts feel they have going in? Find out in the latest edition of our Power Rankings… </div></div><div>&nbsp;</div></div><div><strong>How The Rankings Are Calculated</strong>: Frontstretch does our power rankings 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, Michael Mehedin calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and … here you go!</div></div><table border=\"0\"><tbody></tbody></table><table border=\"0\" cellspacing=\"4\" cellpadding=\"0\" bgcolor=\"#a0a0a0\"><tbody><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td colspan=\"4\" align=\"center\"><strong>FRONTSTRETCH TOP 15 POWER RANKINGS: March 13th</strong></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td><strong>Rank</strong></td><td><strong>Driver (First Place Votes)</strong></td><td><strong>Votes</strong> </td><td align=\"right\"><strong>Last Week</strong></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>1</strong></td><td><strong>Jimmie Johnson (7)</strong></td><td align=\"right\">244</td><td align=\"right\">1</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Jimmie is running this well and it isn&rsquo;t even the Chase yet!? It&rsquo;s going to be a long year for the other 42 drivers. <em>Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>2</strong></td><td><strong>Brad Keselowski (3)</strong></td><td align=\"right\">243</td><td align=\"right\">2</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Three top-5 finishes lead all drivers, but he hasn&rsquo;t won yet and he&#39;s not happy about it. That&#39;s certainly a good sign of things to come for him. <em>Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>3</strong></td><td><strong>Matt Kenseth (2)</strong></td><td align=\"right\">224</td><td align=\"right\">6</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">The best thing to happen to this team since Sliced Bread. <em>Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>4</strong></td><td><strong>Dale Earnhardt, Jr.</strong></td><td align=\"right\">214</td><td align=\"right\">3</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Consistency is the key to success in qualifying for the Chase, but he will need to learn how to win races to be a champ. <em>Dennis Michelsen, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>5</strong></td><td><strong>Kasey Kahne (1)</strong></td><td align=\"right\">199</td><td align=\"right\">12</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Learned from last year that beginning to recover from a disastrous start, a little earlier in the season will make for a much less strenuous summer. <em>Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>6</strong></td><td><strong>Carl Edwards</strong></td><td align=\"right\">194</td><td align=\"right\">7</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Jimmy Fennig now officially licensed to raise the dead. <em>Dave Moody, SiriusXM Radio</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>7</strong></td><td><strong>Denny Hamlin</strong></td><td align=\"right\">164</td><td align=\"right\">4</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Dropped in the Power Rankings due to Section 12-1. <em>Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>8</strong></td><td><strong>Kyle Busch</strong></td><td align=\"right\">143</td><td align=\"right\">14</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Running far better than the final results would indicate. But at some point, &ldquo;potential&rdquo; needs to turn into &ldquo;performance&rdquo; when it counts again. <em>Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>9</strong></td><td><strong>Greg Biffle</strong></td><td align=\"right\">136</td><td align=\"right\">10</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">That ugly paint scheme was the only reason he received any screen time in Vegas. <em>Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>10</strong></td><td><strong>Tony Stewart</strong></td><td align=\"right\">124</td><td align=\"right\">8</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Finished 11th Sunday. With Danica 33rd and Newman 38th, Smoke is not enjoying team ownership quite as much as he did in 2011. <em>Dave Moody, SiriusXM Radio</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>11</strong></td><td><strong>Kevin Harvick</strong></td><td align=\"right\">123</td><td align=\"right\">11</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Mr. Where Did He Come From has become Mr. Where Did He Go? <em>Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>12</strong></td><td><strong>Clint Bowyer</strong></td><td align=\"right\">109</td><td align=\"right\">5</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">That runner-up slump might be kicking in. <em>Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>13</strong></td><td><strong>Aric Almirola</strong></td><td align=\"right\">96</td><td align=\"right\">15</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Almirola&rsquo;s good, no doubt, but this ride is showcasing why who&rsquo;s on top of the pit box still matters. Remember Todd Parrott? I seem to remember him winning a championship and two Daytona 500s with Dale Jarrett. <em>Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>14</strong></td><td><strong>Mark Martin</strong></td><td align=\"right\">78</td><td align=\"right\">13</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Would really like to see what Mark would do if he ran the series full-time at age 54. <em>Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>15</strong></td><td><strong>Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.</strong></td><td align=\"right\">77</td><td align=\"right\">NR</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">He beat Danica! <em>Dave Moody, SiriusXM Radio</em></td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\"><strong>Dropped Out</strong>: Jeff Gordon (9).</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\"><strong>Others Receiving Votes</strong>:&nbsp;Paul Menard (75), Jeff Gordon (71), Martin Truex, Jr. (68), Joey Logano (57), Jamie McMurray (32), Marcos Ambrose (23), Kurt Busch (10), Jeff Burton (8), Ryan Newman (8), Juan Pablo Montoya (6), Trevor Bayne (2), Austin Dillon (1), Dave Blaney (1).</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\"><strong>Who Voted</strong>: <a href=\"http://twitter.com/Critic84\">Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com</a>; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/summerbedgood\">Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com</a>; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/NASCARBowles\">Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com</a>; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/ddarnell1\">Denny Darnell, Darnell Communications</a>; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/Racetake\">Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com</a>; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/dustinlong\">Dustin Long, Athlon Sports</a>; <a href=\"http://twitter.com/tonylumbis\">Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com</a>; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/MikeyMehedin\">Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com</a>; <a href=\"http://www.facebook.com/RaceTalkRadio\">Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com</a>; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/DGodfatherMoody\">Dave Moody, SiriusXM Radio</a>; Brad Morgan, Frontstretch.com; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/Riceman61\">Doug Rice, Performance Racing Netwrok</a>; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/jeffwolfe206\">Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com</a>.</td></tr></tbody></table>

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