NASCAR Race Weekend Central

NASCAR National Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Bristol

Power RankingsMother Nature has virtually punched her ticket into the 2014 Chase as rain once again delayed a Sprint Cup race; this time, twice in one day. The eight-hour event was eventually run in its entirety, with Carl Edwards becoming the fourth different driver to win in as many races. Tire strategy got Edwards to the lead and he never looked back, pacing the field for a total of 78 laps.
After a career-best start to his season with two second-place finishes and a win, the wind in Junior Nation’s sails was lost after an unimpressive 24th-place finish. For the second week in a row, SHR flag-bearer Kevin Harvick endured troubles and dropped outside the top 35. On the flip side, Jeff Gordon logged his fourth consecutive top-10 result, the best start to his storied career, part of a contingent of drivers who used Bristol to boost their season-long title hopes. Others… well, they simply survived. Matt Kenseth proved that aerodynamics don’t mean a lot at Bristol after being rear-ended by Timmy Hill but rallying to a 13th-place finish.
The biggest controversy was with three laps to go when the caution lights “mysteriously” came on much to the surprise of the drivers, crews, fans and even NASCAR. Official reports state an official in the flagstand accidentally turned on the lights, triggering the tower to throw the yellow flag. Ironically, the rain began to fall again shortly after and the race was called, ensuring no negative effects of the rogue caution.
Drivers now head back to the West Coast and Auto Club Speedway. Let’s see if the same ones perform well at this big, two-mile oval. But before that, see if your driver made the cut in this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings.
How The Rankings Are Calculated: 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… 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first-place driver, 19 for second, and so on. In the end, Mike Mehedin calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and… here you go!

FRONTSTRETCH TOP 15 POWER RANKINGS: March 19th

Rank

Driver

(First Place Votes)

Votes

Last Week

1 Brad Keselowski (5) 213 2
Brad barely keeps himself on the top of the heap, but that’s mainly because everyone around him screwed up worse than he did. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
2 Carl Edwards (3) 194 7
Edwards managed to do a near flawless backflip on a wet racing surface after driving 500 laps at Bristol. And I can’t even get out of bed in the morning without stumbling like the undead. Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com
3 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (1) 190 1
He slumped at Bristol? He won the Daytona 500, it doesn’t matter! Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com
4 Jeff Gordon (1) 179 5
If you haven’t heard of the “blue ocean strategy,” look it up. Gordon is mastering the theory. Consistency still matters so long as there aren’t 16 winners in 26 races. He knows that. Andrew Maness, NASCARnomics.com
5 Jimmie Johnson (1) 161 3
The mystery is whether Johnson will retire before NASCAR runs out of rule changes to try to keep him from winning 10 championships. Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com
6 Joey Logano  159 4
Having no power steering was a clever ruse by Logano to bulk up heading into California. Just in case Stewart wants to bust his ass again. Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com
7 Matt Kenseth 149 T – 8
After getting hit by the No. 33, Kenseth’s radio must have sounded like a GEICO commercial. Who just hit me? Timmy Hill. Who? Hill, driving the No. 33! WHO!? Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
8 Denny Hamlin 130 11
Think he’ll be motivated this weekend at ACS? It’s the one-year anniversary of the injury. Jim Noble, ESPN/Sirius XM NASCAR Radio/PRN
9 Kevin Harvick 115 6
His sponsor was Bud, but his car sure looked like a Jimmy John’s grill. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
10 Ryan Newman 110 T – 8
Don’t look now, but he’s 12 places ahead of the next closest Stewart-Haas driver in the points standings. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com
11 Kasey Kahne 107 13
The gap between the haves and have-nots is growing and the team needs to determine what side they’ll end up on. Andrew Maness, NASCARnomics.com
12 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 96 NA
A runner-up at Bristol. Also a runner-up in his relationship. Just like all men. Andrew Maness,
NASCARnomics.com
13 Kyle Busch 84 10
29th place at Bristol and 15th in points. Umm…time to panic maybe in the 18 camp? Justin Tucker, Frontstretch.com
14 Greg Biffle 66 15
No top 10’s since Daytona, while teammate Edwards goes on to win the race at Bristol. I know The Biff is a good driver, but I don’t know that he’s not already past his prime. Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com
15 Aric Almirola 47 NA
We were teased for a bit that the No. 43 was going to end up in Victory Lane at Bristol again. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com
Dropped Out: Jamie McMurray (12), Paul Menard (14)
Others Receiving Votes: Jamie McMurray (45), Marcos Ambrose (45), Kyle Larson (44), Tony Stewart (44), Brian Vickers (41), Austin Dillon (40), Clint Bowyer (17), Kurt Busch (14), Paul Menard (14), Danica Patrick (4), Casey Mears (2).
Who Voted: Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.comSummer Bedgood, Frontstretch.comKelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.comDwight Drum, RaceTake.comTony Lumbis, Frontstretch.comAndrew Maness, NASCARnomics.comMichael Mehedin, Frontstretch.comJim Noble, ESPN/Sirius XM NASCAR Radio/PRNMatt Taliaferro, Athlon SportsJustin Tucker, Frontstretch.comJeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com.

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