NASCAR Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 after Fontana

 

Frontstretch Power Rankings
The name of the game in California was tires, tires, tires! Green flag runs never lasted more than 25
laps. Like clockwork, Goodyear flats arose, and it seemed like no one was safe. Every team, it seemed, couldn’t escape the problem. Drivers from Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing, Penske Racing, Roush Fenway, Michael Waltrip Racing and others were all on pit road – or in the wall – with flat tires.Almost every ranked driver after Bristol had an issue on Sunday, including six of the top 10 who experienced at least one blowout. Joey Logano also lost a number of laps in the garage, changing a rear gear while Kasey Kahne – coming off back-to-back eighth-place finishes – broke a rear hub while running inside the top 10.One of the biggest surprises last week was the absence of Denny Hamlin, who was returning to the site of his vicious 2013 wreck that sidelined him for a number of weeks. Hamlin withdrew mere hours before the race, citing a sinus infection which affected his vision. Sam Hornish, Jr. drove the No. 11 car while Hamlin was evaluated at a local hospital.
Many drivers are looking to rebound this week at Martinsville Speedway, where hot tempers and dented fenders have become the norm. With so many drivers experiencing issues in California, let’s see where your favorite driver fell in this week’s 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 26th

Rank

Driver

(First Place Votes)

Votes

Last Week

1  Carl Edwards (6) 203 2
He said Fontana would show Roush Fenway where they stacked up. Considering he scratched his way to 10th and his teammates finished worse than 30th, the No. 99 team must be in decent shape. Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com
2  Jeff Gordon (4) 201 4
Looked like he had a win wrapped up, only to be foiled by a Bowyer spin again. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com
3 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 198 3
Don’t fret despite Junior’s two straight finishes outside the top 2. He’ll be back on point come Martinsville. Kevin Rutherford, Frontstretch.com
4 Brad Keselowski (1) 175 1
Ran very well, but just couldn’t figure out how to conserve the left-rear tire. He blew no less than four of them during the weekend. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
5 Matt Kenseth 163 5
I mean, I know Matt is quiet. But THIS quiet? He’s in the top 5 in points, and I can’t remember anything he’s done so far this year. He’s not flying below the radar – he’s subterranean! Jim Noble, ESPN/Sirius XM NASCAR Radio/PRN
6 Jimmie Johnson 162 7
Tire issues last two races, but had the fastest car. Preview of things to come this summer as they science out their setups for the Chase. Vito Pugliese, Frontstretch.com
7 Kyle Busch 140 13
Kevin Harvick might be the closer, but Kyle is quickly becoming the one to watch when things get crazy. Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com
8 Joey Logano 123 6
Even if Hamlin wasn’t around to extract some revenge, Logano had plenty of early bad luck anyway. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com
9 Tony Stewart 118 N/A
Tony used to say the first five NSCS races don’t mean much. But Sunday, after the Auto Club 400 he was beaming like a rookie talking about coming in fifth. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
10 Kyle Larson 112 N/A
Larson and Busch are looking to bring back the “Dale” and “Dale” show, this time as “Kyle” and “Kyle.” Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
11 Ryan Newman 100 10
Hands down Newman is one of the biggest surprises in 2014. 20th on Sunday not indicative of how good he was at Fontana. Was a top-10 car most of the day. Justin Tucker, Frontstretch.com
12 Austin Dillon 85 N/A
Killing ‘em with consistency, like he did down in both Nationwide and Trucks. Only time will tell if a Terry Labonte style of driving, though, will be good enough for those old-time fans of the No. 3. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
13 Jamie McMurray 81 N/A
It’ll take some more top 10s, and a couple of chances at a win – but McMurray is my early pick for Comeback Driver of the Year. Jim Noble, ESPN/Sirius XM NASCAR Radio/PRN
14 Brian Vickers 72 N/A
Who thought he’d be Michael Waltrip Racing’s best driver five races in? Kevin Rutherford, Frontstretch.com
15 Kevin Harvick 69 9
At some point the aggressive set-up and go-for-it mentality might start to take a toll if it doesn’t produce results. Vito Pugliese, Frontstretch.com
Dropped Out: Denny Hamlin (8), Kasey Kahne (11), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (12), Greg Biffle (14), Aric Almirola (15)
Others Receiving Votes: Paul Menard (68), Kurt Busch (49), Kasey Kahne (38), AJ Allmendinger (22), Denny Hamlin (22), Greg Biffle (22), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (21), Clint Bowyer (20), Danica Patrick (19), Sam Hornish, Jr. (9), Marcos Ambrose (8), Casey Mears (7), Cole Whitt (2), Aric Almirola (1).
Who Voted: Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com; Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com; Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com; Dwight Drum, Racetake.com; Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com; Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com; Jim Noble, ESPN/Sirius XM NASCAR Radio/PRN; Vito Pugliese, Frontstretch.com; Kevin Rutherford, Frontstretch.com; Justin Tucker, Frontstretch.com; Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com.

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