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NASCAR Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Martinsville

Power RankingsSix races, six winners and five teams virtually locked into the Chase. If you’re a fan of parity, no doubt, it’s an impressive start to the 2014 NASCAR season. Kurt Busch was the latest addition, able to control his well-documented temper after an early pit road incident with Brad Keselowski. He stayed focused, fought hard all day, then ran down and passed Mr. Martinsville – Jimmie Johnson – for his first win at Stewart-Haas Racing and first in 83 races.

A number of the top Power Ranking drivers reasserted themselves after Fontana’s tire issues. Jimmie Johnson led the most laps…again… but finished second, leaving skeptics to wonder when he will win his first race of 2014. Throw sixth-place Matt Kenseth – who won the most 2013 events – into that conversation as well. After multiple poor finishes, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kevin Harvick returned to normalcy and nabbed top-10 results. Plus, Power Rankings upstart Petty Motorsports is back in the news for all the right reasons. They are the only team to have its drivers finish inside the top 10 in both short track races this season (Bristol and Martinsville).

Next up is the high-speed Texas Motor Speedway. But before we pack our cowboy boots, see how your favorite driver fared 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: April 1st

Rank

Driver (First Place Votes)

Votes

Last Week

1  Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (8) 178 3
Earnhardt Jr. is continuing the consistency that was his hallmark last year, with the addition of that all-important win in February’s Daytona 500. He is going to be a tough cookie to beat. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
2 Jimmie Johnson 155 6
No, it wasn’t a dream – it really did rain, snow and Jimmie Johnson got beat at Martinsville. Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com
3 Carl Edwards 149 1
Texas will answer some questions about the Roush cars. Do they truly have the speed to be considered elite? Jim Noble, ESPN/Sirius XM NASCAR Radio/PRN
4 Jeff Gordon 146 2
Not sure what’s more surprising: Gordon not leading a lap at Martinsville or Gordon finishing outside the top 10 at Martinsville? Justin Tucker, Frontstretch.com
5 Matt Kenseth (1) 143 5
After constantly being compared to Matt’s old crew – the “Killer Bees” – and their quick stops, the No. 20 team upped the ante and told Matt they could pull off just as quick of a stop… backwards. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
T – 6 Joey Logano 124 8
Has avoided getting anybody mad so far this season, but looking for a win, too. Jeff Wolfe,
Frontstretch.com
T – 6 Kyle Busch 124 7
The No. 18 team was admittedly “experimenting” at Martinsville. Do they do the same at Texas? Jim Noble, ESPN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio/PRN
8 Brad Keselowski 107 4
Apparently BK feels Kurt Busch has wronged him too many times. Sounds a little like premeditated justification. In other words, he’s taking a page out of Jeff Gordon’s book on Clint Bowyer. Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com
9 Kurt Busch 95 N/A
Did something that Jimmy Spencer was never able to do – take No. 41 to Victory Lane. You’ve truly come full-circle, Radio Sweetheart. Vito Pugliese, Frontstretch.com
10 Austin Dillon 81 12
Slow and steady may not win pre-Chase races, but it’s going to win Rookie of the Year in 2014. Vito Pugliese, Frontstretch.com
11 Marcos Ambrose 76 N/A
With his performance to this point, plus a strong possibility of a win at one of the two road courses, Marcos could seriously put Petty Motorsports back into the Chase. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com
12 Brian Vickers 68 14
Stuck his nose up there with the leaders a couple of times Sunday — just couldn’t stay up there. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com
T – 13 Kevin Harvick 60 15
After three straight finishes outside the top 35, fans were once again saying, “Where did he come from?” when Harvick broke into the top 10 at Martinsville. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
T – 13 Denny Hamlin 60 N/A
A lot of “bark” at Martinsville, not much “bite.” Jim Noble, ESPN/Sirius XM NASCAR Radio/PRN
15 Ryan Newman 55 11
Hasn’t been a big threat to win yet, but still five places ahead of the closest Stewart-Haas driver in the standings. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com
Dropped Out: Tony Stewart (9), Kyle Larson (10), Jamie McMurray (13).
Others Receiving Votes: Tony Stewart (49), AJ Allmendinger (45), Paul Menard (45), Clint Bowyer (41), Aric Almirola (27), Kyle Larson (23), Greg Biffle (20), Jamie McMurray (8), Kasey Kahne (8), Casey Mears (1), Danica Patrick (1).
Who Voted: Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.comKelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.comDwight Drum, RaceTake.comTony Lumbis, Frontstretch.comMichael Mehedin, Frontstretch.comJim Noble, ESPN/Sirius XM NASCAR Radio/PRNVito Pugliese, Frontstretch.comJustin Tucker, Frontstretch.comJeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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