Kevin Harvick came awfully close to sweeping the west coast swing but had to battle his Stewart-Haas teammate Kurt Busch to do so. What they didn’t see was Brad Keselowski and his four fresh tires (Harvick and Busch only took two) who passed them both on the second green-white-checkered finish to score his first win of 2015. Keselowski led only one lap – the one that mattered – and now both Team Penske drivers are now locked into the Chase.
There has been a lot of debate already about NASCAR and its debris caution affecting the outcome of the race. Sprint Cup Series Managing Director, Richard Buck, answered questions following the race regarding the decision to throw debris cautions but not to throw a caution when Greg Biffle crashed on the frontstretch after the field took the white flag. NASCAR’s decision to finish the race under green was also defended by Steve O’Donnell.
After three weeks on the west coast, teams head back to the east coast to the first short track race of the season at Martinsville Speedway. While teams make the trek across the country, see if your favorite driver made the top 15.
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!
Just think how disappointing it’s going to be when he finishes third. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
First Place Votes: 7
Best of the non-Chevy teams so far. Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com
All the talk has been about his Penske teammate since Joey Logano won the Daytona 500, but Keselowski picked up his first win at California. If you haven’t noticed, he also has four top-10 finishes in his five starts. He’s lurking. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway
Sterling Marlin once called Greg Biffle a “bug-eyed dummy.” Earnhardt wishes he’d thought of it first after a bad block left him scrambling. Amy Henderson, Frontstretch.com
Truex is for real this season and he has quite an inspiration to succeed in girlfriend Sherry Pollex. He joined Harvick and Logano as the only drivers to record top-10 finishes in all five starts this season. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway
After scoring a dominant win at Atlanta, many expected Johnson to take over, but Sunday’s ninth-place finish was his only top 10 on the west coast swing. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch.com
Ryan Newman seems to be repeating his consistent 2014 results. A win would really boost his steady efforts. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Shocked the entire NASCAR world by not only missing all of the hard wall spots at a track, but also finished the race. Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com
California girls will have to wait another year. Kasey Kahne struggled to a 17th-place finish at Fontana, dropping him to eighth in points. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch.com
Kenseth led 43 laps and looked to be in position to win his first race since 2013 when a mechanical failure ruined everything. Still, Joe Gibbs Racing fans have something to be optimistic about. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch.com
Paul Menard would be a great guy to follow through speed traps on highways. He keeps slipping under the radar and logging top 10s. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
A couple weeks ago, Kevin Harvick was a huge title favorite. Now his teammate wants that distinction and is working hard on taking it. Amy Henderson, Frontstretch.com
First Place Votes: 1
Aric Almirola continues to take the King’s banner to upper-level results. Another win would help shine that crown a bit. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Good to see Hamlin walk away from Fontana knowing he will race next weekend at Martinsville. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com
After a great start to the season, Allmendinger fell back to Earth Sunday after the engine turned traitor in the first 10 laps. No real idea what the team could have accomplished on all eight cylinders. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
Others Receiving Votes: Carl Edwards (42), Jamie McMurray (37), Kyle Larson (28), Justin Allgaier (24), Austin Dillon (21), David Ragan (16), Casey Mears (13), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (8), Clint Bowyer (7), Tony Stewart (4), Chris Buescher (2), Greg Biffle (2).
Participants: Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com; Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch.com; Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com; Amy Henderson, Frontstretch.com; Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com; Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com; Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com; Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway