It was a wild race at Pocono from the drop of the green flag and no one knew who was going to win until the checkered flag flew. In the end, Matt Kenseth played the fuel strategy game perfectly. With two laps to go, he came from fourth to pass Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., who all ran out of fuel.
The first half of the race was marred by cautions, including a scary single-car accident involving Kasey Kahne who spun off turn 3, missed the inside wall and slammed hard into the pit-road retaining wall, sending helmets flying and crew members scrambling. Fortunately there were no injuries, except to Kahne’s potential Chase berth as he would finish a disappointing 43rd.
It was a tough day for the top 10 in Power Rankings after Indy as only four drivers (Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson) finished in the top 10 at Pocono. A majority of the others ran out of gas or were involved in on-track incidents.
Next up, teams head to the second and final road course at Watkins Glen. See if your favorite driver made the cut 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!
Sunday was a flashback to the early part of last season for Harvick. A very quick, potentially dominant car struck down by engine problems in the first quarter of the race. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
First Place Votes: 3
On paper, it doesn’t look like Logano is suffering from the Daytona 500 curse. But to come so close to victory, so many times and fall short… could you imagine if he didn’t have that win? Tom Bowles, Frontstretch
Privately, NASCAR has to be relieved that Busch’s hot streak got cool in Pocono. Having the same driver, or team, win too often is not desirable in any sport. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
First Place Votes: 1
Earnhardt Jr. rode a wave of bad luck to a top-five finish Sunday. It’s that kind of luck that bodes well in the Chase. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
First Place Votes: 1
Six-time is simply biding time during this NASCAR summer stretch of non-Chase tracks. The question is just how much crew chief Chad Knaus is hiding up his sleeve for September. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch
All eyes have been on Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing – and rightfully so – but keep an eye on Kenseth as the entire organization has enjoyed a resurgence since the younger Busch’s return to action. Some may say the win at Pocono was lucky with the leaders running out of fuel, but they had a good game plan, strong car and Kenseth was in the right position at the right time. The veteran is quietly putting together another solid season. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway
First Place Votes: 1
It was turning out to be a nightmarish weekend at Pocono for Keselowski – confrontation with Matt Crafton in the truck race and then hitting two crew members on a pit stop – but he was able to rebound for a runner-up finish to Kenseth. It was his second runner-up finish in the last three races and fourth consecutive top-10 effort. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway
Truex showed the most speed out of his No. 78 car since winning Pocono in June. But will Toyota’s courtship turn distracting? Tom Bowles, Frontstretch
Is this the year that the Busch brothers battle it out for the championship in Homestead? Kurt Busch might be there at the end even if brother Kyle gets on another hot streak. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Gordon would relish a win in his final season, but few fans will moan if he makes the Chase without winning. Right now he’s on track to be a Chase contender. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Edwards continues to rebound from a poor start to the season and gaining some momentum for the Chase. He finished 10th at Pocono for his third top-10 performance in the last four races after just two in the first 17 races, although one of those was that valuable win at Charlotte. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway
Shifting gears proved to be a problem for Hamlin at Pocono. But if I were him, I’d be more concerned with JGR’s shift of future plans toward Erik Jones. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch
Starting to perform better, although he’s not quite sure who he is performing for these days. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
Another so-so day but sits 11th in points, the first driver without a win in the Chase. Will need better than a 15th-place finish, though, over the next five races. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch
11th-place result was his best Pocono performance in three years. Big moment for Menard as he clears hurdle after hurdle en route to making his first Chase. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch