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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

The 10: Power Ranking Order Slides Around After Atlanta

Well, that was fun.

From long green-flag runs to terms like tire conservation and driving through the field, Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway was a throwback to the good ol’ days for many fans. Why, some might even call it quintessential NASCAR. 

The new, low-downforce package and the old racing surface at Atlanta formed a near-perfect combination for the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, allowing for passing and placing things in the driver’s hands – with the exception of Matt Kenseth, that is.

As they’ve done many times in the past, Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus played the new rules to perfection to claim Johnson’s 76th-career victory.

The feat managed to both tie Johnson with Dale Earnhardt on the all-time charts and bring out the #BlameJJ brigade in full force, but was it enough to garner Johnson the (not so) coveted top spot on the Frontstretch Power Rankings?

Let’s find out.

Power Rankings: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

1. Kyle Busch (216 Points, +1)

2016 NASCAR CUP Kyle Busch headshot NASCAR
(Photo: NASCAR)

Result: 3rd

Fast everywhere and came back after his pole time was disallowed.  Showed much poise all weekend. – Matthew Dillner, NASCAR

The best in the series despite zero wins? Haha, never mind, we’re racing at Las Vegas this weekend. – Kevin Rutherford, Frontstretch

Race-high 136 green flag passes at Atlanta. – Brian Eberly, Motor Racing Digest

2. Martin Truex, Jr. (174 Points, +1)

2016 NASCAR CUP Martin Truex Jr headshot NASCAR
(Photo: NASCAR)

Result: 7th

He led 34 laps and Furniture Row Racing is talking about how they still think they can get better. One has to wonder how long before they get to victory lane and if 2016 will be an improvement over last year for this team. – Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch

New manufacturer growing pains? Hardly. – Sean Fesko, Frontstretch

3. Kevin Harvick (171 Points, +1)

2016 NASCAR CUP Kevin Harvick headshot NASCAR
(Photo: NASCAR)

Result: 6th

Pretty sure they should change Happy’s pit sign to the new upside-down smilie face emoji after pit strategy cost him another victory. – Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch

He was the car to beat on Sunday, but he and his team got hoodwinked by the No. 48’s pit strategy. He’s another driver who should do well under this rules package. – Peter McCole, AutoRacing1

Harvick had the dominant car and looked like a winner until Knaus and Co. stole it from him. Needs to start closing the deal or we may all start associating The Closer with a long-since-canceled TNT drama again. – @TheOrangeCone

4. Jimmie Johnson (154 Points, +6)

2016 NASCAR CUP Jimmie Johnson headshot NASCAR
(Photo: NASCAR)

Result: 1st

“Chad Knaus’ genius move coupled with Johnson’s late-race management skills not only gave the No. 48 team a win, but plenty of momentum heading west. Expect strong results out of the team in the next three races.” – Kyle Pokrefky, The Fourth Turn

76 WINS BUT ONLY ONE THIS YEAR. STEP IT UP, HAWAIIAN PIZZA LOVER. – @AnnoyingRaceFan

5. Carl Edwards (120 Points, +2)

2016 NASCAR CUP Carl Edwards headshot NASCAR
(Photo: NASCAR)

Result: 5th

Edwards has been quiet this season, but very consistent.  He’ll be a force to be reckoned with later in the year. – Phil Allaway, Frontstretch

One of only two drivers with top 5s in both 2016 races. one of only three drivers to run in the top 15 for all 330 laps at Atlanta. – Eberly

HE HAS DOCSIS 3.0 SPEEDS IN THE ARRIS CAR (AM I RIGHT? HAHA.). – @AnnoyingRaceFan

6. Denny Hamlin (94 Points, -5)

2016 NASCAR CUP Denny Hamlin headshot NASCAR
(Photo: NASCAR)

Result: 16th

Hamlin beat Kenseth by three spots and he didn’t have a pit road violation for some obscure rule. – Mike Neff, Frontstretch

Not sure if 16 was Hamlin’s finishing position or how many hours behind he is on sleep. – Bearden

Was Atlanta a fluke? Disappointing run throughout the weekend, but he’s the 500 winner. – Dustin Albino, Frontstretch

7. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (79 Points, +2)

2016 NASCAR CUP Dale Earnhardt Jr headshot NASCAR
(Photo: NASCAR)

Result: 2nd

Felt a bit like Talladega seeing Jr. charge out of nowhere in the closing laps. – Tony Lumbis

At least Jr didn’t have to make a claim with his sponsor after the race this week. Maybe a hint that racing cars without odd names is a good idea. – @TheOrangeCone

8. Kurt Busch (76 Points, Prev. Unranked)

2016 NASCAR CUP Kurt Busch headshot NASCAR
(Photo: NASCAR)

Result: 4th

Look for him to step out of his brother’s shadow this weekend at his home track. Well, unless Kyle has something to say about that. – Rutherford

Won the pole for the race after his brother’s time was disallowed, led 62 laps, and sort of disappeared after that. Still finished fourth. This quiet consistency and strength is exactly what makes Busch such a championship threat. – Bedgood

8. Matt Kenseth (43 Points, -3)

2016 NASCAR CUP Matt Kenseth headshot NASCAR
(Photo: NASCAR)

Result: 19th

Results sheet doesn’t show the power the No. 20 team has. They belong on this list for sure. – Dillner

If NASCAR games had an awareness stat like Madden, I’m pretty sure Kenseth and co. would be a solid 60. – Bearden

10. Joey Logano (44 Points, -5)

2016 NASCAR CUP Joey Logano headshot NASCAR
(Photo: NASCAR)

Result: 12th

Did a good job working his way through the field, but the pit road penalty put him too far behind.  – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch

I’D RANK HIM HIGHER IF HE HAD MORE HAIR. – @AnnoyingRaceFan

Close, But No Cigar 

These two drivers slid just a bit too far in Georgia. Both of them have three years of experience or less in the Sprint Cup Series, and therefore haven’t seen much of this style of racing, so I guess we can give them a mulligan for now. After all, neither of them look old enough for a cigar.

Chase Elliott (14 Points, Finished 8th) – A tougher race package, longer mileage and better competition was no match for the hometown rookie – he finished eighth – Fesko

Austin Dillon (12 Points, Finished 11th) – Is Richard Childress Racing finally on the rise? – Rutherford

Others receiving votes: Brad Keselowski (11), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (5), Donald Trump (2… You really can’t escape him anywhere, can you?), Aric Almirola/Matt Kenseth’s wedge wrench (1).

Contributors

Frontstretch

NameTwitter
Dustin Albino@DustinAlbino
Phil Allaway@Critic84
Aaron Bearden@AaronBearden93
Summer Bedgood@SummerBedgood
Tom Bowles@NASCARBowles
Greg Davis@GregMDavis
Sean Fesko@TheWriterSean
Michael Finley@FinleyFactor
Bryan GableN/A
Tony Lumbis@TonyLumbis
Toni Montgomery@ToniLMontgomery
Kevin Rutherford@surfwax83
Jason Schultz@NASCARJason
Joseph Wolkin@JosephNASCAR

Guests

NameTwitterPosition/Description
AnnoyingRaceFan @AnnoyingRaceFan I’M @annoyingracefan ON TWITTER (AND INSTAGRAM). PEOPLE CALL ME ARF. I’M A RELATIVE NOBODY.
MatthewDillner@MatthewDillnerNASCAR
Brian Eberly@beberly18Writer, Rubbings Racing, Motor Racing Digest
Mike Hembree@MikeHembreeWriter, USA Today
Ben Hinc@lemonlovrOwner, The Apex
Jerry Jordan@kicknthetiresOwner, Kicknthetires.Net
Pete McCole@PeteMcColeNASCAR Writer, AutoRacing1.com
The Orange Cone@TheOrangeConeI am an orange traffic cone.
Kyle Pokrefky@KPokrefkyWriter, The Fourth Turn
Reid Spencer@Reid_SpencerLead Writer, NASCAR Wire Service
Doug Turnbull@DougTurnbullAnnouncer, PRN Live, Atlanta Motor Speedway
Jim Utter@jim_utterNASCAR Editor, Motorsport.com

How they’re made: Following the conclusion of each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, members of a voting panel including Frontstretch writers, members of accredited media including Motorsport, NASCAR and USA Today, as well as writers from other sites and social media favorites, submit their top 10 drivers for the Power Rankings. The drivers are then given points based off their position, with first place getting 10 points, and each subsequent driver getting one few point until the 10th-place driver, who gets a lone point. Points are then tallied, and the rankings are created.

Do you agree with our rankings? Think someone got snubbed, or that one of the top drivers is overrated? Let us know in the comments, and tell others what your top 10 would be. 

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