Race Weekend Central

The 10: Power Rankings Leaders Find Luck, Dust in Vegas

Typically, the phrase “eat my dust” is a joke when it comes to racing. However, on a wild Sunday in Las Vegas, the phrase was all too real.

After 400 miles of rainy, dusty, windy madness at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Brad Keselowski and the Blue Deuce rolled back in to Victory Lane for the first time in nearly a year.

Keselowski’s late moves pushed him past teammate Joey Logano and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, but was his Kobalt 400 win enough to propel him to the top of the Frontstretch Power Rankings?

Let’s find out.

POWER RANKINGS: Kobalt 400

1. KYLE BUSCH (190 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“RELAX, THESE ARE SPRINT CUP RANKINGS, NOT XFINITY SERIES RANKINGS.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

“Handled a really tough loss graciously, is the more mature Kyle Busch finally a reality?” – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch

2.  JIMMIE JOHNSON (162 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“No doubt about it, with this aero package, Johnson can practically mint his own money. The only thing that held him back he was TOO GOOD and Knaus didn’t need to throw any hail-marys to get Johnson back out in front. I bet if he had, they would be been in contention.” – Pete McCole, AutoRacing1.com

“Pressure is off now with win in Atlanta. Now go for wins and try things you can use later in the year. The No. 48 team is having fun.” – Matthew Dillner, NASCAR

3.  JOEY LOGANO (141 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“Whatever hiccups both he and teammate Brad Keselowski had speed-wise in Atlanta are clearly in the past following a Penske 1-2 finish.” – Kyle Pokrefky, The Fourth Turn

“Is owed by Brad for letting him pass when he did; better a Penske winner than a Gibbs driver, right Joey?” – Sean Fesko, Frontstretch

4.   KEVIN HARVICK (132 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“Didn’t have the best day and it cost him a bit in the points. He seems to like this package but has been struggling on the long runs. He’s won a Phoenix when it’s counted and knows how to get around the place.” – McCole

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Harvick lead every lap this Sunday at Phoenix, then tack on the extra 100 he never got to lead last fall.” – Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch

“I LIKE MEISHA TATE. CAN YOU TELL HER I SAID HI?” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

5.   BRAD KESELOWSKI (127 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“The Penske Posse is strong and this week it was led by the Duece leading that 1-2 finish.” – Dillner

“Impressive was his win, but even more so was stopping to pick up the American flag during his victory celebration.” – Fesko

“Probably could’ve used a good hangover recovery sponsor to go with all of that complimentary Miller Lite.” – Bearden

6.   KURT BUSCH (86 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“Side note: He should have won Phoenix last year in his first race back but had a tire issue.” – Jerry Jordan, Kick in the Tires

“After dominating early, Kurt’s handling changed like the Vegas weather after a penalty put him back in traffic.” – Toni Lumbis, Frontstretch

7.   MARTIN TRUEX, JR. (62 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“After nearly winning at Daytona and leading a handful of laps at Atlanta, Truex finished outside the top 10 in Vegas and never quite made it to the lead. All the same, I don’t think this will signal a downswing for FRR. They’ll be back.” – Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch

“Truex is still doing more with less and as the alliance with JGR blossoms, they will continue to get better” –  Brian Eberly, Motor Racing Digest

“Losing Cole Pearn for a week won’t affect them” – Jordan

8.   DALE EARNHARDT, JR. (44 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“Has had one of the better cars on the intermediate tracks this year. Won Phoenix last fall.” – Dustin Albino, Frontstretch

“NATIONWIDE HAS BEEN ON HIS SIDE THE LAST TWO WEEKS. THAT MEANS NO ACCIDENTS.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

9.   AUSTIN DILLON (41 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“Three top-10 finishes in three races have this team on the radar. A great lesson this week too when Austin came un-raveled a tad on the radio and Slugger Labbe stepped in. Then roles reversed.  Through it all, the No. 3 team overcame the circumstances for another fine finish.” – Dillner

“Early mistakes, a mid-race meltdown, and yet somehow a top-5 finish. I’m not sure if I’m talking about Austin Dillon or my career on NASCAR 15.” – Bearden

10. CARL EDWARDS  (32 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“Such a big proponent of the lower downforce package, I expected more out of Edwards at Las Vegas than an 18th-place result. Edwards did, however, have the most green-flag passes (82).” – Eberly

“The end result wasn’t what he was looking for exiting Las Vegas, but his performance through the race showed he still belongs in the top 10 of the power rankings.” – Pokrefky

Close, But No Cigar

Whether you’re an upcoming rookie or the Daytona 500 champion, it takes consistent success to stay among the 10 best in the business. Unfortunately for these two drivers, they haven’t quite reached that consistency. Better luck next week.

Denny Hamlin (31 Points, Finished 19th) – “They tried pulling a page out of Chad Knaus’ playbook and it didn’t work out. Sorry, Mike Wheeler – you’re a good Brock Osweiler, but you’re no Peyton Manning.” – McCole

Ryan Blaney (18 Points, Finished 6th) – “Earned his third top-10 finish in 21 career Sprint Cup Series races. The Penske affiliation seems to be working wonders for this team, but you have to think Blaney’s ability as a driver is a plus too.” – Bedgood

Others receiving votes: Matt Kenseth (15), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (9), Chase Elliott (3), Ryan Truex (2. No joke), “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas (1)

CONTRIBUTORS

Name Twitter
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 Gable N/A
Tony Lumbis @TonyLumbis
Toni Montgomery @ToniLMontgomery
Kevin Rutherford @surfwax83
Jason Schultz @NASCARJason
Joseph Wolkin @JosephNASCAR
Name Twitter Position/Description
AnnoyingRaceFan @AnnoyingRaceFan I’M @annoyingracefan ON TWITTER (AND INSTAGRAM). PEOPLE CALL ME ARF. I’M A RELATIVE NOBODY.
MatthewDillner @MatthewDillner NASCAR
Brian Eberly @beberly18 Writer, Rubbings Racing, Motor Racing Digest
Mike Hembree @MikeHembree Writer, USA Today
Ben Hinc @lemonlovr Owner, The Apex
Jerry Jordan @kicknthetires Owner, Kicknthetires.Net
Pete McCole @PeteMcCole NASCAR Writer, AutoRacing1.com
The Orange Cone @TheOrangeCone I am an orange traffic cone.
Kyle Pokrefky @KPokrefky Writer, The Fourth Turn
Reid Spencer @Reid_Spencer Lead Writer, NASCAR Wire Service
Doug Turnbull @DougTurnbull Announcer, PRN Live, Atlanta Motor Speedway
Jim Utter @jim_utter NASCAR 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. 

About the author

A graduate of Ball State, Aaron rejoins Frontstretch for his second season in 2016 following a successful year that included covering seven races and starting the popular "Two-Headed Monster" column in 2015. Now in his third year of covering motorsports, Aaron serves as an Assistant Editor for Frontstretch while also contributing to other popular sites including Speed51 and The Apex. He encourages you to come say hi when you see him at the track.

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