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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

The 10: NASCAR Power Rankings Pre-Monster Mile

 Saturday was an interesting night at Kansas Speedway.

Martin Truex, Jr. dominated nearly the entire race just to fall victim to circumstances outside of his control once again. Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski threw their races away going for broke in the late stages. Ryan Blaney drove the kind of consistent, impressive race that the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford hasn’t seen since legends like David Pearson and Neil Bonnett stepped into the cockpit.

Craziest of all, though, was Kyle Busch, who finally won in Kansas.

With his third victory of the season, the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series easily held on to the top spot in the Frontstretch Power Rankings. Beyond Rowdy, though, things get a little murkier.

POWER RANKINGS: GoBowling.com 400

1. KYLE BUSCH (169 POINTS, No Change)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“Who knew the curse of David Reutimann would last as long as it did? Seriously, if Kyle Busch is winning Kansas (Kansas!) you know this No. 18 team is chugging along at about ten cylinders — not eight. Watch out.” – Tom Bowles, Frontstretch

“Nothing gets Busch going like a good challenge. Broken leg? No problem. Come back from that and win your first title? Done. Win at a track you’ve never won at before? Check! OK, what’s next?? Bet we’ll find out in three weeks at Charlotte.” – Pete McCole, AutoRacing1.com

2. KEVIN HARVICK (140 POINTS, No Change)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
 
“Didn’t lead a lap, but jumped 24 spots from the start of the race to finish second.” – Sean Fesko, Frontstretch
Another second-place run kept Happy atop the points standings (not that it matters), but the team has to feel like they let another one slip away after Harvick hit debris and failed to get around Rowdy late. Until they can win at a track that isn’t Phoenix, picking Harvick as a title favorite seems a bit much. – Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch

3.  CARL EDWARDS (110 POINTS, No Change)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“With all the problems he had in Kansas and still finished 11th. Impressive.” – Dustin Albino, Frontstretch
“Hometown boy wasn’t the hometown hero Saturday night. But he remains in the best position to challenge Busch out of the JGR camp.” – Bowles

4.   KURT BUSCH (109 POINTS, +2)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“THE ONLY THING MORE CONSISTENT THAN A LARRY MCREYNOLDS CAUTION IS KURT BUSH FINISHING IN THE TOP FIVE” – @AnnoyingRaceFan
“He has quietly gotten off to an incredible start to the year.” – Albino

5.  BRAD KESELOWSKI (92 POINTS, -1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

 An off-evening for the six-time champion.  Dealt with an ill-handling car and got himself busted for speeding in the pits late.” – Phil Allaway, Frontstretch

“Bad Brad looked strong for awhile but his late-race spin put him too far back” – Fesko

6.   JIMMIE JOHNSON (81 POINTS, -1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“It seems like this season, Johnson has had two sides – Top-five Jimmie and NOT top-five Jimmie. Four finishes in the top five, and six races where he was ninth or worse. There’s no in-between, yet somehow he’s still in the top-five in points.” – McCole

“What a peculiar season for six-time. At the end of the West Coast swing, most thought Superman was going to be unbeatable. Now he doesn’t seem able to rise above mediocrity. A trip to Dover, Delaware may be just what the doctor ordered.” – Bearden

7.   AUSTIN DILLON (46 POINTS, +2)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“If he makes the Chase on points, these last two weekends will be a big reason why.” – Ryan Gable, Frontstretch
“Most improved driver this year.” – Albino
“Finally doing the No. 3 proud. Now can he get it back into victory lane for the first time since Talladega in 2000?” – Bearden

8.   CHASE ELLIOTT (45 POINTS, -1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
 
“Five straight top-12 finishes have this rookie knocking on the door of Victory Lane. Will it happen? Either way, the Chase is a strong possibility which would exceed expectations in the No. 24 camp.” – Bowles
“Heard Elliott’s car Saturday night described as a “pile of garbage.”  If you’re finishing ninth with a pile of garbage for a race car, you’re really going somewhere.” – Allaway
“For the last month he has been the best driver at Hendrick Motorsports.” – Albino

9.   MARTIN TRUEX, JR (42 POINTS, Prev. Unranked))

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“While the end result from Kansas didn’t show it, it’s clear that the new Furniture Row-Joe Gibbs alliance is working wonders for the No. 78 team.” – Kyle Pokrefky, The Fourth Turn
“I think Truex is going to have to learn how to sneak up on these wins, “closer style” because domination just doesn’t work for him.” –  Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch

10. RYAN BLANEY (29 POINTS, Prev. Unranked)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“HE DIDN’T NEED A CHARTER TO FINISH FIFTH.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

“He may be a frequent sight on or near the Chase bubble in the coming weeks.” – Gable

CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR

These two rivers have won two of the last three Daytona 500s, but it’s going to take more than resting on past accomplishments to work their way into the Chase, and up the Power Rankings.

Joey Logano (26 Points, Finished th) – Wrong place, wrong time for Logano, which is disappointing considering the only other time he got any attention from the media was when they kept bringing up his “feud” with Matt Kenseth” –  McCole

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (23 Points, Finished th) – “I THINK HE’S THANKFUL HE’S NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

Others receiving votes: Denny Hamlin (14), Matt Kenseth (10), Ryan Newman (3), Kyle Larson (2), Tony Stewart (1)

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