The 10: Top Teams After the Tricky Triangle

After steady rain, brief confusion as to whether Jeff Gordon was back in the No. 24 and a few thousand “sick” days at work, NASCAR and its fans finally got to enjoy 400 miles of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series action at Pocono Raceway.

In the end, the trick to the Tricky Triangle proved to be fuel mileage, as the entire field – minus a couple drivers mid-pack – stretched their tanks for as many as 41 laps around the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

From wrecks-a-plenty to a dominant rookie, there was a lot to keep track of in the ordinarily mundane event. But our group still managed to come up with their top 10s after a long weekend in Pennsylvania, and even got them in for the usual deadline.

But enough about them, let’s get to the rankings.

POWER RANKINGS: Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400 Edition

1. KURT BUSCH (126 POINTS, +2)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Finally in the win column after flying under the radar for weeks. Everything is clicking for this team and for Busch. Now – if he can just keep himself “on track” away from the track, he might be one to watch out for in the Chase.” – Pete McCole, AutoRacing1.com
“TAKE ANOTHER WEEK OFF, TONY GIBSON. I’M KIDDING. MAYBE.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

2. KEVIN HARVICK (107 POINTS, -1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Though this means little in the grand scheme of the Chase, Harvick is still leading the points over teammate Kurt Busch. For all the talk of the strength of the Toyotas, Chevrolet and Stewart-Haas Racing are still showing the consistency needed to win championships.” – Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch
“’Happy’ had an uncharacteristically quiet fourth-place run at Pocono, but still got a small victory in the form of a teammate in the Chase. Much of the season talk has been on Toyota, but Harvick and Kurt Busch lead the way in the series standings.” – Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch

3.  BRAD KESELOWSKI (101 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Somebody’s got to take their team to the hockey rink and make them learn how to make their hip checks a little less obvious next time.” – Tom Bowles, Frontstretch

“He was heading to the lead and ran out of laps. He’s another one to watch this weekend.” – Jerry Jordan, Kickin’ the Tires

“I GUESS HE GOT NIPPLE RINGS DURING THE RACE. WAIT, HIS CAR HAD BODY MODIFICATIONS? THAT MAKES MORE SENSE.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

4.   CARL EDWARDS (70 POINTS, +2)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Got into a minor slump after a great start to the season.  Is he back on track now?” – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch

“He had a solid top-10 finish but otherwise wasn’t a factor in the race. Has Edwards lost the wind in his sails or is this just a temporary lapse? I guess time will tell.” – Bedgood

5.  CHASE ELLIOTT (69 POINTS, +3)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“Elliott continues to impress this season and easily could have won the race at Pocono. I’d say watch for him when the series returns to the track in a few weeks, but honestly, no one would be surprised if he wins before then.” – Bedgood

“A few confused fans thought Jeff Gordon was back in the No. 24 when FOX Sports 1 aired the 2015 Pocono race during Sunday’s rain delay. Then Monday came around and we all did a double take when the rookie Elliott proceeded to dominate a good portion of the race.” – Bearden

6.   KYLE BUSCH (61 POINTS, -1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

 “Not sure what bizarro world we were exactly in on Monday with the Toyotas not being the frontrunners.” – Kyle Pokrefky, The Fourth Turn

“He had a bad day at Pocono but that just means he’ll bounce back with vengeance.” – ‘ Jordan

7.   MARTIN TRUEX, JR. (49 POINTS, -5)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“MATT DIBENEDID MARTIN IN ON PIT ROAD.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan
You really thought one win would take away years’ worth of a bad luck curse? It’s gonna take more than one….” – Bowles

8.   MATT KENSETH (46 POINTS, +2)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“He may be the senior driver in the series, but his right foot can mash the pedal as good as anyone.” – Jordan
“Here’s a weird stat: In 120 points races with JGR, Kenseth has finished in seventh 13 times, including the last two races.  In that same time, he has finished 8th only once, over three years ago.” – Gable

9.   DALE EARNHARDT, JR. (45 POINTS, Prev. Unranked)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“HE DROVE THE AXALTA “WE PAINT SECOND-PLACE FINISHERS” CAR.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

“A strong run at a track he swept at in 2014 puts Earnhardt Jr. in a good position heading into a track he’s also won twice at.” – Pokrefky

10. JOEY LOGANO (42 POINTS, -1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“If you play bumper cars with Ryan Newman, guess what? You wind up with no rear bumper. Simple and easy lesson learned….” – Bowles
“Thanks to Kurt Busch’s triumph, Sliced Bread will now likely assume the roll of “top championship-caliber driver expected to win soon.” Sorry about the extra press, Logano. Not that it’ll matter. Given this team’s track record, a win should come soon.” – Bearden

CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR

Less than a decade ago these two drivers were dueling down the stretch for a championship. Now they find themselves fighting to claw their way back into our Power Rankings. Better luck in Michigan, gentlemen…

Jimmie Johnson (29 Points) –  “Looked to be a strong contender until that crash on the restart and then he parked it. Been seeing a lot of that lately from the guys already locked in The Chase (see Kyle Busch) – if they’re not in contention late in the race…park it.” – McCole

Denny Hamlin (12 Points) – “Not the typical Pocono showing for Hamlin. Ahh well, as Milli Vanilli said – but may not have sung – ‘Blame it on the rain.’” – Bearden

Others receiving votes: Ryan Blaney (9), Kyle Larson (5), Kasey Kahne (4), Mother Nature (1)

Contributors

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
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 fewer 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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kb

Tommy Bowles, what a bunch of crock regarding Logano, oh please, please, please do stop the insanity and bias. Hypocrite.

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