NASCAR Race Weekend Central

The 10: Smoke Show in Sonoma

How about that. He actually did it.

Tony Stewart held off Martin Truex, Jr., and used a well-time body slam to get the best of Denny Hamlin, capturing a win for the third time in his 17-year career at Sonoma Raceway.

Things got interesting behind Smoke, too. Hamlin, typically an afterthought on road courses, came one turn short of his first win. Joey Logano earned yet another top five and suddenly looks like a road course ace. Truex rode aggression and a good car to a top five. Drivers like A.J. Allmendinger and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., showed speed early before issues marred their days late.

That all said, picking a top 10 for this week’s power rankings was no small task. But that’s what our contributors have to do, so they gave it their best shot.

Here’s what they came up with:

POWER RANKINGS: Toyota/Save Mart 350  Edition

1. KEVIN HARVICK (116 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“He’s still number one in the points standings, and that probably will not change after Daytona.” – Bryan Gable
“The only newsworthy note for Harvick in Sonoma was that his seventh-place finish netted fans another Bloomin’ Monday, and that’s just fine with me.” – Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch

“HE TOOK A PICTURE OF HIS BURNED HEELS AFTER THE RACE. TWO WORDS: PED EGG.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

2.  KURT BUSCH (99 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“The last time Kurt Busch finished outside the top 10, there was no such thing as a presumptive Republican nominee for President, we had no college basketball national champion and there was still snow on the ground in several states. This may be the most consistent stretch of his career.” – Tom Bowles, Frontstretch
“After starting fourth, Busch just kept falling back and falling back. Team never could seem to get a handle on the car. Top ten finish was almost a gift for this team.” – Pete McCole, AutoRacing1.com

3.  CARL EDWARDS (88 POINTS, +3)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Had the fastest car all weekend, but couldn’t take full advantage of it.” – Phil Allaway

“HE STARTED FIRST AND FINISHED FOURTH. 1 AND 4 IS 14, THE CAR NUMBER OF THE WINNER.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

4.   JOEY LOGANO (73 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Michigan was a big boost back into contention for a guy who’s now riding four straight top-10 finishes after Sonoma. And it’s not like he hasn’t won Daytona before… or too long ago… (see: 2015 Daytona 500).” – Bowles

“Winner last summer at Watkin’s Glen, third on Sunday at Sonoma… Is it time to admit that Sliced Bread’s a bonafide road course racer?” – Bearden

5.  KYLE BUSCH (60 POINTS, +5)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“No crash, no fire, no blown tires.  After the month he’s had, Sunday was a good day.”  – Gable

“I was more surprised Kyle actually finished the race than the fact he didn’t win it. This team has had some real bad luck lately and a top-10 is actually a great finish for this team.” – McCole

“RABBIT-FLAVORED M&Ms — NOW THERE IS AN IDEA.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

6.   BRAD KESELOWSKI (44 POINTS, -4)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

 “Quietly racking up the consistency to be a contender. Perhaps the quietest two-win season we’ve seen, in fact from a guy who likes to speak his mind.” –  Bowles

“Don’t lie – you forgot Kez was even in this race, didn’t you?” – Bearden

2016 Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour - Day 37.   TONY STEWART (41 POINTS, Prev. Unranked))

“Smoke has risen to the top … at least for now.” – Jim Utter, Motorsport
“TONY IS PROBABLY HAVING THE BEST WEEK EVER.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

8.   MARTIN TRUEX, JR. (33 POINTS, -1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Is another big win in store for Saturday night?” – Gable
“I thought Truex really had the strongest car in the field in the late stages of the race and best chance to catch Stewart. Made a few mistakes that allowed Hamlin to catch him and that’s what cost him the race.” – McCole

9.   DENNY HAMLIN (29 POINTS, Prev. Unranked)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Had he not screwed up turn 11 on the last lap, there’s a good sporting chance he still would have lost the race. He had Stewart behind him, and Stewart isn’t exactly ‘cordial.'” –  Allaway

 “While not the win he’s been searching for, a second-place run at Sonoma is just what the doctor ordered for the No. 11 team moving forward.” –  Kyle Pokrefky, The Fourth Turn

10. CHASE ELLIOTT (28 POINTS, -6)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Sonoma clearly isn’t his jam. That’s OK. His spot in the points gives this rookie plenty of room to maneuver if he hits a summer slump.” – Bowles
“Won the K&N West race but never really contended in the Cup feature. Oh well, on to the next one.” – Bearden

CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR

Two of Hendrick Motorsports‘ best will have to search for success in Daytona after having separate mediocre weeks in Sonoma.

Jimmie Johnson (27 Points) – “Johnson said they had planned to pit when Stewart did but they didn’t, but the debris that brought out the caution was from their car, so it wouldn’t have mattered when they pitted – they were still going to get screwed.” – McCole

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (16 Points) – “Four runner-up finishes. Four wrecks. We saw a little bit of both potentially unfold at Sonoma. Will the real Dale Earnhardt, Jr. of 2016 please stand up?” – Bowles

Others receiving votes: Ryan Newman (8), John Wes Townley, Spencer Gallagher (7), Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson (5)

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. 

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