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(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)

The 10: Ranking the Races (So Far)

For the final time before the Chase, the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series enjoyed a week off after a wild afternoon at Watkins Glen International. While that left many of them to relax, it required the masterminds behind Frontstretch’s Power Rankings to be creative.

With no new race to base driver rankings off of, we’ve instead shifted the focus to the races themselves. NASCAR is past the halfway point of the season with the newly-implemented low downforce rules package. While there have been both highs and lows throughout the year, the package has largely been deemed a success.

Because of the improved on-track product, picking favorite races from the year proved much more challenging than expected, but our panel of experts proved up to the task, selecting their 10 favorite Cup races of the season to date.

Here’s what they decided on, complete with creative race names and haikus in the case of one writer.

Note: Each race can be viewed on NASCAR’s YouTube channel. Simply click the link attached to the race’s name to enjoy each of the year’s top 10 events. 

POWER RANKINGS: 2016 NSCS Race Edition

1. Toyota Owners 400

(Richmond International Raceway, April 24)

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade/NKP)
(Photo: Nigel Kinrade/NKP)
“Teammates bump and run
Hot, slick track for a change
Give us more short tracks!” – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch

2.  Toyota – Save Mart 350

(Sonoma Raceway, June 26)

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade/NKP)
(Photo: Nigel Kinrade/NKP)
“Strategic masterpiece gets unexpected win for Tony Stewart.” – Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

3. Daytona 500

(Daytona International Speedway, Feb. 21)

Sunday's heartbreaker wasn't the first close loss for Martin Truex, Jr. (Photo: Mike Neff)
(Photo: Mike Neff)

“People are always saying how restrictor-plate races are the worst thing to happen in NASCAR, and in the case of a few races, they’re kind of right. THIS race was an exception. I don’t think there’s been a 500 since 2011 that had me so much on the edge of my seat.” – Pete McCole, AutoRacing1.com

4. Cheez-It 355 at the Glen

(Watkins Glen International, Aug. 7)

(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)
(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)
“A.K.A. ‘A REALLY GOOD SNACK TO EAT WHILE YOU’RE ON A ROAD TRIP AND DOESN’T GIVE YOU BAD BREATH’ 355” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

5. Pennsylvania 400

(Pocono Raceway, Aug. 1)

(Photo: Logan Whitton/NKP)
(Photo: Logan Whitton/NKP)
“A Monday race, full of aggressive driving and strategy, with a constant fear of rain, and yet it was ultimately fog that prevailed to give Chris Buescher and Front Row Motorsports their first win together and gave the Chase battle a shocking new twist.” – Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch 

6. AAA 400 Drive for Autism

(Dover International Speedway, May 15)

(Photo: Russell LaBounty/NKP)
(Photo: Russell LaBounty/NKP)

“A.K.A. THE “CLOSEST KYLE LARSON HAS COME TO WINNING A SPRINT CUP RACE” 400″ – @AnnoyingRaceFan

7.   GEICO 500

(Talladega Superspeedway, May 1)

(Photo: Matthew T. Thacker/NKP)
(Photo: Matthew T. Thacker/NKP)
“Cars flip through the air
Will the rain ever arrive?
Bad Brad was bad fast.” – Gable

8.   Auto Club 400

(Auto Club Speedway, March 20)

(Photo: Russell LaBounty/NKP)
(Photo: Russell LaBounty/NKP)
“Didn’t provide the wild finish that many other early races supplied, but the classic racing that’s made Auto Club a sudden fan favorite was present once more.” Bearden

9.  Coca-Cola 600 

(Charlotte Motor Speedway, May 29)

(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)
(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)
“For sheer dominance, this was a record-setting Truex victory.” – Spencer

10. Food City 500

(Bristol Motor Speedway, April 17)

(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)
(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)
“Side-by-side action
An underdog steals the show
A winning backflip” – Gable
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@AnnoyingRaceFanI’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
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About Aaron Bearden

Aaron Bearden
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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