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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

The 10: Top Throwbacks From Future’s Past

Smokey Yunick’s machine struggled. Bobby Allison lost a motor. David Pearson crashed and Dale Earnhardt battled for position with… Dale Earnhardt?

If taken only in fleeting glimpses, Sunday’s throwback-filled Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway may well have looked like the days of old. Liveries of stars retired or otherwise long gone filled the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field and the only non-throwback scheme —Brian Scott‘s No. 44– met an early end after a collision with Allison… err.. Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet.

Through all of the throwbacks and fun, however, a real race with championship implications played out. In the end, it was Martin Truex, Jr. taking his second victory of the year in one of the season’s four big races.

Truex’s win gave Toyota a sweep of the season’s grandest events and helped once again to remind people that the veteran’s near-win in the Daytona 500 was more than just a lucky fluke.

Did Truex finally rise to the top of our rankings with his first multi-win season? Let’s take a look and see.

POWER RANKINGS: Bojangles’ Southern 500 Edition

1. KEVIN HARVICK (99 POINTS, No Change)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Pit road mistakes or not, Harvick’s team is among the top performing at this point in the season.” – Jim Utter, Motorsport
“BREAKING NEWS: STEWART-HAAS HIRES MOLASSES TO HELP WITH HARVICK’S PIT CREW WOES” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

2.  BRAD KESELOWSKI (79 POINTS, No Change)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
 
“Had a fast race car Sunday night but problems with loose wheels cost him any shot of winning the race.” – Pete McCole, AutoRacing1
“I know NBC televised the race, but I would have laughed if they brought Darrell Waltrip in to the broadcast booth for just enough time to sing, ‘You picked a fine time to leave me, loose wheel.'” – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch

3. MARTIN TRUEX, JR. (75 POINTS, Prev. Unranked)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Winning some of the biggest races of the season, but the biggest prize of all still looms on the horizon.” – Jim Utter, Motorsport

“Truex doesn’t win as many races as he should, but at least when he does he makes sure they’re big races. Truex’s victories in the Coke 600 and the Southern 500 remind me of Jamie McMurray‘s two big wins at Daytona and Indianapolis in Truex’s old ride back in 2010.” – Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch

4.  DENNY HAMLIN (64 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Loves that throwback No. 11 scheme… could use that number’s luster, seeing as it won a lot of championships.” – Doug Turnbull, PRN

“Is he peaking at the right time or still too early?  We’ll find out in the Chase.” – Gable

5.  JOEY LOGANO (59 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Eleven top 10s in the last 13 races. That kind of consistency gets it done in the Chase.” – Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

“Recent consistency has lifted Logano from ninth to third in the series standings. But Sliced Bread’s going to need to prove he can win big at the end to become a true championship favorite.” – Bearden

6.   KYLE BUSCH (44 POINTS, -2)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“Busch and his team could never seem to get a handle on the racecar all night. Managed to get up to fourth place but faded pretty quick.” – McCole

“Had a disappointing Southern 500, but still contends every week. His collapse-under-pressure days seem behind him.”  – Turnbull

7.   CARL EDWARDS (42 POINTS, -4)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Consistently fast, but gremlins continue to dog his efforts.” – Spencer
“The No. 19 team has been rather quiet lately, and a tire rub certainly did not help matters.” – Gable

8. KYLE LARSON (35 POINTS, -1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“YOU’RE LUCKY THE GATORADE STAINS CAME OUT OF MY SHIRT OR I WAS GOING TO JINX YOUR TEAM AND HAVE YOU FAIL POST-RACE INSPECTION AFTER THE DARLINGTON RACE.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

“Anyone who doubts Larson could be the next elite driver in this series just had to look at how well he managed to handle himself at a demanding track like Darlington – a track that requires more driver finesse than any other on the circuit. Despite being only his third Cup start at the track, he drove it like a veteran.” – McCole

9.   CHASE ELLIOTT (23 POINTS, +1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Turned the corner after a tough summer.” – Utter
“Did very well at Darlington.  Still think he’ll need one of those ‘sexy restarts’ Saturday night though to completely lock himself into the Chase.” – Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
“Sunday’s finish at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park should’ve brought back memories for Elliott – his first NASCAR win came in similarly dramatic fashion after contact with Ty Dillon in 2013.” – Bearden

10. MATT KENSETH (20 POINTS, Prev. Unranked)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“The number of times he has posted practice speeds outside the top 20 only to turn around and finish in the top 10 will never cease to amaze me.” – Gable
“Did not have Ricky Craven Tide Ride luck at Darlington, but ran well.” – Turnbull

CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR

These two drivers both went in to Darlington looking for a win to build some momentum with the Chase approaching, but their hopes of winning were left in the past with their liveries. Better luck at Richmond, gentlemen.

Kurt Busch (15 Points) – “A FLAT TIRE TOOK HIM OUT OF THE RACE. PAUL MENARD’S FLAT TIRE.” – @AnnoyingRaceFan

Jimmie Johnson (11 Points) – “A promising start to the Darlington weekend turned sour in a hurry.” – Spencer

Others receiving votes: Tony Stewart (9), Austin Dillon (5), Ryan Newman (2), Cole Custer (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 just one. 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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