This weekend marked the final opportunity for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers to earn their shot at the playoffs. 13 drivers arrived at Richmond Raceway with a win (well, the unencumbered kind), which left three more nervously hanging on to the top 16. The final three were far enough ahead in points to ensure their only downfall would be if the win went to a driver who hadn’t won yet in 2017.
Thankfully for them, that didn’t happen. Due to a, shall we say, questionable caution flag late, Kyle Larson was able to get the lead from Martin Truex, Jr. and pick up his fourth win of the season. The victory was also his first on a track that isn’t a two-mile oval. Things only got worse for Truex from there, but he did pick up the title of regular season champion. It didn’t seem to matter too much to him post race. Truex and the No. 78 team were one of a few who felt victimized by a controversial decision from NASCAR officials on Saturday night.
Our contributors often find themselves wrapped up in their own fair share of controversy. Lucky for them, it rarely involves an ambulance. After all, they did manage to compile the power rankings without anyone getting hurt. So did we properly sort out where everyone stands following the final race of the regular season? Or did we simply add to the lengthy list of controversies from the weekend? You decide.
How the Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football. Our expert stable of NASCAR writers, both on staff and from other major publications, will vote for the top 10 on a 10-9-8-7… 3-2-1 basis, giving 10 points to their first-place driver, nine for second and so on. In the end, Frank Velat calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners and… here you go!
One day I would love to watch a montage of all of the races where Truex dominated and had something bad happen to him at the end. I just don’t know if anyone would ever have enough free time to watch the whole video. – Michael Massie, Frontstretch
First-Place Votes: 3
Seriously, once they said a temporary adieu to the standard yellow paint scheme and embraced purple caramel M&M’s, life’s been sweet for Rowdy. – Rob Tiongson, The Podium Finish
First Place Votes: 1
If you can’t beat em, wreck em. – Pete McCole, Auto Racing 1
He’s one of the title favorites as long as Chip Ganassi doesn’t give him a concussion after one of his wins. – Massie
First Place Votes: 1
If he wins the title, there better be a postrace interview with him hopped up on Monster, a la Keselowski’s buzzed interview in 2012. – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch
I wonder if Kevin Harvick has a huge digital clock in his hauler that counts down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the next race in Phoenix? – Frank Velat, Frontstretch
He may not have gotten an invitation to the playoff drivers’ party, but they will be hard-pressed to stop him from crashing it. – Gable
Summer vacation is over and the kids are back in school. That means that Johnson has enough free time to start showing up to the track every weekend now after disappearing all summer. – Massie
Alright, so if Keselowski didn’t convince you to buy NASCAR Heat 2, perhaps he’ll convince you that he’s a solid dark horse for this year’s championship battle. – Tiongson
If you’re choking, Matt Kenseth can save you by performing the Heimlich maneuver. Just don’t expect him to call an ambulance. – Velat