You can’t win the clichés during the fourth race of the 10-race playoff schedule, but you can sure lose the cliché battle at Talladega Superspeedway. Unfortunately, drivers pushed the rules envelope on Sunday (Oct. 4), causing NASCAR to actually make a ruling on their beloved “Yellow Line Rule.”
For those new to NASCAR, a driver can use any part of the racetrack, even the grass, in 32 races every year. But in four races, they get penalized for racing below the yellow line. Sunday, we learned that if you force someone down the track and they choose to go even farther down, causing a third car to go below the yellow line, the original car will get penalized. When the dominos start to fall at Talladega, the fans start getting grouchy. Let’s check the Power Rankings after ‘Dega.
- Kevin Harvick – There was a time it appeared that Harvick would grab his 10th win of the season, but that hope quickly faded as he got caught up in a wreck. He has one more gimmick race to survive before getting back to tracks he has dominated this year.
- Denny Hamlin – Suddenly, Hamlin can add “best superspeedway racer never to win a NASCAR Cup Series championship” to his other accomplishments. Next year, he will also become the “best driver/owner never to have won the Cup” to his resume.
- Martin Truex Jr. – When the top 10 of a race includes the names Nemechek, Poole and Preece all in the same event, you know it’s been a race worthy of 2020. That’s why it’s impossible to drop Truex in the Power Rankings this week.
- Brad Keselowski – Bad Brad was above average in car quality and driver ability on Sunday. But he was below average on luck and had to settle for 18th place.
- Chase Elliott – The rumor mill was hot and heavy this week in NASCAR, and if the biggest rumor is true, then Elliott might be relegated to “second most talented driver” at Hendrick Motorsports next season.
- Kyle Busch – After winning five races and the Cup championship last year, Rowdy’s theme song could have been, “Oh Lord It’s Hard to Be Humble.” But this year, his theme song has changed to the old Hee Haw rendition of “Gloom Despair and Agony on Me.”
- Alex Bowman – When a couple playoff contenders ended up wrecked even worse than Bowman the Showman, he suddenly went from a serious favorite for elimination to a somewhat safer bubble boy. It pays to bring back a little more than the steering wheel.
- Joey Logano – There is no doubt that Logano is the best cause of calamity at ‘Dega since Sliced Bread! Blocking is an art, and it’s about the only art in NASCAR racing that Logano has not mastered yet in his illustrious career.
- Kurt Busch – As Busch flew through the air with the greatest of ease, that lucky win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway suddenly became even more important. Instead of joining his brother in the must-win group at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, he can rest easy for one more race.
- Clint Bowyer – NASCAR’s funny man got great news this week with the hot-and-heavy rumor that Kyle Larson was staying with Chevy and heading to Hendrick Motorsports instead of following his true destiny and ending up in the No. 14 ride.
- Aric Almirola – If this is one of Almirola’s last seasons in top equipment in Cup, it will be remembered for an amazing nine-race streak of top 10s earlier in the year. But it will also be remembered for the two bad races back-to-back in the Round of 12.
- Austin Dillon – Dillon is representing his number well. He has won a single race for the third time in his career. He has finished in 12th place three times this year. And he survived three crashes at Talladega.
- William Byron – I wonder if Byron has as much luck in iRacing events at Talladega as he had in the real race last Sunday. Maybe the Liberty University sponsorship he carries most of the year brought him some special help?
- Cole Custer – This has been a typical rookie season in many ways for Cold Custard. His gamble to go four-wide to make a pass earned him a win and a trip to the playoffs. Since race No. 20, he reverted back to a more typical rookie with only one top 10 in 11 races.
- Ryan Blaney – If Charles Dickens was a NASCAR writer, he would have loved Blaney’s performance at Talladega. It was the worst of times, then the best of times, and then the worst times, all in one race.
- Matt DiBenedetto – Not since apparent 2019 Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security got DQed has there been such a ruckus over an inquiry at the end of a race. First, it appeared Guido would win, then it appeared he had finished second, but then he got demoted to 21st.
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