Phoenix’s Saturday night showdown may have been Mark Martin’s time to shine… but it didn’t mean much for the rest of the Sprint Cup competition. Most of the racing behind him was tame at best, with few top drivers encountering problems that left them dropping off our Power Rankings list. Just how far did Martin’s win make him rise? Read on to find out in this week’s edition of our Power Rankings.
Another one bit the dust in the sands out west at Phoenix Saturday night. But as the smoke cleared from the Cup Series’ eighth race of the season, we’re left with plenty of storylines from a weekend’s worth of action at PIR. Mark Martin became one of the oldest drivers ever to win a NASCAR race, scoring his first victory in nearly four years, while points leader Jeff Gordon surrendered nearly half his lead because of a late-race pit-road miscue – garnering him his first finish outside the top 15 all year. Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart’s solid finishes will keep Gordon honest atop the standings heading into this weekend’s restrictor-plate showdown at Talladega.
Left unemployed in the middle of last season, a few chance meetings with some friends of friends landed Scott Lagasse Jr. in his current ride in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the No. 11 CJM Racing Toyota. And after a rough start – he wrecked twice in seven starts to finish off the end of 2008 – this season has seen him finally have a chance to get comfortable behind the wheel. Lagasse currently sits 13th in points with two top-10 finishes, proving a strong competitor in an exciting Rookie of the Year battle with Brendan Gaughan and Justin Allgaier. Frontstretch’s Doug Turnbull had a chance to speak with Lagasse about his journey to get to this point, his future racing plans, how he feels about Cup drivers racing in the Nationwide Series, and his stance on start-and-park teams.
With the off week in full swing, it presented an opportunity for the Frontstretch experts to do something a little different. Instead of grading the Cup guys, we took a look at those drivers who often get shunned from the spotlight these days… the drivers exclusive to the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series desperate to make a name for themselves. These divisions are filled with established veterans and young guns mixed together to provide a cornucopia of driving talent. And since you never know when a Cup ride will become available… we thought it’s high time to figure out who’s proved himself most worthy of filling the spot as of late. Read on to see if your favorite non-Cup driver made the list in this special edition of the Power Rankings.
Something that both the Nationwide and Truck series do share is a two-driver breakaway in the points standings. However, while one of those battles is just heating up, the other threatens to cool down as soon as Kansas in two weeks considering one or both of the drivers involved may not run the full schedule. Which championship in which series am I talking about? Find out by checking out the HOT, WARM and COLD drivers of NASCAR’s second and third biggest series. Not surprisingly, the way things are these days, you will notice a familiar name or two from Sprint Cup on the list.
Things at Texas happen fast these days, leaving the margin of error slim to none on what’s become the sport’s speediest track. From Kyle Busch cutting a tire to Carl Edwards having trouble on pit road, too many of the sport’s biggest superstars discovered that answer too little, too late. The end result was a major shakeup in our poll this week, with our experts dropping no less than three drivers right out of the rankings. Luckily for Jeff Gordon, he already knew the dangers – 0-for-16 for his career in the Lone Star State entering Sunday – and was finally able to put the bad karma behind him in streaking to his first victory of 2009.
Jeff Gordon’s large winless streak came to an end Sunday in Texas – where everything is big. But while Gordon had a giant weight lifted off his shoulders, other drivers felt huge swings in the points. Greg Biffle gained eight spots in the standings after his third-place Texas run, while Mark Martin’s sixth-place finish gained him nine positions. AJ Allmendinger’s ignition issues relegated him to a 34th-place finish and lost him five spots in the points, while Kevin Harvick and Michael Waltrip each lost four places after lousy runs. Inside the top 12, most drivers changed at least one spot, with Matt Kenseth leading the charge, climbing three spots to ninth after running fifth in Texas. Gordon also is seeing his points lead stretch, as you will find out in this week’s list of HOT, WARM and COLD drivers.
With their bumping and banging for the lead on Sunday, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson were able to make big gains up the Power Rankings ladder. But were they enough to push Jeff Gordon off the top spot? Meanwhile, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton were among those who took it on the chin at this short track. Read on to see how far they slid – and which new drivers drove their way up the list – in this week’s edition of the Frontstretch Power Rankings.
What a race Sunday! The Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway gave fans the tight racing action they have been yearning for since before the season began. The close racing amongst competitors individually made the race well worth watching, as did the fact that some unexpected drivers had good runs on the tricky half-mile track. While several surprise drivers slid into the top 15 or 20, other expected contenders found themselves in holes early in the event, with little or no chance of digging out. Here are the HOT, WARM and COLD drivers this week, before the Cup Series breaks its short-track excursion and travels to Texas Motor Speedway this Sunday.
The fastest half-mile in the world at Bristol battered many of Cup’s top contenders and spit them out. Bad luck struck more than one competitor, most notably Greg Biffle, causing mechanical problems which dropped him out of the top 15 in our Power Rankings. So, which one of the three men above continues to remain on top of our rankings: Busch, Gordon or Johnson? Read on to find out, and see if your driver rode the new high groove to move up in the standings – or spun out off someone’s back bumper to move down in this week’s Power Rankings post-Bristol.