NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: After the 2008 Bud Shootout at Daytona

We do our rankings similar to the Associated Press for basketball and football… each staff member that votes ranks the drivers on a 20-19-18-17-16-15-14… 3-2-1 basis, with the first place driver scoring 20 points, second place 19, etc. Then, Senior Writer Mike Neff compiles the votes, adds some one-liners, and — voila! — you have a full-cooked recipe of power ranking delight. So, without further ado… here’s our latest edition…

Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Ford 400 at Homestead

Jimmie Johnson – Johnson has top-10 finishes in four of his six starts at Homestead, including a second-place result scored here in 2004. For those looking for a little drama, Johnson did crash out here in 2005 en route to 40th place.

Did You Notice? The Best Sophomore Class in History? Thoughts From Phoenix & Beyond

Did You Notice? That Ken Schrader popped up over in the Gillett Evernham camp this weekend? Patrick Carpentier mentioned him as one of the drivers most responsible for allowing the rookie to adapt to the track so quickly. That could only mean good things for the veteran; Schrader currently is without a ride in any of NASCAR’s top three series, and could benefit immensely from developing a relationship with Evernham and Dodge. Even though the 52-year-old struggled throughout the course of the season with the Wood Brothers – he hasn’t won a race since 1991 – you’d like to think he’d have a few more NASCAR starts left in him, given the right opportunity and a limited schedule.

Running Their Mouth: 2007 Checker Auto Parts 500K at Phoenix

Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Checker Auto Parts 500K at Phoenix International Raceway.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in the Chase: 2007 Checker Auto Parts 500k at Phoenix Edition

As the song by Herman’s Hermits says, “second verse, same as the first.” Well, in this case, the third and fourth verse are the same, too. Jimmie Johnson continued to make the Chase a bore by scoring his fourth straight win in Sunday’s Checker Auto Parts 500K, extending his lead to 86 over Jeff Gordon with just one race remaining on the schedule. While all eyes will firmly be on Johnson and Gordon, there are other drivers in the Chase peaking late in the season who are looking to end the year with a win.

Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Phoenix Fall Race Edition

Jimmie Johnson – Johnson came home second in this race last year, and has four straight top-10 finishes at Phoenix. He also finished second here in 2003.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in the Chase: 2007 Dickies 500 at Texas Edition

They say everything is bigger and better in Texas, and that adage certainly proved true for Jimmie Johnson, as he continued his quest for back-to-back Nextel Cup championships. Once again, Johnson and the No. 48 team found themselves at the front of the field when it came down to money time, as he ran down Matt Kenseth in the closing laps to score his ninth win of the season and third in a row. Not even his teammate/co-owner/mentor Jeff Gordon can seem to tame the No. 48 juggernaut; with just two races remaining on the schedule, he’s fallen behind his streaky teammate.

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