History repeated itself for the third time in a row, as the winner at Atlanta in the fall headed to Texas the following week and won again. That victory this week by Carl Edwards stole a couple of first-place votes away from Jimmie Johnson, but didn’t move him out of the top spot just yet. Meanwhile, Jeff Burton’s drive to the championship is done – that is, if you believe the voters in this week’s poll. But just how far did Burton fall? And what Roush Fenway driver made an appearance in our top 12 for the first time? Read on for the answers in this week’s version of the Power Rankings.
Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint 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 car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Carl Edwards made good on the promise that he showed at the beginning of the spring Atlanta race by taking the win this past weekend. Overshadowed by that performance, however, was a banzai run by Jimmie Johnson from 11th to second in the last eight laps of the race. That strength solidified the points leader’s place at the top of the Power Rankings, where he swept all of the first-place votes again this week. Behind him, positions continue to swap like hotcakes as drivers scrape and claw for every spot they can get on the racetrack. Read this week’s rankings to see if our writers thought your driver has had that extra incentive to wheel it to the front with only three races left – or if he’s been slip-sliding his way right out of our Power Rankings.
The new and modern way of determining a series champion heads to the race track that has been on the Cup schedule the longest as it travels to Southern Virginia for the second and final trip to Martinsville. Fantasy gamers are once again on edge because they face the daunting possibility that their driver can be caught up in someone else’s mess, causing a weekend of ruin through no fault of their own on this half-mile short track. At least most of your team won’t be distracted by the mounting pressure of the Chase. At this point, the championship is down to a three or four driver race; everyone else in the field is either gunning for a victory or testing things to get a head start on next year. The worry for fantasy players, of course, is that their driver will be testing and have a failure before the race is over. But for the top three left battling for the trophy, failure is no longer an option.
10. “It was great to see the front and sniff a little bit of the lead of the race with 25 [laps] to go.” – Kurt Busch
Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint 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 Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson started off last week running like he was towing a bass boat behind his car; can he own Lowe’s Motor Speedway like he has in the past? Will the Roush brigade continue to flex their muscle on the intermediate tracks? And can Tony Stewart continue his strong push back towards the top of the standings and make up for losing the race in May that he was leading at the very end? Read this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to see which drivers should be running for your team and which ones should be sitting at home on their couch in Mooresville.
Did You Notice? Jamie McMurray’s crash at Dover was not just caused by Robby Gordon’s recklessness… but by missing the playoffs? Let me explain. After the regular season finale at Richmond, Roush Fenway Racing GM Robbie Reiser made a number of pit crew switches to benefit the RFR teams set to contend for the championship. “There were some members on the No. 26 car that were proven veterans,” explained Greg Biffle’s crew chief Greg Erwin at Loudon. “And both our team and the No. 99 has had some issues with one guy in particular on each squad. Reiser stepped up to the plate and decided, ‘Look, this is our best foot forward. These are what we think are our most experienced, under-the-gun-type players,’ and made the decision and allowed each of our teams to get some guys from the No. 26 car – and it’s helped. Without a doubt it’s helped.”
It was rather fitting that Greg Biffle’s sponsor this week was Turbo HD from Dish Network with the way he dusted Jimmie Johnson. I was reminded of The Dukes of Hazzard episode when Bo and Luke have to retrieve Cale Yarborough’s stolen turbo with special pop-it valve (to date, nobody is sure what this means) that was stolen by the Jethro Brothers. Apparently, the Jethros must be in cahoots with Roush Fenway Racing, as it appears to have found its way onto Biffle’s No. 16 Ford Fusion. Just look at the impromptu power move he put on the No. 48 car! But while things were looking up for the one they call, “the Biff,” some of the other Chase contenders were looking only at the immense virtual load of manure they were about to have dumped on them — not unlike Biff in Back To The Future.
Over the next couple of months, there’s plenty of time to see how the Chase unfolds with all its drama — manufactured or otherwise. But before the gentlemen fire their engines at Loudon next Sunday, let’s take a quick look at those who didn’t make the Chase, and particularly those who started the seasons with pretensions of making the final field of 12.