The race is done, and that means it's time for Power Rankings. Each week throughout the season, we'll size up who's rising and who's falling, based on current standings, behind-the-scenes changes, expected staying power, recent history and general gut feelings. It is not scientific, nor is it meant to be. And remember, whoever your favorite driver is, we're biased against him and like someone else better. We continue with a guy who is consistent at being consistent, which isn't what he was consistent at last year...
1. Greg Biffle:
You got any other ideas here? The Biff was up near the front at Talladega, but it was déjà vu all over again when he couldn't get to Matt Kenseth's bumper over the last two laps. But the consistency that he lacked last year is back this year. Will it be there for the final 10 races?. Last week: 4.
2. Matt Kenseth:
Did Flatline just find out how it feels to lose when your car is too good? No one could get to his bumper all day on Sunday, and that was his undoing at the end. Or was it the fact that his car was falling apart like Best Buy's stock? Last week: 6.
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.:
Here is where we will write another post saying that Junior is really, really, really, really close to winning. Honest. Promise. Swear it on his beard. What's that? His beard is gone? Well, we're standing by our word. Until we get tired and have to sit down. Last week: 3.
4. Brad Keselowski:
Believe it or not, @Kes is 12th
in the points standings despite the two wins. And, perhaps even more surprising, he made it through an entire restrictor plate race without tweeting from the car. Of course, we didn't have any jet dryers explode either. Last week: NR.
5. Kyle Busch:
Sunday was the perfect opportunity for Busch to do what Joey Logano did to him on Saturday. Thing is, Brad Keselowski knew it too. Next time, Kyle, make your move on Lap 1. No one will be expecting that. Last week: 10.
6. Tony Stewart:
Maybe NASCAR will secretly fine Tony Stewart for his sarcastic comments about racing at Talladega. Alas, all fines are public knowledge. Maybe instead, NASCAR will force Stewart to race with a restrictor plate for the next five races. Or just fine him and not tell him about it, thus keeping it super-duper secret. Last week: 1.
7. Martin Truex Jr.:
Looked like Other Junior's plan was to be just another driver for most of the race before coming to the front at the end. But he didn't make it to the end, getting caught up in The Big One 1.0. At least by being caught up in a big crash he made his race airtime roughly equivalent to that of his sponsor's commercials. Last week: 7.
8. Jimmie Johnson:
Sunday was the second time that five-time has suffered an engine malfunction with oil copiously leaking from the car. This time, he didn't have a golden horseshoe of a red flag for rain to save him. Last week: 2.
9. Clint Bowyer.
Clint rolled with the Tide all day at Talladega and finished sixth. Bowyer didn't have any conflict of interest running that Alabama paint scheme all weekend because, last we checked, the university that Bowyer usually cheers for doesn't have a football team. Last week: 12.
10. Kasey Kahne:
Carnage! Crashes! Hendrick engines going sour! And Kahne wasn't involved in any of it. Maybe Talladega was the truest sign that Kahne's trend of bad luck is ending. Last week: 11.
11. Denny Hamlin:
Hamlin had a strong car and was a staple at the front of the field until he went a lap down because of an extended green-flag pit stop. And then he got his lap back and got back to the front and got crashed. That's so Hamlin. Last week: 2.
12. Kevin Harvick:
Cupcake was content to play the waiting game too, until the Spirits of Talladega struck and he had a mysterious fuel problem. Like Hamlin, he too was able to get back on the lead lap, but also got crashed. All this crash talk is making Tony Stewart excited.Last week: 9.
Dropping out: Carl Edwards
Lucky Dog: Danica Patrick. Yeah, she didn't race in the Sprint Cup Series last weekend but she escaped a post-race hauler visit after crashing Sam Hornish Jr. on the cool-down lap and is locked into the field for her first Cup start at Darlington on Saturday. Plus, we'd like to use this space to stop any and all "Lady in Black" references to Patrick's race at Darlington before they begin.
DNF: Poor, poor Jeff Gordon. This kind of feels like piling on at this point, but the dude started first, didn't lead a lap, saw his gauges start flashing all like Tom Cruise in "Top Gun" and then got crashed right as it looked like he was going to snake through the carnage. At this rate, Gordon could go win the last 13 races of the year and the Cup and we'd view it as progression back to the mean.
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