It's time for Power Rankings! After every race, we opine about who we think is at the top of the Sprint Cup heap and how and why they got there. But this week, it's different! The All-Star Race wasn't for points, so there's no point (pun!) in ranking the Sprint Cup field again. Besides we'd just put Jimmie Johnson back at the top.
Instead, let's stick with the All-Star theme. There's been some fantastic fodder for Happy Hour in the email inbox this week; people are incredibly passionate about the All-Star Race. So what if the All-Star Race was going to go to another track? Where would it go? Let's answer that question.
P.S. -- We're inverting the field this week. Why? Because we can. And we're dreaming big, too.
12. Rockingham: Let's start off with a fan favorite. Rockingham has produced some great racing since the Truck Series has returned to it, and given the multiple grooves through the corners and the tire wear, there would be no shortage of side-by-side racing. Of course, the size of the grandstands and the accessibility to the track would be a drawback, but this is a dream list, right? Let's not worry about stuff like that.
11. Texas World Speedway: The last NASCAR race at TWS was in 1981, but the two-mile track has been a testing site for some teams. It's got steeper banking than Michigan and older pavement, plus a road course if the oval (where Greg Biffle hit 218 in 2009) is too fast.
10. Daytona Road Course: If you're looking for a great test of both driver and car, you can't go wrong with the Daytona Road Course. Drivers would have to be able to navigate the road course turns in the Daytona infield with aplomb, hit the chicane on the backstretch perfectly, and then hope they have enough horsepower to pull away from the field through turns three and four and the tri-oval. Sounds fun, don't you think?
9. O'Reilly Raceway Park: The Nationwide Series should never have left this short track for the Brickyard, so the Cup Series should come back, if only for an exhibition race. How cool would it be to see half the field in the preferred high groove and half the field diving down as low as possible to attempt a slide job at the beginning of the final 10 lap sprint?
8. Talladega: Yes, anything can happen at Talladega, and it usually does. And yes, Talladega is on here because of its popularity amongst the NASCAR fanbase. Can you imagine the infield All-Star parties? That being said, is a restrictor plate track really the best venue?
7. Circuit of the Americas: Catch any of the V-8 Supercars race on Sunday at Austin? The Circuit of the Americas would be a fine host and the mad dash into the tight left-hand turn one after the field storms up the hill on a restart would be a hold-your-breath moment.
6. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve: The track that's produced some of the most compelling Nationwide Series races in recent memory is unfortunately not on the schedule any longer. And given how awesome those races were, can you imagine watching a Cup race there? If this were to happen, there'd have to be a way to guarantee Robby Gordon's inclusion.
5. Bristol, Martinsville and Richmond: The current Cup Series short tracks are all here because each of them would make fine venues for an All-Star Race. But like Talladega, do we really want to see three races a year at each track? Because there's no way we should take away a points race from any of the three.
4. Laguna Seca: Cup cars in the Corkscrew. Need I say more? If you haven't seen it before, take a moment and watch Alex Zanardi's pass of Bryan Herta in 1996.
3. Eldora: Yeah, we've had a version of this with Tony Stewart's annual Prelude to the Dream dirt late-model race, but let's divide the field up into heats and run Cup cars minus the front splitters. Would anyone complain about that?
2. Monaco: Of all the farfetched ideas in this week's edition of Power Rankings, this is the one that's the most out there. Hell no, it ain't happening, but it's fun to dream about, right? Instead of luxury suites, team and series VIPs could be stationed on yachts and everyone would have a great time at the Monte Carlo Casino. This is also a great time to let you know that we're having a live chat for Sunday's F1 race at Monaco. The chat triple!
1. Iowa Speedway: You've likely noticed that most of the tracks on this list don't currently host a Cup Series race. That's by design. If the race is going to change venues, the ideal place is a new track. Iowa gets rave reviews from drivers, has multiple grooves and provides a unique short track to the schedule. Plus, of all of these possibilities on the list, it could be the one that has the best chance of happening, don't you think?