NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 18
July 11, 2012 by Jeffrey Boswell • Print Story •
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Tony Stewart — Stewart zoomed past the Roush Fenway duo of Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle to win the Coke Zero 400, Stewart's fourth Coke Zero win and 18th overall at Daytona. Stewart started 40th and slowly but surely worked his way to the front as the night wore on.
"I hit all my marks," Stewart said, "and I've never failed a drug test. You could say 'I've minded my P's and cues."
"I knew I had to separate the Kenseth/Biffle tandem, and I did so. Apparently, Joe Gibbs isn't the only one able to split up Roush Fenway teammates."
2. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth started on the pole at Daytona and nearly held on for the wire-to-wire finish. But Tony Stewart's last-lap pass spoiled Kenseth's ambitions, although he held on for the runner-up spot and extended his points lead to 25 over Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
"Tony ran a heck of a race," Kenseth said. "Apparently, A.J. Allmendinger isn't the only one 'Smoking' in NASCAR."
3. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt was in position to dash for the win at Daytona, but a final-lap crash sent him spinning, where he slammed the wall. He was able to guide his damaged No. 88 across the line in 15th and remained second in the Sprint Cup point standings, 25 behind Matt Kenseth.
"It's certainly not the first time I've hit a wall," Earnhardt said. "I hit one after winning at Michigan in 2008, and felt the effects for nearly four years."
4. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson was bumped from behind while attempting to enter pit road on lap 125. His No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet slammed the turn four wall and Johnson finished 36th, his third super-speedway DNF this year.
"It appears I'm cursed on superspeedways," Johnson said. "Therefore, I curse at superspeedways.
"Speaking of 'cursing,' A.J. Allmendinger had to utter a few after getting busted by NASCAR. I would never make that mistake. Not because I'm a prude, but because I'd never want to be the subject of the headline 'Highs and Lowe's.'"
5. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin was running third with eight laps to go when he got loose entering turn one and triggered a wreck involving 14 cars. Hamlin's No. 11 FedEx Toyota returned to the track after extensive repairs and finished 25th, four laps down. Hamlin fell two places to seventh in the points standings, 92 out of first.
"I may drive a Toyota," Hamlin said, "but I don't think anyone ordered 'Japanese take out.' At FedEx, regardless of the circumstances, we deliver. Hopefully, affected drivers can forgive me. I surely don't want to hear other drivers whispering about my supposed lack of driving skills. I already have back problems; I certainly don't need 'behind the back' problems."
6. Greg Biffle — Biffle led 35 laps at Daytona and was pushing Matt Kenseth on the final lap before Tony Stewart, with help from Kasey Kahne, disrupted the Roush Fenway draft and took the win. Biffle then turned down on Kevin Harvick and started a huge pileup as Stewart hurtled towards the finish. Biffle finished 21st and is third in the point standings, 44 behind Kenseth.
"I'm sure a lot of drivers are unhappy with me," Biffle said. "My lane change was a lot like Kenseth's team change — I still can't tell you where I was going."
7. Brad Keselowski — Keselowki finished eighth in the Coke Zero 400, following up his Kentucky win with a solid top-10 result. He is ninth in the point standings, 103 out of first.
"As you've probably heard," Keselowski said, "my Penske teammate A.J. Allmendinger was suspended for failing a drug test. That's too bad. I like communicating on Twitter, with 140 characters. It's seems A.J. likes communicating with '4:20' characters."
"But I can't discuss A.J.'s situation, despite my burning desire to talk it up on Twitter. Roger Penske told me the same thing he told A.J. — 'pipe down.'"
8. Kevin Harvick — Harvick was caught up in a final lap wreck that likely cost him a top-10 finish, which would have been his first since a second at Dover on June 3rd. Harvick is sixth in the point standings, 90 behind Matt Kenseth.
"How is DeLana Harvick like A.J. Allmendinger?" Harvick said. "Her urine test turned up positive as well.
"I used to drive the Shell/Pennzoil-sponsored car. Not once did I ever have an 'intake' problem."
9. Carl Edwards — Edwards broke a five-race slump with his first top-10 result since a ninth at Charlotte, finishing sixth in the Coke Zero 400. He is now 11th in the point standings, 34 ahead of Paul Menard in 13th.
"Despite my first top 10 in six races," Edwards said, "Daytona left me with an empty feeling inside. How, of all people, could I find any enjoyment in a race won by Tony Stewart in Florida in which a Roush Fenway driver finished second? If I didn't know better, I'd say this was Homestead in 2011."
10. Martin Truex, Jr. — Truex finished 17th at Daytona, limping to the finish after getting sucked in to a last-lap crash. Truex now sits seventh in the point standings, 92 out of first.
"Notable casualties in Daytona wrecks included me, Dale Earnhardt, and Juan Montoya," Truex said. "In other words, two 'Juniors' and one 'Senor.'"