Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 4

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski finished third at Bristol and snatched the points lead from Jimmie Johnson, who finished 22nd, two laps down. Keselowski now leads Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by 9.

"I finished the race sandwiched between the two Busch brothers," Keselowski said, which is like being between a rock and a hard head. Many have often said that a 'championship' might someday come between the Busch brothers. Thanks to me, it just did."

2. Kasey Kahne — Kahne wrested the lead from Brad Keselowski on a lap 460 restart and pulled away for the win in the Food City 500, Kahne's first win at Bristol.

"The No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet was amazing," Kahne said, "and just a hair better than everyone else. In honor of the track they call the 'Bull Ring' and in honor of my current favorite sponsor, I plan to get a 'bull cut.'"

3. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt posted his fourth top-10 finish of the year with a sixth at Bristol. He moved up one spot to second in the Sprint Cup point standings and now trails Brad Keselowski by 9.

"They call this a 'promising' start," Earnhardt said, "mostly because I can't 'promise' it will continue."

4. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson hammered the wall with 46 laps to go at Bristol and limped home to a 22nd in the Food City 500. He tumbled from the top of the Sprint Cup point standings and is now in third, 15 behind Brad Keselowski.

"Like Joey Logano," Johnson said, "I hit the wall on Sunday. Unlike Logano, I didn't go talk to one after the race. This Logano-Denny Hamlin feud could potentially come to a head, but I doubt it. Their threats were much like Bristol's seats on Sunday — empty."

5. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin was headed for a likely top-5 finish at Bristol, but cut a tire with eight laps to go and scraped the wall continuously as he struggled to a 23rd-place finish. Afterwards, Hamlin was accosted by former teammate Joey Logano, who was spun into the wall by Hamlin earlier.

"Look at this," Hamlin said. "Just four races in, and Logano's dying to get back in a Toyota.

"I'm not in the least bit afraid of Logano. They call him 'Sliced Bread,' but there's certainly no yeast in that bread, because Logano's never 'risen' to anything, much less a challenge."

6. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer finished fifth in the Food City 500, posting his first top-five of the year. He improved five spots in the point standings to fourth, and now trails Brad Keselowski by 38.

"'It's Bristol! They're fighting!' I famously quoted after the race," Bowyer said. "That makes me the 'ring announcer.'"

7. Kyle Busch — Busch registered his second straight top-five finish with a runner-up at Bristol. He jumped seven spots in the point standings to 10th, and is now 51 out of first.

"No one enjoyed my spirited battle with Brad Keselowski more than me," Busch said. "Brad famously called me an 'ass' once at Bristol; in case he'd forgotten, I gave him a good look at it on Sunday."

8. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth was running second when leader Jeff Gordon blew a tire and collected Kenseth's No. 20 Chevrolet, eliminating them both from the race. Kenseth finished 35th and is now 63 out of the lead in the points standings.

"Take it from Clint Bowyer," Kenseth said. "'Following' Jeff Gordon can only lead to bad things for both teams in the garage."

9. Carl Edwards — Edwards struggled in the Food City 500, finishing one lap down in 18th. He is now seventh in the point standings, 42 out of first.

"I was ill for most of the race," Edwards said. "I said 'Aflac' several times during the race, but it had nothing to do with supplemental insurance. At least for a day, the Aflac mascot was no longer a duck, but a 'yak.'"

10. Greg Biffle — Biffle finished 11th at Bristol, posting Roush Fenway's top finish. He is now fifth in the point standings, 40 out of first.

"There are power couples," Biffle said, "like Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. And there are power couples, like Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn. I find it refreshing that Woods has gone public with a relationship, this time on purpose."

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