Wednesday, April 24, 2013

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 8

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson finished third in the STP 400 at Kansas and lengthened his lead in the Sprint Cup point standings. He now leads Hendrick teammate Kasey Kahne by 37.

"That's a heck of a cushion after eight races," Johnson said. "If there were debris cautions in the point standings, NASCAR would fly one now."

"Brad Keselowski swears his team did nothing wrong. He gives new meaning to the term 'defending' champ. Penske is appealing their punishment, but NASCAR probably won't change their mind. That ship has sailed, or better yet, that ship has been 'docked.'"

2. Kasey Kahne — Kahne posted his fifth top-five of the year, taking the runner-up spot in the STP 400 at Kansas Motor Speedway. He leaped five places in the point standings to second, where he trails Jimmie Johnson by 37.

"I just couldn't make the pass on Matt Kenseth," Kahne said. "He's like the NASCAR rule book to Penske Racing — there's just no getting around it."

3. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski closed an eventful week with a sixth in the STP 400, overcoming early damage to claim his seventh top-10 finish of the year. Earlier in the week, the No. 2 Miller Lite team was docked 25 points for an unapproved part in Texas.

"As you may have seen," Keselowski said, "my rear bumper cover flew off near the end of the race. That's not the only time my car's rear end has been 'uncovered' lately.

"I'm sure NASCAR has heard enough me lately. It's not often NASCAR quotes David Gilliland, but they'd like me to 'shut up and race.'"

4. Greg Biffle — Biffle finished 19th at Kansas on a tough day for Roush Fenway Racing, as the team failed to produce a top-10 finish. Biffle fell one spot to fourth in the point standings, and now trails Jimmie Johnson by 47.

"Roger Penske said the team was working in a 'gray area' of the rule book," Biffle said. "Apparently, that's another area in which NASCAR lacks 'color.'"

5. Kyle Busch — Busch struggled in the STP 400, spinning twice, the second of which sent him into the wall and sliding into the path of Joey Logano's No. 22 Penske Ford, which slammed Busch's Toyota. Both cars were done for the day, and Busch finished 38th, his worst finish this season since a 34th at Daytona.

"Logano has a 'nose' for Joe Gibbs Racing cars," Busch said. "That's in stark contrast to his 'tail' for NASCAR inspectors."

6. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt finished 16th at Kansas, his third consecutive finish outside the top 10. After taking the points lead after a runner-up finish at California, Earnhardt is now tied for fifth, 35 out of first.

"That last caution ruined our chances," Earnhardt said. "I hate flag waving, unless it's green, checkered, or done by my fanatical fan base. But I'm not one to complain. I don't need some two-bit driver to tell me to 'shut up and race.'"

7. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth won his second race of the year, capturing the STP 400 after a timely caution flag gave him the lead with about 40 laps to go. He held off Kasey Kahne down the stretch, and is now eighth in the point standings, 59 out of first.

"Thank goodness for Brad Keselowski's rear bumper flying off," Kenseth said. "And I commend Keselowski for his defiance. NASCAR throws the book at him, and he throws back! He's one tough customer. If he were a professional wrestler, he would hail from 'Parts Unknown.'"

8. Carl Edwards — Edwards led 19 laps at Kansas, but fell a lap down after an untimely caution and finished 17th. He fell one spot to sixth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 49 out of first.

"I'm no stranger to having a muscular physique, Edwards said. "And I'm no stranger to losing points due to a failed inspection. You could say I've been 'sculpted' and 'busted.'"

9. Paul Menard — Menard led the Richard Childress Racing charge at Kansas, finishing 10th while teammate Kevin Harvick came home 12th. Menard is now 10th in the point standings, 71 out of the lead.

"Harvick has an average finish of 16th this season," Menard said. "On a related note, Jimmy John's has introduced a new topping for their sandwiches in Kevin's honor — it's called the 'medi-okra.'"

10. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer posted his fourth top-five result of the season with a fifth in the STP 400. He is ninth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 64 out of first.

"David Gilliland did what many of us have wanted to," Bowyer said. "No, not put Danica in her place, but talk dirty to her.

"As you may have heard, I just opened the Clint Bowyer Autoplex in Emporia, Kansas. It's been a dream of mine to own a car dealership. Let that be a lesson to the youngsters: if you chase your dreams, you may catch them. And, if you chase Jeff Gordon, you may not."

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