Wednesday, May 1, 2013

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 9

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jimmie Johnson — Despite being collected in a spin initiated by Tony Stewart and finishing 12th, Johnson increased his lead in the Sprint Cup point standings. He now leads Carl Edwards by 43.

"My points lead is so big," Johnson said, "only a NASCAR inspector could gain any ground on me.

"I got 'Smoked'; now I'm 'Steamed.' Stewart may be a three-time Cup champion, but judging by his performance this year, I'm not sure I want any of him 'rubbing off' on me."

2. Carl Edwards — Edwards finished sixth at Richmond, posting his fifth top-10 result of the year. He leapt four spots to second in the point standings, and now trails Jimmie Johnson by 43.

"How about Matt Kenseth and his connecting rods?" Edwards said. "NASCAR says they didn't weigh enough. I would tend to agree, because I've known Kenseth was a lightweight for years."

3. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt scored his first top-10 finish in the month of April with a 10th in the Toyota Owners 400. He is third in the point standings, 46 out of first.

"It was wild at Richmond International Speedway," Earnhardt said. "There were nut shots, fights, and arrests. It reminded me of Mother's Day with Teresa.

"I may be a 'Junior,' but I wouldn't stoop so low as to kick a competitor in the balls. If I'm going to kick someone where it hurts, it will be a fan of Junior Nation, in the wallet, at the merchandise stand."

4. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer led 113 laps at Richmond and finished second to former teammate Kevin Harvick. He is fifth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 53 out of first.

"I was the top Toyota finisher," Bowyer said. "Which means NASCAR will be watching me as intently as I watch Jeff Gordon.

"In the wake of the Matt Kenseth penalties, Toyota Racing Development recalled three of my engines. Now, Michael Waltrip can say he's just like an ordinary Toyota owner, because now he's experienced a recall."

5. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth led a race-high 140 laps at Richmond and finished seventh after a mad green-white-checkered scramble at the finish. It was an impressive result, coming just days after NASCAR levied harsh penalties on the team for illegal parts.

"I don't agree with NASCAR's penalties," Kenseth said. "I feel they were much too strict with their inspection. In other words, I was 'screw-tinized.'"

6. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski struggled at Richmond, finishing 33rd, eight laps down, his worst finish of the season. He is now sixth in the point standings, 59 out of first.

"It's good to see NASCAR's focus on something other than Penske Racing," Keselowski said. "Penalties have become so commonplace, there's practically no difference in the questions 'witch hunt?' and 'which hunt?'"

"Among kicks in the balls in NASCAR this year, Nelson Piquet, Jr.'s may be the most blatant. Is it a surprise that Piquet's right foot was in Brian Scott's crotch? Not really, because it certainly wasn't on the gas pedal.

7. Kevin Harvick — Harvick dashed from seventh to first on the chaotic green-white-checkered finish at Richmond, earning him his first win of the season. Harvick took four tires and, after a great restart, easily picked off Jeff Burton to take the lead.

"I found some extra motivation," Harvick said. "Some Richard Childress Racing drivers needed a kick in the pants, not in the balls. Of course, I was lucky to win. While Nelson Piquet, Jr.'s may have put one up Brian Scott's, I pulled "one" out of mine. And it didn't hurt nearly as much."

8. Kasey Kahne — Kahne finished 21st in the Toyota Owners 400 on a night when only one Hendrick Motorsports driver finished in the top 10. Kahne is tied for third in the point standings, 46 out of first.

"It was a wild weekend at Richmond," Kahne said. "Now, I can say the same thing to Nelson Piquet, Jr. that I would say to a lovely Sprint Cup girl: 'nice rack.' Between them, my teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have nine Cups. Hopefully, they can spare one for me to wear."

9. Kyle Busch — Busch's No. 18 Toyota was damaged when Jimmie Johnson's No. 48, sent reeling by Tony Stewart, spun into Busch's path. Busch eventually finished 24th, ending his run of four consecutive spring victories at Richmond.

"They say good things come in three's," Busch said. "But bad things come in two's, like damaged Busch brother cars at Richmond, Tony Stewart chins, and bruised Brian Scott testicles."

10. Greg Biffle — Biffle suffered a broken shock and spun about midway through Saturday's race. He finished 36th, 15 laps down, and tumbled four spots in the point standings. He is now eighth, 71 out of first.

"Of all the wild occurrences over the weekend," Biffle said, "mine was the least shocking. Take it from Brian Scott — a swift kick in the nuts can really cause momentary confusion. Medically, that's known as a loss of your ball bearings.

"But Nelson Piquet, Jr. isn't completely at fault. He made millions of NFL fans happy, because 'foot-ball' season came early this year."

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