NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 12

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson got loose and spun at Charlotte on lap 334, collecting Matt Kenseth. Johnson finished 22nd, five laps off the pace, but still holds a comfortable 32-point lead over Carl Edwards in the Sprint Cup point standings.

"I'll say the same thing Kasey Kahne said on Sunday," Johnson said. "'This seems like a comfortable lead.

"But I'd like to apologize to Kenseth. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. That's a place I don't visit often. I'm usually in the right place at the right time, five times."

2. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth established himself early as the favorite to win at Charlotte, leading 112 laps before he slammed into Jimmie Johnson's spinning No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet on lap 334. He finished 15th, two laps behind the leader.

"Much like a Fox camera on a broken cable," Kenseth said, "I had nowhere to go. But I took it in stride. Everyone knows I'm a cool customer, even under the greatest of stress. Unlike a Fox camera cable, I never 'snap.'"

3. Carl Edwards — Edwards remained second in the point standings with an 11th in Charlotte. He now trails Jimmie Johnson by only 32.

"And I have a 19-point lead over third place," Edwards said, "So it looks like I'll be holding on to second. And I'm a pro when it comes to holding second. I did it for the entire 2011 Chase."

4. Kasey Kahne — Kahne had a comfortable lead with about 15 laps to go, but a caution resulting from debris from Jimmie Johnson's damaged No. 48 cost Kahne the win. Kahne stayed out, while everyone trailing pitted for fresh tires. Kevin Harvick zoomed by on the restart, while Kahne held on for second.

"Counting himself," Kahne said, "Johnson cost three drivers the win.

"As a driver sponsored by Time Warner Cable, I'm contractually obligated to say that our cable never goes down."

5. Kevin Harvick — Harvick's fresh tires on the final pit stop put him in the lead on the final restart, and the Richard Childress driver pulled away to claim the Coca-Cola 600, his second win of the year.

"They call me 'The Closer,'" Harvick said. "That's either because of what I do at the end of races, or it's what I did to the door at RCR.

"I admire that television cable. It did something I've always wanted to do — clothesline Kyle Busch. You can add 'broken cable' to the long list of things keeping Busch from winning a Cup."

6. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer finished eighth in the Coca-Cola 600, posting his sixth top 10 of the year. He is fourth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 60 out of first.

"It was a tough night for many in Charlotte," Bowyer said, "especially the 10 fans injured by a falling television cable. Normally, I'd offer them a shot of 5-Hour Energy drink, but the last thing they need to be is 'wired.'"

7. Kyle Busch — Busch's engine blew midway through the Coca-Cola 600, relegating him to a 38th place finish. Earlier in the race with Busch leading, a freak accident portending later problems befell when a cable supporting a FOX camera fell, damaging the right side of Busch's No. 18 M&M Toyota and red-flagging the race.

"It was a double whammy," Busch said. "One minute, the sky is falling; the next, the bottom's dropping out."

8. Denny Hamlin — In only his second full race after returning from a back injury, Hamlin took fourth in the Coca-Cola 600, his second consecutive top-five.

"Most importantly," Hamlin said, "I finished ahead of Joey Logano. I'm not a big fan of 'Sliced Bread.' You could say I have a loath of 'Bread.'"

9. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt's engine blew in a cloud of smoke on lap 258, ending his day at Charlotte. He dropped two spots in the point standings to sixth, 81 behind Jimmie Johnson.

"I'm sure the legions of Junior fans were disappointed," Earnhardt said. "When my engine gave way, you could hear the collective sigh of disappointment. Or maybe that was just the sound of a broken cable knocking the wind out of them."

10 (tie): Brad Keselowski — Keselowski's troubles continued at Charlotte, as he was involved in a lap 319 spin with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Danica Patrick. Keselowski fell four spots in the point standings to 10th, 110 out of first.

"At least now," Keselowski said, "I can say I've attended a couples 'retreat.' But it's clear Stenhouse and Patrick have a lot in common. In this case, it's rookie mistakes."

Kurt Busch — Busch led eight laps and finished third at Charlotte, posting his best finish of the year.

"We're holding our own against teams with much larger budgets," Busch said. "Furniture Row Racing is a one-car team that spends considerably less than the big boys. Sunday in Charlotte, we ran like the big boys. It's one of the few occasions I put my big boy panties on."

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