Wednesday, July 3, 2013
NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 17
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth's gamble to take no tires during pits stops on the final caution paid off handsomely, as he collected his fourth win of the year with a win at Kentucky. He is now fifth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 82 behind Jimmie Johnson.
"We took the lead in the pits," Kenseth said. "That's become something in which we specialize — winning without passing; only this time, it's got nothing to do with an inspection.
"The No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was strong in clean air. And the state of Kentucky offers an abundance of it, except at the Mayfield compound, where the air is a thick as the heads."
2. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson's spin while leading on the race's final restart likely cost him the win, as he finished ninth after charging back from 25th. It was the latest in a rash of faulty restarts that may have cost him two wins.
"Apparently," Johnson said, "I've got a mental block when it comes to restarts. That makes me mentally restarted.
"But I'm not worried. My resume speaks for itself. Not only do I 'fall back' on restarts, I fall back on five Sprint Cup championships."
3. Kevin Harvick — Harvick finished 10th in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky, posting his ninth top-10 finish of the season. He is fourth in the point standings, 66 out of first.
"I'm well within striking distance," Harvick said. "I would say I'm 'right where I want to be,' but that would be false, because I'm still with Richard Childress Racing."
4. Carl Edwards — Edwards posted a 21st in the Quaker State 400, leading 35 laps before becoming mired in traffic and fading towards the end. Edwards remained second in the Sprint Cup point standings and trails Jimmie Johnson by 38.
"The No. 99 Ford was sporting UPS sponsorship on Sunday," Edwards said. "Unfortunately, it drove like a big, brown truck in the last 30 laps.
"Congratulations are in order for Matt Kenseth. His four wins this year prove that he can run away from the field just as well as he can run away from me."
5. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — After starting on the pole, Earnhardt's No. 88 Chevy was damaged by the remnants of Denny Hamlin's blown tire on lap 38. Earnhardt spent much of the next 100 laps in and out of the pits for repairs, and eventually finished 12th.
"We made 'something out of nothing,'" Earnhardt said. "The people of Junior Nation have a wealth of experience in making 'something out of nothing,' because they are still able to get excited about what is sure to be another Cup-less season."
6. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer finished third at Kentucky, posting his sixth top-five result of the year. He is third in the Sprint Cup point standings and still in search of his first win of the season.
"A win this season has been as elusive as Jeff Gordon last year at Phoenix," Bowyer said. "The wins will come. We've been solid all year. In fact, I've only got one DNF this year, so, for the most part, I've been much like Gordon — still running."
"On another note, Kyle Petty said Danica Patrick was not a 'race car driver. Danica responded by saying she is a woman and a driver. Likewise, she said Petty can also be two things at once—a son of a 'King' and a son of a bitch."
7. Kyle Busch — Busch recovered from an early spin to finish fifth in the Quaker State 400, his eighth top-five of the year. He is now seventh in the point standings, 110 out of first.
"Kentucky's John Calipari drove the pace car for Sunday's race," Busch said. "I think he completed only one lap and then called it quits, thus another 'one and done' in Kentucky."
8. Martin Truex, Jr. — Truex backed up his win at Sonoma with a seventh in the Quaker State 400. The result boosted him two places in the point standings to eighth, 120 out of first.
"A win at Sonoma followed by a top-10 at Kentucky," Truex said. "That's like going from wine to whiskey without missing a beat, something that NASCAR great Tim Richmond probably did better than anyone."
9. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski's day ended early at Kentucky when Kurt Busch's No. 78 car slid up and into the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge on lap 151. Keselowski's spinning car collected Greg Biffle's No. 16, essentially ending the day for both cars. Keselowski was credited with a 33rd-place finish and tumbled four spots in the point standings.
"Busch may drive the Furniture Row car," Keselowski said, "but there's no 'couching' his recklessness. I'm sure there are many other drivers who would agree with me, enough to form a committee, in fact, of which I'd happily 'chair.' With that being said, what's more likely? Furniture Row making a 'chaise,' or me making the 'Chase?'"
10. Joey Logano — Logano finished fourth at Kentucky, posting his fifth top-five result of the year. He is 10th in the Sprint Cup point standings, 131 behind Jimmie Johnson.
"Penske Racing drivers are earning a reputation of running others out of the Chase," Logano said. "I ran Denny Hamlin out, and Brad Keselowski is running himself out."