NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 18

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson was dominant at Daytona and held on after several late restarts to win the Coke Zero 400. Johnson became the first driver to sweep both Daytona races since Bobby Allison in 1982.

"I did something Allison did at Daytona," Johnson said, "but instead of Cale Yarborough, I punched the accelerator. Just call it a 2.5-milestone.

"I've apparently overcome my problems with restarts. Now I know that if you can't restart, you can't finish."

2. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth's race ended on lap 149 when he swerved to avoid Denny Hamlin's spinning No. 11 only to be hammered by Jeff Gordon's No. 24. Kenseth finished 33rd and fell one spot to sixth in the point standings, 118 out of first.

"I'm not sure what caused Hamlin to spin," Kenseth said, "but he's seen more walls than China. What's Hamlin's favorite concept album? Pink Floyd's The Wall. His favorite Clint Eastwood movie? Sudden Impact. His favorite mixed drink? A Harvey Wallbanger."

3. Kevin Harvick — Harvick seemed to be primed for a late flourish at Daytona, lined up with Tony Stewart with race leader Jimmie Johnson in his sights. However, late cautions prevented Harvick from challenging, and he settled for third in the Coke Zero 400.

"One would think more restarts would be to Johnson's disadvantage," Harvick said. "However, much like he did to my No. 29 car, he put his problems with restarts behind him.

"Johnson's car was just too strong. The No. 48 Lowe's Chevy seemed to have an extra gear. And judging by his lead in the points, I can understand why Johnson calls it 'sixth.'"

4. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer charged late at Daytona to take fourth in the Coke Zero 400, earning his seventh top-five result of the year. He assumed second in the point standings, only 49 behind Jimmie Johnson.

"Several cars, all three Michael Waltrip Racing cars included, "Bowyer said, "failed inspection last Thursday for having illegal roof flaps. You could say NASCAR 'razed' the roof."

5. Kyle Busch — Busch survived two crashes, one on lap 98 and one on the final lap, to salvage a 12th at Daytona. He is seventh in the Sprint Cup point standings, 125 out of first.

"After that first wreck," Busch said, "my car was held together with duct tapes and prayers, much like A.J. Allmendinger's career.

"Shaquille O'Neal, Adam Sandler, and Kevin James gave the command to 'start your engines. I 'acted' excited, which probably makes me more of an actor than either one of them."

6. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt finished eighth at Daytona, but was never a factor to win at one of his favorite tracks. He improved one spot in the point standings to fifth, and now trails Jimmie Johnson by 110.

"How about that post-race fireworks show?" Earnhardt said. "It was awesome! And speaking of things that were 'lit' in the infield on Saturday, the fans of Junior Nation were in rare form. They are the most patriotic fans in NASCAR; not only do they show 'spirit,' they drink it."

7. Carl Edwards — Edwards was snagged in a final-lap pileup at Daytona and finished a disappointing 29th, the lowest finish among Roush Fenway Racing drivers. Edwards is now third in the Sprint Cup point standings, 71 out of first.

"The No. 99 Subway Ford just got tore up at the end," Edwards said. "And speaking of Subway, they missed a heck of an opportunity to promote the World War Z movie. Zombies and Subway? That's ready-made for a 'Subway-Eat Flesh' advertising campaign."

8. Tony Stewart — Stewart's late run to the front resulted in the runner-up finish at Daytona, a result that shot him up six places in the point standings and into the top 10. He is 10th in the standings, nine ahead of Kasey Kahne in 12th.

"Kurt Busch and I made huge strides to enter the top 10 of the point standings," Stewart said. "And that's reason to celebrate. Kurt and I high-fived; I missed, and hit Kurt in the face."

9. Greg Biffle — Biffle finished 17th at Daytona after getting caught in a late-race accident on the 2.5-mile circuit. He is now eighth in the point standings, 142 out of first.

"I'm disappointed," Biffle said, "but encouraged that our second trip to Pocono is less than one month away. That race will be called the 'GoBowling.com 400.' I'm guessing there will be a lot of spare tires there. Who talked the sport of bowling into sponsoring a stock car race? I'd pin it on the NASCAR marketing department. Groan if you must, but it takes big balls to find the nerve to offer such bad jokes."

10. Kurt Busch — Busch was strong all night at Daytona, racing to a sixth in the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet. Busch moved up five places to ninth in the point standings, 157 out of first.

"Five places is a big leap in the standings," Busch said. "I guess I was feeling froggy, and for once, it seems, I jumped."

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