Wednesday, July 31, 2013
NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 20
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson controlled the Brickyard 400 until a slow pit stop late in the race likely cost him any chance at the win. He finished second behind Ryan Newman and still maintained a healthy led in the Sprint Cup point standings.
"I'm certainly disappointed in the last pit stop," Johnson said. "But what can you do, short of reciting the Lowe's motto to my pit crew and tell them to 'Never stop improving.'
"They call me '5-Time.' I used to think that was because of my five titles. Now I think it's because I've lost a race I should have won five times this year."
2. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth finished fifth in the Brickyard 400, posting his fifth top-five result of the year. He is sixth in the point standings, 120 out of first.
"I'm thrilled with the result," Kenseth said. "After a shaky start to the season, the No. 20 Toyota engines have been quite reliable. This was the 20th running of the Brickyard 400, and I'm happy my 20 was still running."
3. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer led a lap late on Sunday but had to pit for fuel, resulting in a 20th in the Brickyard 400. He remained second in the point standings, 75 behind Jimmie Johnson.
"I'm still searching for my first win," Bowyer said, "and I'll do anything to win. That includes sitting on a cushion of hundreds of bottles of 5-Hour Energy at Pocono this Sunday. Maybe a 'booster seat' is exactly what I need to win."
4. Kevin Harvick — Harvick finished a disappointing 19th at Indianapolis, falling victim to fuel mileage that forced a late pit stop for a splash of gas. He remained fourth in the point standings and trails Jimmie Johnson by 92.
"That may have been the most uneventful race in NASCAR history," Harvick said. "We may only visit Indianapolis once a year, but this race sure was 'common place.'"
5. Carl Edwards — Edwards came home 13th at Indianapolis, recording the top finish for Roush Fenway Racing. He is now third in the Sprint Cup point standings, 85 behind Jimmie Johnson.
"Johnson has run away with the points lead," Edwards said. "A lot of people call me 'Cousin Carl.' Not Jimmie; he calls me 'Distant Third Cousin Carl.'"
6. Kyle Busch — One day after winning the Nationwide Indiana 250 on Saturday, Busch finished 10th in the Brickyard 400 for his 12th top-10 Sprint Cup of the year. He is seventh in the point standings, 130 out of first.
"Ryan Newman certainly made his presence known at Indianapolis," Busch said. "You could say the Brickyard 400 was a lot like Juan Montoya's head — Newman put his 'stamp' on it."
"NASCAR has suspended the use of aerial cameras. And speaking of faulty things in high places, Brian France is still the chairman of NASCAR."
7. Tony Stewart — Stewart finished third at the Brickyard as Stewart-Haas teammate Ryan Newman captured his first win of the year. Stewart currently holds one of the wild card spots in the Chase For the Cup standings.
"What a win by Ryan," Stewart said. "As drivers with no necks go, he stands head and shoulders above the rest. If I didn't know better, I'd say Ryan's earned his keep. It's too bad I can't keep him."
8. Kasey Kahne — Kahne finished third at Indianapolis, one spot behind Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson, who was searching for his fifth Brickyard win. Kahne is ninth in the point standings, 176 out of first.
"The race was Jimmie's until that fateful final pit stop," Kahne said. "If Kevin Harvick is the 'Closer,' then Jimmie must be the 'Opener,' because he's left more doors open than Bruton Smith's butler."
9. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt finished sixth at Indianapolis as Hendrick Motorsports took three of the top six spots at the Brickyard. Earnhardt is fifth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 124 behind Jimmie Johnson.
"Jimmie let another win slip through his fingers," Earnhardt said. "That's bad for Jimmie, but perfect for a promotional tie-in with Lowe's. Whenever Jimmie loses a race he should have won, customers can expect 'giveaways' at their local Lowe's home improvement stores.
"I'm still looking for sponsors for the last 12 races this season. Usually, it's not hard to find people willing to pay for my name or image — they're Junior fans in a tattoo parlor."
10. Ryan Newman — With a speedy two-tire pit stop with 30 laps to go, Newman took the lead and held on the win the Brickyard 400. Starting on the pole, Newman won a race-long battle with Jimmie Johnson, who suffered a slow final pit stop that may have cost him the lead.
"This was a timely win," Newman said. "I'm an Indiana native who had gone 49 races without a win, so I wanted it badly, and so did my home fans. Before the race, you could have said, 'This native's restless.'"
"Does Tony Stewart regret letting me go from Stewart-Hass Racing? Maybe. I don't fault Tony. It was a business decision, one that an owner like Tony has to make sometimes. It's like they say, 'Where there's Smoke, there's fired.'"