Wednesday, August 14, 2013
NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 22
Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson finished eighth at Watkins Glen, posting his series-best 15th top-10 result. His lead in the Sprint Cup point standings is 75 over Clint Bowyer.
"I envy Kyle Busch," Johnson said. "He faced three restarts in the final 12 laps and still won the race. The last time I faced three restarts, I didn't win a single race. In fact, I lost three.
"But I did officially clinch a spot in the Chase For the Cup. And I'm really intent on winning my sixth Cup title, if for no other reason than to distinguish myself from all the other drivers. As it stands right now, we can all count our championships on one hand."
2. Kyle Busch — Busch held on to the lead through three late restarts and held off Brad Keselowski to win the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen, earning his third win of the year. Busch is now fifth in the points standings, 115 behind Jimmie Johnson.
"Keselowski was on my tail," Busch said, "and I kept him there. And Brad surely knows an 'ass' when he sees one."
3. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer finished sixth at Watkins Glen, joining Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex, Jr. in the top 10. Bowyer is second in the points standings, 75 behind Jimmie Johnson.
"Unfortunately," Bowyer said, "I'm still winless on the season. That first win is proving to be as elusive as Jeff Gordon at Phoenix."
4. Kevin Harvick — Harvick led eight laps and finished 13th at Watkins Glen, He was the top finisher among Richard Childress Racing cars and is fourth in the Sprint Cup points standings, 101 out of first.
"My future employer Tony Stewart broke his leg in a sprint car accident last week," Harvick said. "It seems he's exchanged a clutch for a crutch. A cast is not the only thing I've signed for Tony this year. This all reminds of the time when the Winston Cup became the Nextel Cup, because NASCAR's gone 'Smoke-less.'"
5. Kasey Kahne — Kahne was spun during a restart with 11 to go and was subsequently rammed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Kahne finished 34th, eight laps down, and is 12th in the points standings.
"The S-turns spelled trouble on several restarts," Kahne said. "You could say 'The 'esses' hit the fan.' That left the No. 5 Farmers Insurance car heavily damaged. In other words, it was 'Kahne and dis-able-d.'"
6. Carl Edwards — Edwards posted his best finish since a third at Sonoma with a fourth at Watkins Glen, his seventh top-five of the year. He is third in the points standings, 80 behind Jimmie Johnson.
"The No. 99 Cheez-It Ford was solid," Edwards said. "Double thanks for Cheez-It for sponsoring my car, as well as the race. Who says NASCAR is a sport just for white crackers? It's a sport for orange crackers, as well."
7. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth found trouble on a restart with 10 laps to go when he got into Marcose Ambrose, who clipped Kasey Kahne, sending the No. 5 Hendrick Chevrolet spinning across the track, where it was slammed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Kenseth eventually finished 23rd, his second consecutive result outside the top 20.
"I took out two Hendrick Motorsports cars," Kenseth said. "That's one more than Jeff Gordon. Gordon likened Sunday's race to his going stag at his senior prom — he took himself out."
8. Brad Keselowski — After winning the Nationwide Zippo 200 on Saturday, Keselowski nearly completed the Watkins Glen sweep, taking second in the Cheez-It 355 At The Glen on Sunday. The results boosted the defending Cup champ four spots in the point standings to eighth.
"If I did nothing else," Keselowski said, "I gave Kyle and the No. 18 M&Ms car a scare. I could smell the fear. Let's just say his car wasn't the only place where there was chocolate.
"But let me just say this: I will win the 2013 championship. I will win the 2013 championship. I know I said that twice, but that may be the closest I come to a 'repeat.'"
9. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt finished 30th at Watkins Glen after plowing the spinning car of teammate Kasey Kahne with about 10 laps to go. Kahne was turned around after contact from Matt Kenseth after one of many late restarts. Earnhardt is now sixth in the points standings, 138 out of first, and still searching for his first win of the year.
"Sonoma, home of the season's first road course race, is wine and cheese country," Earnhardt said. "When you put the fans of Junior Nation in the crowd for the Cheez-It 355, it makes Watkins Glen fortified wine and Cheez country."
10. Martin Truex, Jr. — Truex battled up front for most of the day at Watkins Glen and finished third, recording his fifth top-five finish of the year. Truex jumped four spots in the points standings to 10th.
"Things are 'looking up' for Michael Waltrip Racing," Truex said. "Does that mean a Cup title is in the future for MWR? Not necessarily. It just means Michael Waltrip is tall."