Wednesday, August 28, 2013
NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 24
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth led the final 125 laps and held off Kasey Kahne to win the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol, his series-best fifth win of the year. If the Chase For the Cup started this week, Kenseth would be the top seed.
"That's three times Kahne's finished second to me this year," Kenseth said. "I can totally relate to Kasey feeling like a bridesmaid — Carl Edwards used to make me feel like a woman all the time."
2. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson hit the spinning No. 83 car of David Reutimann, damaging the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet. Johnson finished 60 laps down in 36th as Matt Kenseth took the win.
"I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," Johnson said. "And I seem to really know where that place is lately.
"Just like that, my points lead has gone from 75 to 18. Of course, it didn't help when I plowed into Reutimann. And that reminds of what the farmer said to the farmhand who left early: 'Come back to the field.'"
3. Kasey Kahne — Kahne chased Matt Kenseth down the stretch at Bristol, but could never make a successful pass, settling for second in the Irwin Tools Night Race. It was the third time this year Kahne has finished second to Kenseth.
"The consensus is that Kenseth is the biggest challenge to Jimmie Johnson for this year's Cup," Kahne said. "And I 'second' that. Apparently, Kenseth has my number. And it's '2.'"
4. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer led 50 laps at Bristol but contact with a lapped car caused a spin that sent him right into the path of Bobby Labonte's No. 47. After working his way back to the front, Bowyer ran out of fuel on the final lap and finished 14th. Although still winless on the year, he is second in the points standings, 18 behind Jimmie Johnson.
"That's what you call a 'run' of bad luck," Bowyer said.
"Despite my troubles, I still clinched a spot in the Chase. But it gets better. I'll likely be the first to clinch the last spot, as well."
5. Kyle Busch — Busch started 43rd at Bristol and survived a brush with the wall to finish 10th, his 14th top-10 result of the year. He is fifth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 82 behind Jimmie Johnson.
"It was an eventful day for Joe Gibbs Racing," Busch said. "Matt Kenseth held off Kasey Kahne, and Denny Hamlin told off Kevin Harvick.
"My brother Kurt just signed to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing next year. He'll team with Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and Danica Patrick to form the most ornery racing team in history."
6. Carl Edwards — Edwards' engine gave way while he was leading on lap 387 at Bristol, relegating him to a 39th in the Irwin Tools Night Race. Instead of the chance to compete for his second win this year, Edwards suffered his worst finish of the year.
"It's official," Edwards said. "Kurt Busch has signed to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. I'm not sure of the financials of the deal, but word around the campfire is that Busch will be paid hourly. He'll punch in, and Stewart will punch him out."
7. Kevin Harvick — Harvick's No. 29 Jimmy John's Chevrolet was collected in a lap 449 wreck triggered when Brian Vickers clipped Denny Hamlin, cutting the No. 11 Toyota's right front tire and sending it into traffic. Afterwards on pit lane, Hamlin pushed Harvick's car out of Hamlin's pit stall, leading to a minor confrontation between the two drivers.
"It appears that Tony Stewart isn't the only driver causing me to 'move,'" Harvick said. "And I though Ryan Newman got 'pushed out' in a hurry.
"I just asked Hamlin what his problem was. He said he had 99 of them, but a son of a bitch wasn't one."
8. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — After two consecutive finishes 30th or worse, Earnhardt ground out a tough 10th at Bristol, posting his 13th top 10 of the year. Still, he is winless on the year, and if he doesn't win in the next two weeks, will find himself at the bottom when the Chase field is set.
"Hopefully," Earnhardt said, "the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevy can find victory in the next two weeks. You've likely seen my commercial featuring the slogan 'This is how we Dew.' But, for a driver who hasn't won all year, 'This is how we don't.'"
9. Joey Logano — Last week's winner at Michigan, Logano solidified his Chase hopes with a fifth at Bristol. He vaulted three spots from 13th to 10th in the points standing, and leads Brad Keselowski in 11th by four points.
"I'm poised to make the Chase," Logano said, "while defending Cup champ Keselowski may be left out. In that case, I could very well be the face of Penske Racing. Either way, it's not a pretty picture."
10. Greg Biffle — Biffle posted his second straight top-10 finish with a ninth in the Irwin Tools Night Race. He improved one spot to ninth in the points standings, and is 17 ahead of 11th place.
"Bruton Smith gave Danica Patrick a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes," Biffle said. "As a show of appreciation, Danica gave Bruton a restraining order."