Wednesday, October 16, 2013

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 31

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth finished third in the Bank Of America 500, one spot ahead of Jimmie Johnson, and extended his lead from three to four in the Sprint Cup point standings.

"There's one person I want to keep at arm's length," Kenseth said, "and that's Johnson. Everyone else doesn't matter, except for Carl Edwards, who needs to stay two arm lengths away."

2. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson faltered on the race's final restart and fell to seventh before charging for a fourth-place finish. He now trails Matt Kenseth by four in the points standings.

"I feel like I may have given one away there," Johnson said. "Restarts have troubled me all year. And restarts mean I have to re-finish. And clearly, as a two-year title draught would suggest, I don't finish like I used to."

3. Kevin Harvick — Harvick finished sixth at Charlotte, posting his third-straight top-10 result. He is 29 behind Matt Kenseth in the points standings.

"I'd like to say I still have a chance to win the Cup," Harvick said, "but the facts don't support that. You could say I don't have a leg to stand on. And you can say the opposite about Tony Stewart."

4. Kyle Busch — Busch finished fifth at Charlotte as arch-nemesis Brad Keselowski won the Bank of America 500. Busch is fifth in the Sprint Cup points standings, 37 out of first.

"I guess I'm more like Keselowski than I would care to mention," Busch said. "Apparently, we're both stupid, and neither of us has a chance to win the Cup."

5. Jeff Gordon — Gordon won the pole on Thursday and took seventh in the Bank of America 500. He has five top-10 finishes in six Chase races, and is fourth in the points, 36 out of first.

"Talladega next on the schedule," Gordon said, "and anything can happen. Usually, when I ask for a miracle, I try to speak to God. Nowadays, it's a little easier — I just talk to Clint Bowyer."

6. Kurt Busch — Busch posted a 14th in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet at Charlotte, and is seventh in the points standings, 59 out of first.

"I don't condone my brother Kyle's characterization of Brad Keselowski as 'stupid,'" Busch said. "Kyle obviously thinks he's advocating NASCAR's 'Drive For Diversity' when he, as the pot, calls the kettle 'black.'"

7. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer finished 11th in the Bank of America 500 and improved one spot in the points standings to eighth. He trails Matt Kenseth by 63.

"Things could get very interesting at Talladega," Bowyer said. "Not as interesting as things got in Richmond, but interesting nonetheless.

"Because of NAPA's pulled sponsorship, Michael Waltrip Racing will run only two full-time teams in Sprint Cup next year. Michael tried his best to do more, but sometimes, you just aren't able to manipulate the outcome."

8. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski recovered from trouble in the pits to win for the first time this year, taking the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte.

"I made a full lap with the jack stuck under my car," Keselowski said. "That's the least I can do. I simply returned the favor — that jack's been giving me lifts all tear.

"And speaking of 'jacks,' Kyle Busch is a lot like a jack, in that there's always a 'let down.'"

9. Greg Biffle — Biffle finished 16th at Charlotte, and is now sixth in the points standings, 58 out of first.

"There will be an NCAA football game at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2016," Biffle said. "It will likely be the most passing ever seen at a NASCAR track."

10. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt finished 15th at Charlotte, one lap down. He is ninth in the Sprint Cup power rankings, 66 out of first.

"I'm ready for Talladega," Earnhardt said, "and so are the fans of Junior Nation. They go absolutely crazy in the 'Dega infield. So crazy, in fact, that they're known as the 'Infield-els.'"

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