Wednesday, November 6, 2013

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 34

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson led 255 of 334 laps in a dominant win at Texas, his sixth win of the year. Johnson now leads Matt Kenseth, who finished fourth, by 7 points in the Sprint Cup points standings.

"I had the same 7-point lead after Texas last November," Johnson said, "and didn't win the championship. I'm hoping this is one time when I don't repeat."

2. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth finished fourth in the AAA Texas 500, slowed by a pit road speeding penalty midway through the race. Jimmie Johnson won and took a 7-point lead in the points standings.

"I'm neither throwing in the towel," Kenseth said, "nor am I waving the white flag. Ask anyone, except Carl Edwards, and they'll tell you there's no surrender in me."

3. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt took the runner-up spot at Texas, following Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson across the line. It was Earnhardt's third second-place finish of the Chase.

"There have been a lot of great drivers who have never won a Cup," Earnhardt said. "Hopefully I can put myself in that category someday."

4. Jeff Gordon — One week after victory at Martinsville, disaster struck for Gordon at Texas, as a blown tire on lap 74 sent him into the wall. He eventually finished 38th, 187 laps down, and tumbled to sixth in the points, 69 out of first.

"Are you sure this is the AAA 500 and not the NRA 500?" Gordon said. "Because my championship hopes are 'shot.'"

5. Kevin Harvick — Harvick finished eighth at Texas and is now third in the points standings, 40 out of first.

"Will I be happier at Stewart-Haas Racing?" Harvick said. "Well, as Richard Childress has clearly stated, it's all relative."

6. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer came home tenth in the AAA Texas 500, posting his 18th top-10 of the year. He is seventh in the Sprint Cup points standings, 69 out of first.

"This race in Texas wasn't sponsored by the NRA," Bowyer said. "In hindsight, maybe the race in Richmond should have been sponsored by the NRA, because there were at least two amendments made to the Chase field afterwards."

7. Kyle Busch — Busch, who won at Texas in April, finished 13th on Sunday in the AAA 500. Like many drivers, Busch's day was hindered by a blown tire suffered early in the race.

"The blown tire put me in a hole early," Busch said. "I felt much like a North Carolina state trooper chasing me, because I was playing catch up."

8. Greg Biffle — Biffle finished 12th at Texas, leading one lap after starting 18th. He is eighth in the points standings, 73 behind Jimmie Johnson.

"I apologized to Johnson for my actions at Martinsville," Biffle said. "It was only the second most controversial 'spin' move in NASCAR this year. Maybe I shouldn't have grabbed Jimmie from behind, but that's where I always seem to find myself."

9. Joey Logano — Logano finished third in the AAA Texas 500, posting his first top-five result since a fourth at Kansas in early October.

"It felt good to run with the big dogs," Logano said, "instead of from them."

10. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski led 30 laps and finished sixth in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas, one day after winning the Nationwide Series race.

"I may not repeat as champion," Keselowski said, "but the future is bright for this 29-year-old. I see nothing but clear, sunny skies ahead, because the 'reign' is over."

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