Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 35

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson started on the pole and finished third in the AdvoCare 500, well ahead of Matt Kenseth, who struggled and finished 23rd. Johnson has a 28-point lead heading into Homestead, and needs only a finish of 23rd or better to clinch the Cup.

"Anything can happen at Homestead," Johnson said. "But I'd prefer that nothing happen.

"I'm close to my sixth Cup title, which would place me only one behind Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. My goal is to be mentioned in the same sentence with 'The King' and 'The Intimidator,' and I don't see anything stopping me, except a cool nickname."

2. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth finished 23rd on a disastrous day at Phoenix, handicapped by a car that proved unresponsive to adjustments. He started the day seven points behind Jimmie Johnson, and finished in a 28-point hole.

"I won my first Cup championship ten years ago," Kenseth said. "Likewise, my second Cup championship is history, also."

3. Kevin Harvick — Harvick won at Phoenix, recording his fourth win of the year in his next-to-last race with Richard Childress Racing. He is third in the points standings, 34 out of first.

"This may be my last victory burnout," Harvick said. "And speaking of 'burnout,' I am so ready to leave RCR. When you combine nepotism with narcissism, you get RCR. There's no 'I' in team, and trust me, there's no 'me' in that team."

4. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt continued his strong finish to the Chase with a fourth in the Advocare 500, his fourth-consecutive top 10 and seventh of the Chase. He is fifth in the Sprint Cup points standings, 63 out of first.

"It's important to build momentum for next year," Earnhardt said. "And we have. So, contrary to the fans of Junior Nation, who have a habit of saying 'Wait 'til next year,' I can't wait 'til next year."

5. Jeff Gordon — Gordon bounced back from a difficult Sunday at Texas with a solid 14th at Phoenix. He is sixth in the points standings, 80 behind Jimmie Johnson.

"Jimmie Johnson may be leading the points," Gordon said, "but I'm looking over my shoulder, as well. Is Clint Bowyer behind me?"

6. Kyle Busch — Busch finished seventh in the AdvoCare 500, posting his 21st top-10 result of the year. He is currently fourth in the points standings, 57 out of first.

"On a more positive note," Busch said, "I won my 12th Nationwide race of the season on Saturday. My civilian driving record says I'm not a 'Sunday driver,' and, apparently, so does my Sprint Cup driving record."

7. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski led 27 laps and finished 12th in the AdvoCare 500.

"Sadly, this just wasn't the year for the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford," Keselowski said. "Thus, my championship reign is ending at one year. It seems it was '2' time only one time."

8. Greg Biffle — Biffle took 13th at Phoenix on a day when Jimmie Johnson all but clinched the Sprint Cup championship. Biffle is now seventh in the points standings, 83 out of first.

"I plan to confront Johnson again," Biffle said, "and ask him, 'What's your problem?' If he responds, 'I got 99 problems, but a 'Biff' ain't one,' then he's officially the greatest driver of all-time."

9. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer finished 20th at Phoenix, another disappointing result in the Chase For the Cup. Bowyer has only two top-five finishes in the Chase.

"The race was called the 'AdvoCare 500,'" Bowyer said, "but not by everyone. To me, it was the 'I Don't Care 500.'"

10. Joey Logano — Logano scored another top-10 finish with a ninth at Phoenix. He is ninth in the points standings, 97 out of first.

"I almost took out Jimmie Johnson on the first lap," Logano said. "But I didn't, and that's too bad, because I really wanted to have an impact on the Chase."

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