Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 36

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson clinched his sixth Sprint Cup championship, and first in two years, with a ninth at Homestead. He finished the season 19 points ahead of Matt Kenseth.

"That's Cup number six," Johnson said. "Now it takes two hands to indicate my championships. That makes me a second-hand champion, and that's something everyone needs to get 'used' to."

2. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth started on the pole at Homestead and finished second, as Jimmie Johnson clinched the Sprint Cup championship. Kenseth finished second in the standings, 19 points back.

"We gave it our all," Kenseth said, "but that wasn't enough. And it's painful. But, all in all, it was a successful year for Joe Gibbs Racing. Still, JGR gently weeps."

3. Kevin Harvick — In his last race for Richard Childress Racing, Harvick took 10th in the Ford EcoBoost 400. He finished third in the points standings, 34 out of first.

"Like Kurt Busch, I'm off to drive for Tony Stewart," Harvick said. "I expect a smooth transition from RCR to Stewart Haas. Why? Because with Busch as a teammate, I already want to leave."

4. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt finished third at Homestead, posting his 10th top-five result of the year. He completed the year fifth in the points, 56 behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.

"I was awesome over the last five races," Earnhardt said. "In fact, I scored more points over the final five Chase races than Johnson and Matt Kenseth. Unlike me, Johnson can look back fondly on the 'first five.'"

5. Kyle Busch — Busch finished seventh in the Ford EcoBoost 400, scoring his 22nd top-10 result of the year. He finished the season fourth in the Sprint Cup points standings, 55 behind Jimmie Johnson.

"I'm happy to have a respectable Chase finish," Busch said. "But this championship is all about Jimmie Johnson. Six Cups is historic. Based on his driving, Jimmie deserves a statue. Based on his personality, he is a statue."

6. Jeff Gordon — Gordon, who won last year at Homestead, took 11th on Sunday, just missing his 18th top 10 of the year. He is sixth in the Sprint Cup points standings, 82 out of first.

"Jimmie Johnson raised the championship trophy for the sixth time," Gordon said. "I guess you could say, 'The world is his hoister.'"

7. Joey Logano — Logano, in the No. 22 Penske Ford, finished eighth at Homestead. He finished eighth in the points standings, 96 out of first.

"My friends call me 'Sliced Bread,'" Logano said. "My enemies call me 'Slight Build,' probably because I'm no threat, to them or the Sprint Cup championship."

8. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski won Saturday's Nationwide Ford EcoBoost 300 and finished sixth in Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400. Jimmie Johnson clinched the Sprint Cup title as Keselowski's one-year reign as champion came to an end.

"This year gave me very little to shout about," Keselowski said, "and even less to tweet about. But I'm still one of NASCAR's most individualistic drivers. Hopefully, when all is said and done, they won't be calling me the 'one and only' because of my single Sprint Cup title."

9. Greg Biffle — Biffle struggled with handling issues and came home 24th at Homestead, finishing ninth in the points standings, the highest among Roush Fenway Racing drivers.

"I'm of good mind to give Jimmie Johnson a piece of my mind," Biffle said. "Maybe that way, he'll give me a piece of his, and I can finally say I have the mindset of a champion."

10. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer finished fifth in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead. He finished seventh in the points standings, 83 behind Jimmie Johnson.

"Did you see Johnson's victory burnout?" Bowyer said. "It was impressive, but didn't produce anything like the smokescreen I made with my spin at Richmond."

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