NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 3
March 12, 2014 by Jeffrey Boswell • Print Story •
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt's engine sputtered on the final lap at Las Vegas, allowing Brad Keselowski to pass for the win as fuel mileage cost the No. 88 its second win of the year. Still, Earnhardt has a win and two runner-ups, and leads Keselowski in the points standings by 1.
"We took a gamble,"Earnhardt said. "Some would call it 'rolling the dice.' That would be inaccurate. We only rolled one, because my engine 'die'd.' And Junior Nation is not a happy bunch. 'MPG' has moved to the top of the Nation's list of most-hated three-letter acronyms, right above 'DWI' and 'STD.'
"If only my gas tank was as big as expectations, we would have won the race handily."
2. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski raced by Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s fuel-compromised Chevy on the final lap to win the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Keselowski also won Saturday's Nationwide race, giving him his first weekend sweep.
"The No. 2 Miller Lite Ford was exceptional," Keselowski said. "It's hard to lose when you're traveling at the speed of 'Lite.' This win has certainly sent our confidence sky-high. You could say we have a collective 'brews'd ego.'
"It was a great week for Roger Penske. Not only did Penske Racing post two wins, Roger aced No. 4 at Augusta National golf course. Roger carries nothing but drivers in his bag. He's not a member at Augusta, but he wears a green jacket nonetheless — it's made of money."
3. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson led 34 laps and finished sixth at Las Vegas, giving him three top 10s in all three races this season. He is third in the Sprint Cup points standings, 16 out of first.
"Brad Keselowski was awarded a giant wrench for winning the Kobalt 400," Johnson said. "It may not have been a symbolic win, but it was a symbolic trophy. And he can have it. I'm not into symbolic trophies, but I am into symbolic 'Cups.'
4. Joey Logano — Logano won the pole at Las Vegas, beating out teammate Brad Keselowski, as Penske Racing again swept the front row in qualifying. Logano finished fourth, while Keselowski notched the win.
"Brad and I love the new qualifying format," Logano said. "Knockout qualifying has made us 'qualifying knockouts.' Roger put Penske on the map; we put Penske on the grid."
5. Jeff Gordon — Gordon finished ninth in the Kobalt 400 as Hendrick Motorsports placed four drivers in the top 10, led by Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s runner-up. Gordon is fifth in the points standings, 18 behind Earnhardt.
"I liked Junior's decision to gamble," Gordon said, "despite the fact that it didn't work out. He went 'all in,' and ended up 'all out.'
"Earnhardt, Jimmie Johnson, and I all have three top-10 finishes to start the season, so it's safe to say we're all threats to win the Sprint Cup championship. But don't forget about Kasey Kahne. As I've been saying for the last 13 years, you should be on the lookout for 'No. 5.'"
6. Carl Edwards — Like Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Edwards and the No. 99 team gambled on fuel mileage and came up just short. Edwards still managed to finish fifth, and vaulted two spots in the Sprint Cup points standings to sixth.
"We had a car capable of winning," Edwards said, "but Lady Luck was not on our side. And let's face it, she's the only female, save for Miss Sprint Cup, worth having around in NASCAR."
7. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth was the lone Toyota driver in the top 10 at Las Vegas, finishing 10th in the Kobalt 400. He moved up one spot to sixth in the points, where he trails Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by 28.
"The Toyota's didn't quite have the speed to keep up with the Fords and Chevys," Kenseth said. "I'm not worried. Toyota's won 13 times last season. It's just a matter of time before the Toyota's re-'Orient' themselves at the front of the pack."
8. Ryan Newman — Newman posted his second top-10 result of the year with a seventh at Las Vegas. He jumped six spots to ninth in the points standings, 36 out of first.
"I really feel comfortable in the Richard Childress Racing No. 31 car," Newman said. "It's a car that fans most associate with Jeff Burton. Sometimes, it seems like Jeff's in the car with me. When that happens, I just do my best Richard Childress impression and tell him to leave."
9. Kyle Busch — Busch finished 11th at Las Vegas, as Joe Gibbs Racing cars took the 10, 11, and 12 spots. Busch is now tenth in the Sprint Cup points standings, 36 out of first.
"Congratulations to Brad Keselowski's fuel tank for getting him the win," Busch said. "Much like Brad, it was full of it.
"My brother Kurt is planning to race in both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca Cola 600 on Sunday, May 25th. This will be historic. The last time Kurt said 'Make it a double,' he was talking to his plastic surgeon about his ears."
10. Kevin Harvick — Harvick led 23 laps at Las Vegas before a broken wheel hub sent him to the garage. He eventually finished 41st, 30 laps down.
"It was a shaky day for Stewart Haas Racing," Harvick said. "Danica Patrick was our top finisher with a 21st. Danica said that's the highest she's been in months, which could possibly trigger a test under NASCAR's drug policy."