Wednesday, March 19, 2014
NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 4
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski was in shape for a top-five finish before Kevin Harvick's blown engine littered the track with oil. Keselowski's No. 2 Miller Lite Ford rammed Jamie McMurray's No. 1 car, which had checked up. Keselowski still managed a 14th and took over the Sprint Cup points lead from Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
"That was quite a lot fluid on the track," Keselowski said. "At the 'Bull Ring,' that would be called 'Oil of Olé.'
"Harvick was 'on fire' at Phoenix, as well. The result was much different, however. He nearly burned the garage down after blowing his engine at Bristol, though. To sum it up, he went from 'distinguished' to 'extinguished.'"
2. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt suffered two blown tires and finished 24th, four laps down, at Bristol. He fell out of the lead in the points standings, and trails Brad Keselowski by 10.
"Tires notwithstanding" Earnhardt said, "it's been a 'Goodyear' for us so far.
"I find it hard to believe that someone accidentally hit a switch to make the caution lights come on. There have been rumors that there's a 'switch hitter' in NASCAR; maybe this is confirmation."
3. Jeff Gordon — Gordon finished seventh in the Food City 500, joining Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne in the top 10. This is the first time in his Sprint Cup career that Gordon has started the season with four top-10s.
"There's a first time for everything," Gordon said, "but apparently not a fifth time.
4. Carl Edwards — Edwards stayed out during a caution with 76 laps to go and assumed the lead, which he held to easily win the Food City 500, his first win of the year. Edwards held off Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Aric Almirola, and survived a mysterious caution with two laps to go, for the win.
"It was a long day," Edwards said, "but I was still able to perform my signature back flip. And speaking of 'flips,' someone accidentally 'flipped' a switch and turned on the caution lights with two laps to go. That sounds like 'B.S.' to me. Here in Bristol, that explanation had a 'bull ring' to it."
"I hear my former teammate Matt Kenseth is going to be a father again. I hear he's a great one. I bet he's amazing with a pacifier. That's probably why he's such a 'pacifist.'"
5. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson struggled at Bristol after blowing a right-front tire early in the race. He finished two laps down in 19th, his first finish outside the top 10 this season, and is now sixth in the points standings, 20 behind Brad Keselowski.
"After falling behind like that," Johnson said, "I just wanted to get the race over. But then there were weather delays. I felt like saying what everyone said after my fifth straight Cup title: 'Somebody stop this reign.' That's why they call Brad Keselowski, the driver that ended my five-year championship run, 'Reign delay.'"
6. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth was leading with about 100 laps remaining at Bristol, but nearly crashed when a rear tire went down. Kenseth kept the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota off the wall, and remained on the lead lap to eventually finished 13th. He is ninth in the point standings, 25 out of first.
"I nearly lost it," Kenseth said. "Hopefully, Toyota can 'find it' soon.
"As you might know, my wife and I are expecting a baby any minute now. I hope to be in the delivery room, but only under one condition: that Jeff Gordon is not in there with me. I absolutely don't want to be in the same room as Gordon at a time when everyone is yelling 'Push!'"
7. Joey Logano — Logano salvaged a 20th-place finish after early power steering problems sent him to the garage. He is now sixth in the point standings, 22 behind Brad Keselowski.
"Usually," Logano said, "I don't have steering 'problems' unless Denny Hamlin's in my way. There once was a 'wall' between us. But we've crashed through that wall. Luckily, no one suffered a back injury this time."
8. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin won the pole at Bristol and finished sixth, the top finisher among Joe Gibbs Racing cars. Hamlin is seventh in the points standings, 23 out of first.
"Caution lights 'accidentally' turned on," Hamlin said. "The NASCAR conspiracy theorists should have a field day with this. Ironically, NASCAR conspiracy theorists don't have a lot of light switches turning on in their heads.
9. Kevin Harvick — Harvick was leading on lap 450 when his engine blew, spewing oil along his path. Harvick guided his burning No. 4 Jimmy John's Chevy behind the pit wall, where it was doused.
"I really wanted to get out of that car," Harvick said. "I'm not even talking about the No. 4 car, but the No. 29 car.
"Everyone was talking after the race about 'Smoke.' That's because Tony Stewart finally posted a top-five finish. And where there's 'Smoke,' there's an ornery car owner with a bum leg who's still wondering how Kurt Busch ended up on his team."
10. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. — Stenhouse trailed leader Carl Edwards when a phantom caution slowed the race with two laps remaining. The race ended that way, with Stenhouse taking second, his best finish of the year.
"I was hoping for another restart," Stenhouse said. "I was prepared to use my bumper, if need be, to get by Edwards. Of course, maybe it would not have been wise to do that. If Edwards gets his tail punted, I might get my tail kicked.
"My girlfriend Danica Patrick finished 18th, her best finish of the season. I asked her to verify where she finished. She said 18th. I just wanted to make sure she 'knew her place.'"