Wednesday, March 26, 2014
NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 5
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Carl Edwards — Edwards took 10th in the Auto Club 400 on a wild day in Fontana. Edwards now leads the Sprint Cup points standings by one over Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
"It was an eventful day in Fontana," Edwards said. "You had lead changes, exploding tires, malfunctioning lights, and Muppets. Of course, the only thing unusual about that in NASCAR is the Muppets.
"Tires played a huge role in Sunday's race. I think a lot of cars were running on under-inflated tires, and that caused the excessive tire wear. Unfortunately for them, they didn't 'air' on the side of caution."
2. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt finished 12th in the Auto Club 400, his second straight race outside of the top 10 after three top-two finishes to start the season. He trails Carl Edwards by 1 in the points standings.
"Despite my fans' high opinion of me," Earnhardt said, "I'm no god. So, it was only a matter of time before I 'came back down to Earth.' In fact, the only thing 'hole-y' at Auto Club Speedway last weekend were the tires."
3. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski led 38 laps early at California and was poised for a likely top-five finish before a flat left rear tire sent him down in the order. He finished 26th, and is now third in the points standings, 4 behind Carl Edwards.
"It was a frustrating day," Keselowski said. "Not only did tires hurt us, NASCAR had another problem with lights. It's a situation similar to that of NASCAR's 'Driver For Diversity' program — hey just can't seem to get the 'color' right."
4. Jeff Gordon — Gordon had the lead with two laps to go, but Clint Bowyer's spin ruined his plan to finish on old tires. After frantic pit stops, Gordon lost track position and finished 13th. He is third in the points standings, two out of first.
"Bowyer cost me the race," Gordon said. "I'd go so far as to say his spin was intentional. And movie gurus in Hollywood even noticed. Which leads to the tie-in for next Bruce Willis blockbuster: 'Old Habits Die Hard.'"
5. Kyle Busch — Busch jumped to the lead on a green-white-checkered finish at Auto Club Speedway and took the win, his second straight win at California. Busch is now 7th in the points standings, 28 behind Carl Edwards.
"Kyle Larson almost stole the win," Busch said. "That would have been a case of 'Larson'y.'
"Tire problems were the story of the day. But we didn't have any. Maybe that's because we ran Goodyear's recommended pounds per square inch inflation level. I'm glad we did, because I'm 'pumped.'"
6. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson had the race in hand before blowing a tire seven laps from the finish, leading to a wild finish that Kyle Busch capped off for the win. Johnson finished 24th and is now eighth in the points standings, 21 out of first.
"We weren't the only ones that suffered tire problems," Johnson said. "Chad Knaus can certainly relate to our tire issues — they're both 'balding.'
"It was a crazy day in Fontana. 'Gonzo' the Muppet gave the order to start the engines. But what good is he to me? Sure, he can tell me how to get to Sesame Street, but I need to know how to get to Victory Lane."
7. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth started on pole at California and finished fourth, while teammate Kyle Busch took the win. Kenseth is now fourth in the points standings, seven out of first.
"Is it me," Kenseth said, "or is Michael Waltrip's pre-race crowd surfing growing old? It was like the Sixth Sense out there — he sees dead people. Guess what, Michael? That wasn't Donna Summer. You know why? Because she wouldn't be caught dead at a NASCAR race."
8. Tony Stewart — Stewart posted his second consecutive top-five result, finishing fifth in the Auto Club 400.
"I was battling Kurt Busch for the lead on the final lap," Stewart said. "The next thing I know, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson went right by us. Eventually, Kurt finished third and I finished fifth. It was just like old times in the NASCAR hauler for the two of us — there was someone 'separating' us."
9. Ryan Newman — Newman led three laps and finished 20th at California. He is seventh in the point standings, 36 out of first.
"Kyle Busch may be 'Hell on Wheels,'" Newman said, "but that track is 'Hell on Tires.' Fontana's surface is more abrasive than my relationship with Rusty Wallace.
"Michael Waltrip tried to chat me up on his pre-race walk through pit row. He wasn't looking for the bathroom, but I told him where it was anyway. Michael just the opposite of a Goodyear tire — he's 'full of it.'"
10. Kyle Larson — Rookie sensation Kyle Larson finished second at California, nearly completing the weekend sweep after winning the Nationwide race on Saturday.
"I may have just clinched NASCAR's Rookie of the Year award," Larson said. "I may be a rookie, but I certainly belong here with the big boys. I earned my seat in the car on merit. You hear me, Austin Dillon? The only thing my grandfather gave me was DNA."