Wednesday, April 30, 2014
NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 9
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Jeff Gordon — Gordon led 173 of 400 laps at Richmond, but his quest for his first win of the season fell short. He finished second behind Joey Logano after a spirited four-car battle for the win during the final laps. Gordon leads the Sprint Cup points standings, 5 ahead of Matt Kenseth.
"This race had everything," Gordon said. "Excitement, controversy, confrontation, and a punch. Marcos Ambrose really let Casey Mears have it. I guess you could say the Australian gave him a 'vegemite knuckle sandwich.' It was 'Aus-some!'
"NASCAR doesn't have the guts to admit it, but I think Ambrose's punch was good for the sport. There's plenty of 'talking smack' is NASCAR; finally, someone actually did more than just talk it."
2. Joey Logano — Logano started fourth on the race's final restart and zoomed to the lead as Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, and Brad Keselowski jockeyed for position. Logano took the lead with three laps to go and held on for his second win of the year.
"I passed three NASCAR Sprint Cup champions," Logano said. "While Kenseth and Gordon were sandwiching Keselowski, 'Sliced Bread' stole the win. Thanks to my teammate for helping me with the win. Brad then jumped on my hood to congratulate me. I'm not surprised. Just ask Kenseth. Brad was feeling a little 'froggy.'
"Marcos Ambrose punched Casey Mears. That aggressiveness inspired me, so I punched my ticket. Here's hoping it doesn't punch back."
3. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth lead on the final restart and valiantly held off Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski, but in doing so allowed Joey Logano to slip by for the win. Kenseth finished fifth and was confronted after the race by Keselowski, who accused Kenseth of blocking.
"Brad had some words from me," Kenseth said. "He can get mouthy when he's angry just as easily as he can get 'gummy' when he smiles.
"But there's no place for violence in this sport, at least not from me. If I 'raise my hand,' you can rest assured it's because I want to ask a question."
4. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt finished seventh in the Toyota Owners 400, posting his sixth top-10 of the year. He is fifth in the points standings, 32 behind Jeff Gordon.
"I don't appreciate getting caught up in Brad Keselowski's desire for vengeance," Earnhardt said. "He'll 'pay' for this, most likely with a 'brake check.'"
5. Kyle Busch — After rough going for the better part of Saturday's race, Busch stormed to the front on the final restart and claimed third in the Toyota Owners 400. He is now fourth in the points standings, 31 behind Jeff Gordon.
"What a great run by Joey Logano," Busch said. "But he's not the happiest driver of the day. That would be my brother Kurt. He's thrilled that someone got punched and it wasn't him.
"But let's be serious for a minute. Ambrose and Mears finished 18th and 19th, respectively. Is that worth a punch in the eye? By that rationale, Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who finished 34th and 38th, could have very well scrapped. In that case, someone would have taken one right in the kisser."
6. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski battled for the lead late at Richmond, but was held at bay by Matt Kenseth's tactics, which were dirty, according to Keselowski. Keselowski finished fourth as Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano took the win.
"Kenseth tried to run me into the wall," Keselowski said. "I called it a 'mind-boggling' move. What's really mind-boggling is that I found it mind-boggling.
"We had a car honoring Detroit Genuine Parts. Detroit is known for its car parts. The city is littered with them."
7. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson lost a front tire with 34 laps to go at Richmond and limped home to a 32nd-place finish. He is now eighth in the points standings and still winless on the year.
"It's been a tough year for us so far," Johnson said. "But, despite being a six-time Sprint Cup champion, I'm human just like every other driver. The worse that can happen to me is the same as the worse that can happen to them — not winning the championship."
8. Carl Edwards — Edwards took ninth at Richmond, recording his fifth top-10 result of the year. He remained third in the Sprint Cup points standings and trails Jeff Gordon by 28.
"Robert Griffin III drove the pace car at Richmond," Edwards said. "He was recruited by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Those two have a lot in common; they've never won a championship, and they both like white women."
9. Ryan Newman — Newman finished eighth in the Toyota Owners 400, posting his fourth top 10 of the year. He stands ninth in the points standings, 69 out of first.
"Casey Mears got KO'd," Newman said, "while Brad Keselowski got PO'd. I'm shocked ... shocked that Ambrose's punch wasn't an uppercut. If it had been, we could say that the punch, much like Ambrose himself, came from 'Down Under.'"
10. Kevin Harvick — Harvick finished 11th at Richmond, posting the top finish among Stewart-Haas Racing drivers. Race winner Joey Logano joined Harvick as the only two-time winners this season.
"What a race!" Harvick said. "And what a punch by Marcos Ambrose. I'm sure that left Casey Mears with a black eye, which, in NASCAR's eyes, is proof enough that the 'Drive For Diversity' program is working."