Wednesday, June 4, 2014

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 13

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson backed up his win at Charlotte with a dominant win in the FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks at Dover. Johnson led 272 of 500 laps for his second consecutive win, and guaranteed his spot in the Chase.

"The race was delayed 20 minutes to repair a pothole," Johnson said. "Interestingly enough, I 'cemented' my status as a Sprint Cup favorite.

"That's my ninth win at the Monster Mile. Obviously, that's one monster that doesn't scare me. I like to go fast at Dover. Forget Miles the Monster; I'm the 'Boogie Man' at Dover."

2. Jeff Gordon — Gordon was strong early but faded late to finish 15th at Dover, only his fifth finish outside the top 10 this year. As a result, Gordon fell from the top of the Sprint Cup points standings, and now trails Matt Kenseth by 2.

"What a run by Jimmie Johnson," Gordon said. "He already had the Dover record with eight wins; now it's nine. That's even more than what we've come to expect from Jimmie at the Monster Mile. I guess that's what you call 'Dover-achieving.'"

"How about that loose piece of track in the Monster Mile track? It really took a chunk out of Jamie McMurray's car. I've heard of tires having 'bite;' this time the track did."

3. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth, still in search of his first win of the season, finished third at Dover, earning his series-best 10th top-10 of the year. He assumed the lead in the points standings, and now holds a two-point edge over Jeff Gordon.

"Sure, we're disappointed we didn't win," Kenseth said. "But that was my third consecutive third-place finish, so our attitude is still upbeat and optimistic. And that's the morale of the story."

4. Joey Logano — Logano finished eighth at Dover, his seventh top 10 of the year, as Penske teammate Brad Keselowski took the runner-up spot behind Jimmie Johnson. Logano is now sixth in the points standings, 49 behind Matt Kenseth.

"It was a great weekend for Roger Penske," Logano said. "In addition to our top-10 finishes, Helio Castroneves and Will Power finished 1-2 in Sunday's Indy Dual In Detroit. Most owners drive themselves crazy in search of the kind of success Roger Penske enjoys. So, while Helio is climbing the fence, competing car owners are climbing the walls."

5. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt claimed ninth at Dover, posting his ninth top-10 finish of the year. He is fifth in the Sprint Cup points standings, 34 behind Matt Kenseth.

"After winning the Daytona 500," Earnhardt said, "I'm winless in the last 12 races. That pales in comparison to a 55-race winless streak or a 143-race winless streak. And speaking of 'pails,' I have a bucket list that's yet to be completed.

"You've probably heard about my race car graveyard. Unfortunately, it's not open to the public. In other words, it's a lot like my Sprint Cup championship — no one can see it."

6. Carl Edwards — Edwards finished 14th at Dover as Roush Fenway Racing failed to place a car in the top 10. Edwards is currently third in the points standings, 25 out of first.

"I'm 25 points behind my former teammate Matt Kenseth," Edwards said. "Once, I had an 'arm up' on him; now, he's got a leg up on me."

7. Kevin Harvick — Harvick suffered a flat tire while leading on lap 166 and lost two laps, eventually finishing 17th at Dover, one lap down.

"I'm not sure what caused the flat tire," Harvick said, "but I'm guessing a piece of the track was the culprit. Do I know this for sure? No, but nevertheless, I have 'concrete' evidence."

8. Kyle Busch — Busch's bid for the Trucks, Nationwide, and Sprint Cup sweep at Dover ended when he slammed the wall on lap 124. Busch was done for the day and finished 42nd.

"Clint Bowyer just ran me into the wall," Busch said. "So I chased him around the track. Don't believe me? Check the race results. You'll see next to Bowyer's name, it has 'running.'

"I understand Bowyer's spotter was at fault. So, maybe I jumped the gun a bit when I told Clint to 'watch where he's going.'"

9. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski started on the pole at Dover and finished second, as Penske teammate Joey Logano took eighth. Keselowski is eighth in the points standings, 59 out of first.

"I think NASCAR officials did a pretty good job repairing the pothole at Dover," Keselowski said. "But I think they may have put a little too much cement in the hole. And the No. 2 Miller Lite car agrees when it says 'less filling.'"

10. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin took two tires during the final caution at Dover and powered to a fifth-place finish, his first top-five since winning at Talladega. He is ninth in the Sprint Cup points standings, 84 behind Matt Kenseth,

"I was the only Joe Gibbs driver who wasn't ran into by Clint Bowyer," Hamlin said. "Is there a lesson to be learned from all this? Yes, there is. Don't say this to Clint: 'Go ahead. Make my day worse.'"

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