NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 18

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jeff Gordon — Gordon overcame damage in an early wreck at Daytona and finished 12th, maintaining the points lead. He leads Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by 27, as Hendrick drivers occupy the top three spots.

"It was all about survival," Gordon said, "and I survived. 'It's called survival, only the strong can survive.' And that may be the first and last time a NASCAR driver quotes Grand Master Flash.

"And speaking of NASCAR and rappers, I haven't seen 50 Cent around lately. That may be because Erin Andrews told him to kiss off."

2. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson was caught in a lap 20 wreck that ended his day with a 42nd-place finish, his worst of the year. He is third in the points standings, 55 out of first.

"What a day for Aric Almirola," Johnson said. "Richard Petty made the 43 car famous; Almirola made it relevant, at least on Sunday. That makes Aric 'King' for a day. And he'll be in the news consistently for the coming week. So that makes Aric a loyal subject."

3. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt finished 14th at Daytona, the top finisher among Hendrick Motorsports cars. He is second in the Sprint Cup points standings, 27 behind Jeff Gordon.

"I was looking for the Daytona sweep," Earnhardt said. "Unfortunately, there wasn't a broom in sight — only mops.

"That's probably one of the wettest weeks of racing at Daytona. The rain affected everything: practice, qualifying, and the race. But it was business as usual for Junior Nation in the Daytona infield — their alcohol consumption dictates that they're never dry."

4. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski finished a lap down in 18th in the Coke Zero 400. Kesekowski's No. 2 Chevy was one of 25 cars affected by a lap 97 pile-up that forced a red flag.

"I'm not sure who started that mess," Keselowski said, "but I'd like to punch them. Hopefully, should I open up a can of whoop ass, somebody else will bleed, and not me."

5. Carl Edwards — Edwards found trouble early at Daytona, becoming one of several cars involved in a lap 20 wreck started when Roush Fenway teammate Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. got loose. Edwards eventually finished 37th, 46 laps down.

"Tony Stewart was not happy with Stenhouse," Edwards said. "He called him an 'idiot.' Trust me, you don't want to be in Tony Stewart's doghouse. It's way too crowded in there."

6. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth took 20th at Daytona in a race won by Aric Almirola's No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports car. Kenseth, still winless on the year, is fifth in the points standings, 71 out of first.

"What a win for Almirola," Kenseth said. "It's always wide open when there's a restrictor plate race. And when they say 'anybody' can win, what they really mean is a 'nobody' can win."

7. Joey Logano — Logano finished 17th in a crash-filled Coke Zero 400 that left only 17 cars on the lead lap. He is now sixth in the points standings, 105 out of first.

"My teammate Brad Keselowski had the cut on his hand glued together," Logano said. "And I believe it's made him a better driver, because now he's even more skilled at operating a 'stick shift.'

"My car was leaving a trail of debris late in the race. As a result, I was black-flagged. That's similar to my dad being black-listed."

8. Kyle Busch — Busch finished 28th after being collected in lap 97's "Big One," which involved no less than 25 cars and left Busch's No. 18 Toyota upside down.

"Jeremy Mayfield would call that a 'roofie,'" Busch said, "or a 'downer.' Luckily, the tow truck was there quickly to turn me over. Mayfield would call that an 'upper.'

"It was certainly a wild ride, and reminded me of that fateful day in Iredell County, North Carolina back in May of 2011. In that case, however, it wasn't the 'Big One' that forced me into the grass on the side of the road, but a State Trooper."

9. Aric Almirola — Almirola captured the rain-shortened Coke Zero 400, placing the No. 43 car in winner's circle for the first time since 1999. The win came almost 30 years to the day of Richard Petty's 200th and final NASCAR victory.

"It was a great day for 'The King,'" Almirola said. "And Prince, too, because we're gonna party like it's 1999.

"I won $377,176 in prize money. I think I could win another weather-shortened race, or be a big-time player at the strip club, because with that kind of cash, you can really 'make it rain.'"

10. Kevin Harvick — Harvick suffered damage in the first of two "Big Ones" in the Coke Zero 400. He eventually finished 39th after completing just 46 laps.

"Haas Automation became an official sponsor of Ferrari's Formula 1 through the 2015 season," Harvick said. "Gene Haas is an astute business man, and the timing of this deal is perfect. Before forming a partnership with Ferrari's 'Prancing Horse,' he got into business with Tony Stewart's 'Ranting Donkey.'"

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