Thursday, July 31, 2014

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 20

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jeff Gordon — Gordon blew past Kasey Kahne on the final restart with 17 laps to go and cruised to his record fifth Brickyard 400 win. It was his second win of the season and strengthened his lead in the Sprint Cup points standings.

"Five times!" Gordon said. "That's amazing! I'm not just a brick kisser; I'm a brick layer.

"I'd won four of the first 11 Brickyards. The last came in 2004. My last Sprint Cup title came in 2001. I was starting to worry that I'd be stuck on '4' forever. I couldn't help but think, 'If the third time is the charm, the fourth must be the limit.'"

2. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt came home ninth at Indianapolis as all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers finished in the top 14. Earnhardt is second in the Sprint Cup points standings, 24 behind Jeff Gordon.

"Hendrick dominance was on full display," Earnhardt said. "Gordon 'kissed the bricks' with his restart; Kasey Kahne 'laid a brick' with his."

3. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski posted a 12th at Indianapolis, a disappointing run considering his qualifying effort of third. He holds the third spot in the Sprint Cup points standings, 51 behind Jeff Gordon.

"I'm third is the Sprint Cup points standings with 666," Keselowski said. "I'm told that's the 'number of the beast.' But rest assured, Christians, my cars don't have horns."

4. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson finished 14th at Indianapolis as Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon captured the win. Johnson is fifth in the points standings, 89 behind Gordon.

"The mayor of Indianapolis declared July 27th 'Jeff Gordon Day,'" Johnson said. "That's an impressive accomplishment, but I can top it. I can't say I've had any days named after me, but I have had seasons named after me: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2013."

5. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth finished third in the Brickyard 400 on a strong day for Joe Gibbs Racing, as Joe Gibbs Racing drivers came home 2-3-4.

"It was an awesome day for JGR," Kenseth said. "And I say, 'Why mess up a good thing?' Do we really need Carl Edwards? The last thing this 'stable' needs is a jackass.

"Carl is being replaced at Roush-Fenway by Trevor Bayne. I guess Jack Roush finally got that elusive Daytona 500 win."

6. Kyle Busch — Busch finished second at Indianapolis, his second straight runner-up finish. Joe Gibbs Racing cars all placed in the top five, with Denny Hamlin taking third and Matt Kenseth fourth.

"Good things come in two's," Busch said. "At least, that's what 'they' say; 'they' being everyone except the parents of Kurt and I.

"I wasn't on the JGR airplane that collided at the Concord, North Carolina airport. I guess runways can be like race teams: overcrowded."

7. Carl Edwards — Edwards finished 15th in the Brickyard 400 on a day dominated by Jeff Gordon. Edwards is eighth in the points standings, 114 out of first.

"Roush-Fenway Racing finally confirmed that I'm leaving the organization," Edwards said. "Gordon may be kissing them, but I'm hitting the bricks.

"The magnitude of my departure finally hit me on my last pit stop. As I was leaving the pits, I thought to myself, 'Leaving is the pits.'"

8. Joey Logano — Logano finished fifth at Indianapolis to lead the way for Penske Racing. He is ninth in the points standings, 126 behind Jeff Gordon.

"Roger Penske is winless in the Brickyard 400," Logano said. "He even brought Juan Montoya here to try for the win. It was a one shot deal, but we're going to send Montoya on his way in style, with a few drinks. In honor of Montoya's one-shot deal, we're going to celebrate with a two-shot deal: one for us, and 'Juan for the road.'"

9. Ryan Newman — Newman finished 11th at Indianapolis and remained seventh in the Sprint Cup points standings.

"I'm Richard Childress Racing's best hope for a spot in the Chase," Newman said. "Talk about a no-win situation."

10. Kevin Harvick — Harvick won the pole at Indianapolis and led 12 early laps on his way to an 8th-place finish.

"Did you hear?" Harvick said. "Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing planes collided on the runway at Concord Regional Airport. It looks like the *&#$ has hit the propeller. Apparently, JGR's plane hit the SHR plane, which was parked. In other news, Carl Edwards may not be coming to JGR."

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