NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 21
August 6, 2014 by Jeffrey Boswell • Print Story •
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt used a no-tire pit stop to take the lead and subdued the challenge of Kevin Harvick down the stretch to win he GoBowling.Com 400 at Pocono. The victory completed Earnhardt's season sweep at the "Tricky Triangle" and was his third win of the year.
"That's the first season sweep at Pocono since Denny Hamlin's in 2006," Earnhardt said. "Normally, I would celebrate with a broom, but I can't. I developed an aversion to brooms when I discovered that Teresa Earnhardt rode them.
"The fans of Junior Nation will certainly party. I'm not sure they're that into bowling, though. They couldn't tell you anything about PBA, but they sure know a lot about PBR."
2. Jeff Gordon — Gordon led a race-high 63 laps at Pocono but fell victim to lack of track position and some untimely cautions, finishing sixth. He remains atop the Sprint Cup points standings with a 17-point lead over Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
"Junior's No. 88 car had the name 'Michael Baker' all over it," Gordon said. "That had to be a new experience for Earnhardt. It's not often people see the No. 88 car and have to ask, 'Who is that?'"
3. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski survived an unlucky day at Pocono, salvaging a 23rd-place finish, one lap down to the leaders. Keselowski damaged the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford with after contact with Kurt Busch on lap 2, then was an unwilling participant in the lap 117 "Big One."
"Thanks, Kurt Busch," Keselowski said. "Just like the last race at Pocono, I had a run-in with a 'piece of trash.'"
4. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson suffered two blown tires, the last of which sent him into the wall, ending his day at Pocono on lap 111. He finished 39th, 49 laps down.
"We've had our share of tires issues this season," Johnson said. "It's not a big deal to us. That's called 'under-inflating' the severity of an issue, just the opposite of what Goodyear thinks.
"We've finished 39th of worse in three of the last five races. But don't count us out once the Chase starts. Chad Knaus has a lot of things up his sleeve, including a sandbag of tricks."
5. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth was collected in a lap 117 pileup triggered when Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin got loose, causing Brian Vickers to check up and create mayhem behind him. Thirteen cars were involved in the accident, and Kenseth finished 38th.
"It was the GoBowling.com 400," Kenseth said, "and I'd like to pin the blame on Hamlin. But congratulations go to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He deserves to celebrate, not in Victory Lane, but in Victory Alley."
6. Joey Logano — Logano led 30 laps and posted a strong third-place finish at Pocono, earning his eighth top-five of the year. He is seventh in the points standings, 124 behind Jeff Gordon.
"Richard Petty was the grand marshal for the GoBowling.com 400," Logano said. "In the Poconos, they call that being the 'King of the Mountain.'
"I've always had a ton of respect for Petty. Now I've got even more after realizing he raced against Morgan Shepherd for over 20 years and lived to tell about it."
7. Carl Edwards — Edwards finished a disappointing 29th at Pocono as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. raced to the win. He is eighth in the points standings, 139 out of first.
"I'm going to blame this on a preoccupation with thoughts of where I'll be driving next year," Edwards said. "As was evident at Pocono, my mind was racing, but I wasn't."
8. Ryan Newman — Once again, Newman was solid for Richard Childress Racing, taking eighth in the GoBowling.com 400.
"It was an otherwise tough day for RCR," Newman said. "Austin Dillon finished 15th, while Paul Menard finished 33rd, under Tony Stewart's No. 14 after that big wreck on lap 117. I hear it's no fun looking up and seeing Stewart on top of you. But at least Tony was awake."
9. Kevin Harvick — Harvick chased Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for three laps after the final restart at Pocono, but couldn't get around the No. 88 car. Harvick settled for second, his fourth runner-up finish of the year.
"After a pit road speeding penalty and damage from the lap 117 wreck," Harvick said, "I was 'Happy' to be in that position."
10. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer finished fourth in the GoBowling.Com 400, boosting his Chase For the Cup chances with five races left until the playoffs. He stands ninth in the Sprint Cup points standings, 140 out of first.
"No team needs a win more than Michael Waltrip Racing," Bowyer said. "I think all we need is a lively pep talk from Michael. And I think that should work. Everybody knows Michael makes a great cheerleader."