Wednesday, August 27, 2014
NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 24
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Jeff Gordon — Gordon started second at Bristol but encountered handling issues that left him mid-pack for much of the race. He finished 16th, one lap down, and leads the Sprint Cup points standings by 27 over Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
"We're disappointed for sure," Gordon said. "But on the bright side, we've procured sponsorship from 3M, which was previously in a 10-year relationship with Greg Biffle. It was a mutually beneficial relationship for the Biff and 3M, and that's good. Take it from me, not all 10-year relationships end on good terms."
2. Joey Logano — Logano zipped past Matt Kenseth with 44 laps to go and held off Brad Keselowski to win the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol. It was Logano's third win of the year and solidified his status as a true Cup contender.
"Hey," Logano said, "I don't mind being called 'the man to beat.' Mostly because it's the only time I'm called a 'man.'"
3. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt hit Denny Hamlin's No. 11 car, which was spun by Kevin Harvick, and suffered serious damage that sent him to the garage. He finished 39th.
"Hamlin's car just ripped the left side of my car off," Earnhardt said. "I'll quote a Michael Waltrip Racing driver and say 'a Toyota ruined my day.'
"Hamlin may want revenge on Harvick, but I don't. Those who know me well know I'm a good-natured guy just looking for a good time. So you could say both Denny and I have a reason to 'Get Happy.'"
4. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski finished second to Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano in the Irwin Tools Night Race, as the Penske stable swept all three races as Bristol. Keselowski won the Craftsman Trucks race, while Ryan Blaney took the Nationwide victory.
"I think this weekend proves that Penske Racing is the best team in NASCAR," Keselowski said. "And that's not just a 'sweeping' generalization."
5. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson overcame two early pit road speeding penalties and posted a solid fourth, his seventh top-5 result of the year. He is fifth in the points standings, 119 out of first.
"I was back in the familiar blue Lowe's paint scheme at Bristol," Johnson said. "I just feel faster in that paint scheme. Unfortunately, the only thing we 'blue' by at Bristol were the pit road timers."
6. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth held the lead late at Bristol, but succumbed to the charges of Joey Logano, who passed Kenseth with 44 laps remaining. Kenseth settled for third, his ninth top-five of the year.
"I couldn't keep him away," Kenseth said. "By 'him,' I'm not referring to Logano, but Carl Edwards. He'll be joining Joe Gibbs Racing next year. I guess I'll welcome him with open arms. I assume he'll welcome me with a closed fist."
7. Carl Edwards — Edwards took seventh at Bristol as all three Roush Fenway drivers posted top-10 finishes, with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. leading the way with a sixth.
"I'm off to Joe Gibbs Racing at season's end," Edwards said. "I'll be in the No. 19 Toyota. Starting with a new team is never easy, but I'm getting a raise, of course. As they say, 'Change is good.' As I say, 'more change is better.'"
"And speaking of 'throws,' Hamlin's was nothing compared to the 'pitch' Joe Gibbs Racing gave me."
8. Ryan Newman — Newman finished 13th at Bristol, and is 14th in the Sprint Cup points standings with two races before the Chase.
"I wouldn't think of throwing my HANS device at another driver," Newman said. "However, I'd certainly throw a hands device at another driver. It's called a 'fist.' Just ask Juan Montoya."
9. Kevin Harvick — Harvick won the pole at Bristol and led 75 laps on his way to an 11th-place finish. Harvick faced the wrath of Denny Hamlin after wrecking the No. 11 car.
"Hamlin threw his HANS device at me," Harvick said. "I guess that means I'll 'catch hell.' Ironically, Hamlin showed 'restraint.' I'm not sure what Denny threw harder — his HANS device, or a tantrum."
10. Kurt Busch — Busch recorded his sixth top-five result of the year with a fifth at Bristol. With one victory this year, Busch has already locked up his spot in the Chase.
"Tempers were flaring at Bristol," Busch said. "Denny Hamlin flung his HANS device at Kevin Harvick. In case you're wondering, the HANS device is a head and neck restraint system. Personally, I've tested several head and neck restraints, and the HANS is by far my favorite. My least favorite is a Tony Stewart headlock."