Wednesday, June 10, 2015

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 14

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jimmie Johnson — Fresh off a win at Dover, Johnson finished third in the Axalta 400 at Pocono, his ninth top-five of the year. He is third in the Sprint Cup points standings, 78 out of first.

"I blew a tire on lap 87," Johnson said, "but I was still able to pull out a third. I've got to hand it to my pit crew for getting me back out there quickly. It was a 'change' that even Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner's doctors would be proud of."

2. Kevin Harvick — Harvick couldn't catch Martin Truex, Jr. down the stretch at Pocono and settled for second, his 10th runner-up finish of the season. He leads the Sprint Cup points standings by 39 over Truex.

"Congratulations to Martin for his win in the 'Axalta 400," Harvick said. "Axalta's slogan may be 'we paint winners.' For ten races this season, my slogan has been 'We ain't winners.'"

3. Martin Truex, Jr. — Truex led 97 of 160 laps at Pocono and finally won for the first time this season, taking the Axalta 400.

"I feel like the monkey is off my back," Truex said. "That's also how I felt after leaving Michael Waltrip Racing."

4. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt started on row 10 at Pocono and brought home an 11th-place finish, as all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers finished in the top 14.

"Martin Truex's win was a popular one for everyone involved in NASCAR," Earnhardt said. "Even the good people of Junior Nation couldn't help but applaud. As usual, the clap was rampant amongst my fans."

5. Joey Logano — Logano fell a lap down early but strongly rebounded for a fourth-place finish, his seventh top-five finish of the year. He is fourth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 79 out of first.

"I have a cameo in the 'Sharknado 3' movie," Logano said. "'Cameo' means you show up once. They call me 'Sliced Bread,' and that makes my part in the movie the 'roll' of a lifetime."

6. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski day at Pocono soured when he got into the back of the No. 34 car of Brett Moffitt with 32 laps to go. Keselowski eventually finished 17th and is sixth in the points standings, 118 out of first.

"I was this close to avoiding that No. 34 car," Keselowski said. "It reminds me of a story I've read my newborn girl — 'Little Miss Moffitt.'"

7. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth topped all Joe Gibbs Racing drivers at Pocono, finishing sixth for his eighth top-10 of the year.

"They call Pocono 'The Tricky Triangle,'" Kenseth said. "And speaking of shapes, I'm known as the 'Shifty Square.'

8. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin, a four-time winner at Pocono, finished tenth in the Axalta 400, recording his sixth top-10 result of the year.

"As you may know," Hamlin said, "Axalta is known for its coatings. And they are a primary sponsor of Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet. That means they pay him to put their product on his car. And that's called a cover charge."

9. Jamie McMurray — McMurray finished seventh at Pocono, posting his sixth top-10 finish of the year.

"Ten different drivers have won races this year," McMurray said. "One of those is Martin Truex, Jr. He's qualified for the Chase For the Cup, and no one can take that away from him. But we'll see."

10. Kurt Busch — Busch started on the pole at Pocono, his third pole of the season, and finished fifth in the Axalta 400.

"What a race by Martin Truex, Jr.," Busch said. "He totally dominated the second half of the race. He really went in for the kill, but I'll stop short of calling him an assassin."

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