Wednesday, March 29, 2017

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 5

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Kyle Larson — Larson survived four late restarts and pulled away for the win at Fontana, finally snatching a win after three consecutive runner-up finished.

"It's frustrating building a huge lead," Larson said, "only to have it wiped out by a caution flag. Restarts are dangerous for a race leader, especially when there are four restarts. It's times like those when it's imperative to proceed with caution."

2. Martin Truex, Jr. — Truex finished fourth in the Auto Club 400, posting his second top-five finish of the year.

"I regret not getting fresh tires on the final pit stop," Truex said. "It's not like we didn't have the tires — we start with 11 sets. And I needed fresh tires to have any chance of catching Kyle Larson. So, I urged my crew chief to 'burn rubber' so I could 'burn rubber.'"

3. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski overcame damage in an early spin to finish second at Fontana.

"Kyle Larson was dominant," Keselowski said. "He could pass cars at will and made it all look so easy. It was like it was 'Target practice.'"

4. Chase Elliott — Elliott led the Hendrick Motorsports charge at Fontana, finishing 10th. He is second in the points standings, 26 behind Kyle Larson.

"I hear Danica Patrick was critical of NASCAR's reasoning for fining drivers," Elliott said. "I tend to agree with her. I would say to NASCAR officials sitting smugly in their rules trailer, 'You can't have it both ways.' But NASCAR's rulings are so subjective, they need to be told, 'You can't have it three ways, or four ways.' And let's be honest, the only people having 'three ways' and 'four ways' in trailers are Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fans."

5. Joey Logano — Logano finished fifth in the Auto Club 400 at Fontana, recording his second top-five of the season.

"Kyle Busch and I raced each other cleanly all weekend at Fontana," Logano said. "Thank goodness, because I don't want any more of Kyle's punches coming my way. As these three boring races out West can attest, one 'West Coast swing' is enough."

6. Kevin Harvick — Harvick came home 13th at Fontana and is now eighth in the points standings, 87 out of first.

"Frankly," Harvick said, "I've had enough of the West Coast and its smog. I'm ready to head back East, where we race at classic NASCAR tracks like Martinsville. As you know, aerodynamics don't play much of a role on a half-mile track. So, those West Coast locations can keep their 'dirty air.'"

7. Kyle Busch — Busch finished eighth at Fontana, posting his second top-10 finish of the year.

"I didn't have one single run-in with Joey Logano," Busch said. "And that's exactly how I'd like it, because I prefer to have 'no contact' with him."

8. Jamie McMurray — McMurray finished sixth at Fontana.

"That was a big win for Kyle Larson," McMurray said. "But not as big as the oversized novelty pair of sunglasses he was wearing after the race. Kyle's already a diminutive little fellow; with those giant shades on, I'd say he's the second coming of 'Slim Shady.'"

9. Ryan Blaney — Blaney finished ninth in the Auto Club 400 and is now sixth in the Monster Energy Cup points standings, 69 out of first.

"Kyle Larson was in a minor car accident after leaving Auto Club Speedway after the race," Blaney said. "Luckily, Kyle walked away without a scratch, which isn't that big of a surprise, because he was untouchable all day."

10. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer finished third at Fontana, posting his first top-five result since the Bristol Night Race in 2015.

"I'm driving the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing car made famous by Tony Stewart," Bowyer said. "Tony was known as much for his temper as he was for his driving skill, which led to the coining of the phrase, 'Where there's Smoke, there's ire.'"

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