Wednesday, June 28, 2017

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 16

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Kyle Larson — Larson started from the pole, his fourth of the year, but struggled at Sonoma on his way to a 26th at the California road course.

"Much is said of the elevation changes on Sonoma's 2.52-mile road course," Larson said. "I would tend to agree, especially after starting on the pole and finishing 26th. Because apparently, it was all downhill."

2. Martin Truex, Jr. — Truex started third in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 and won the first stage before late engine failure ended his day at Sonoma. He finished 37th and dropped out of the top spot in the Monster Energy Cup points standings.

"I could tell something was wrong with the car," Truex said. "It just didn't sound right. Unlike Ryan Newman, I don't need a college degree in 'engine-ear-ing' to be able to detect a sour engine with my ears."

3. Kevin Harvick — Harvick took charge late at Sonoma to win the Toyota/Save Mart 350, taking his first win of 2017 and first road course win of his Cup career.

"I had a whopping nine second lead before the race ended under caution," Harvick said. "That's certainly not what NASCAR was hoping for. They wanted it 'closer;' instead, they got the 'Closer.'

And speaking of 'nine seconds,' I had about that many runner-up finishes last season."

4. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson finished 13th in the Toyota/Save Mart 350, and is seventh in the points standings, 176 behind Kyle Larson.

"Chad Knaus has his laptop stolen recently," Johnson said. "That laptop had his race notes for the race at Sonoma, and we needed those to maximize our performance. So, that made for a very 'hard drive' on Sunday."

5. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski finished third at Sonoma, posting his eighth top-five finish of the season. He is sixth in the points standings, 164 out of first.

"I'm being mentioned as the most likely replacement for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports," Keselowski said. "If Penske Racing wants to keep me, then they should pay me what I'm worth. If not, then I'll be sure to make the move to Hendrick with my belongings in a Penske moving truck."

6. Kyle Busch — Still in search of his first win this season, Busch finished fifth at Sonoma, joining Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, who finished fourth, in the top five.

"I'm certainly disappointed," Busch said. "I'm arguably the most talented driver in NASCAR, yet I don't have a single win this season. There are eleven drivers with wins this season, and I'm not one of them. So, where victories are concerned, my record, much like my complexion, pales in comparison."

7. Chase Elliott — Elliott posted his ninth top-10 of the year with an eighth at Sonoma. He is fifth in the Monster Energy Cup points standings, but has yet to capture a win this season.

"Alon Day became the first Israeli driver to start a race in NASCAR's highest level," Elliott said. "That's great to see. Now, all he needs is a beer sponsor. If there's not already a low-calorie beer named 'Israel Lite,' there needs to be."

8. Jamie McMurray — McMurray started second at Sonoma alongside Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kyle Larson and raced to a 10th-place finish in the Monster Energy Cup series first road course race of the season.

"If you've ever raced at Sonoma," McMurray said, "you understand the importance of monitoring your brakes. Brake wear is basically a common thread across all forms of racing. In fact, if you're a fan of Formula 1, you're are no doubt familiar with the impact of 'brake checking.'"

9. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin finished fourth in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 after a late charge at Sonoma.

"Former teammate Carl Edwards says he doesn't miss racing and has no plans to end his retirement," Hamlin said. "I think that's smart on Carl's part. I'm sure if he returned, he would end up retiring once again. Then we could call Carl the 'cousin twice removed.'"

10. Joey Logano — Logano finished 12th at Sonoma and is now tenth in the points standings.

"Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson were both born in California," Logano said. "So both the race winner and pole sitter were very motivated to do well in their home state. Well, the driver known as 'Sliced Bread' made a name for himself in the great state of Connecticut. You could say I was born and 'bread' there."

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