Wednesday, August 2, 2017

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 21

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Martin Truex, Jr. — Truex finished third at Pocono as Kyle Busch won from the pole. Truex leads the Monster Energy Cup points standings by 48 over Kyle Larson.

"Kyle was just unstoppable today," Truex said. "Somebody should tell Kyle 'Way to go,' but it won't be me or any member of my pit crew, especially two of my tire changers that are suspended. That's because Kyle's crew chief Adam Stevens had a confrontation with my pit crew at Indianapolis. While Kyle and I made fire, Adam and my crew made fireworks."

2. Kyle Busch — Busch won the pole for the Overton's 400 at Pocono and led 74 laps on his way to the win, snapping a 36-race winless streak and winning for the first time at Pocono.

"It feels great to do a burn out," Busch said, "as opposed to being 'burned out' of my car. Ironically, I've been 'spinning my wheels' all year."

3. Kevin Harvick — Harvick finished second at Pocono, posting his eighth top 5 of the year, and is now third in the points standings, 97 out of first.

"That makes four runner-up finishes in my career at Pocono," Harvick said. "If you think I'm disappointed about that, I 'second' that emotion. And trust me, I know disappointment. It permeates my household, in fact. Much of the disappointment stems from the fact that I'm known there as 'three-inch Kevin Harvick.'"

4. Kyle Larson — Larson lost his drive shaft early at Pocono, necessitating a lengthy trip to the garage before returning to claim a 33rd-place finish.

"What's worse than losing a drive shaft?" Larson said. "Losing a sponsor. Target will no longer sponsor the No. 42 car next year. They're moving sponsorship from racing to soccer. At least, that's their goal. It's seems the red on the red car has been red-carded."

5. Jimmie Johnson — Contact with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne sent Johnson into the wall on lap 57, ending his day at Pocono. Johnson eventually finished 35th.

"Kasey had a huge win the previous week at Indianapolis," Johnson said. "He apparently was still riding that wave of momentum when he slid up the track and got into me.

"But it was just a racing incident. And let me define 'racing incident' for you: it's when there's an accident that doesn't involve cars bursting into flames, a crew chief mouthing off with members of an opposing crew, and a race team unfairly disciplining just one of the involved parties."

6. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski took fifth in the Overton's 400, recording his series-best 11th top-five of the season.

"Penske Racing is adding a third car in 2018," Keselowski said, "and Ryan Blaney will be the driver. Ryan is a great guy, and one of the best things he has going for him is that his father is Dave Blaney, and not Tom Logano. Tom Logano is the Lavar Ball of NASCAR."

7. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin led 18 laps and finished fourth at Pocono, as Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch took the victory.

"Kyle Busch was the class of the field," Hamlin said. "That's saying something, because it's not often you can use the words 'class' and 'Kyle Busch' in a sentence. Now, using 'Kyle Busch' and a word that rhymes with class in the same sentence, that's another story altogether."

8. Jamie McMurray — McMurray started third at Pocono but finished a disappointing 26th.

"The No. 1 McDonald's Chevrolet was handicapped by transmission issues," McMurray said. "That caused a lot of smoke to enter the cockpit. It's doubly disappointing because at Pocono in June, I wrecked with Jimmie Johnson and my car burst into flames. As the saying goes, 'Where there's smoke, there was fire.'"

9. Chase Elliott — Eliott finished 10th at Pocono and remains winless on the season.

"I know I don't necessarily have to win to make the Chase For The Cup," Elliott said, "but it would sure make things easier. But sometimes just the mere pressure of knowing you need a victory can hinder, impede, and hamper you from doing just that. A lot of drivers, Joey Logano included, call that an 'encumbered win.'"

10. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer scored a solid day at Pocono, winning Stage 2 on his way to a sixth-place finish. He is 10th in the Monster Energy Cup points standings.

"Thirteen different drivers have posted victories this year," Bowyer said. "That means there are only three spots in the Chase For the Cup up for grabs. People who know me understand that I'm willing to go to great lengths to secure one of those spots, for me or for a teammate."

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