Wednesday, September 13, 2017

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 26

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Martin Truex, Jr. — Truex won Stage 2 at Richmond was on his way to his fifth win of the year before a late caution flipped his fate. Kyle Larson beat Truex out of the pits and pulled away on the restart, while Truex tangled with Denny Hamlin and crashed. Truex finished 20th.

"Of course I'm disappointed," Truex said, "but I'll have a 20-point lead over Kyle Larson once the Chase starts at Chicagoland. So I like where I'm sitting, mostly because of the 'cushion' I'm sitting on."

2. Kyle Larson — Larson beat Martin Truex, Jr. out of the pits on the final caution and jumped ahead on the restart, easily claiming the Federated Auto Parts 400, his fourth win of the season.

"I'd like to thank my pit crew for their fast work," Larson said. "But mostly I'd like to thank Derrick Cope for causing that final caution. I should invite him to Victory Lane, but I doubt he remembers how to get there."

3. Kyle Busch — Busch took the first stage at Richmond and came home with a ninth-place finish.

"Denny Hamlin got busted for using illegal suspensions at Darlington," Busch said. "Not just his Monster Energy Cup car, but his Xfinity Series car, as well. Denny was stunned, but he had no choice but to 'absorb the shock' of the ramifications."

4. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin finished fifth at Richmond as the regular season came to a close.

"I had my win at Darlington encumbered because of illegal suspension," Hamlin said. "That means I get to keep the trophy, but I'm stripped of the bonus points. Plus, I have to drive with a vanity license plate that reads 'NCUMBRD.'"

5. Kevin Harvick — Harvick finished 15th at Richmond, and will start the Chase For the Cup in sixth, 38 points behind Martin Truex, Jr.

"Hey," Harvick said, "what's with an ambulance on the track at Richmond? I know NASCAR ratings are hurting, but is this their way of 'reviving' the sport?"

6. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson finished eighth at Richmond, posting his seventh top-10 of the year.

"I'll start the Chase For the Cup in fifth," Johnson said. "I'm not feeling any pressure. I've won seven Cup championships, so I don't plan on changing anything about my preparation, except maybe adding a cheat sheet inside the cockpit that explains how to advance in the Chase."

7. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski led 9 laps and finished 11th at Richmond.

"There really should be two Penske Racing drivers in the Chase For the Cup," Keselowski said. "But, upon further inspection, I realize that Joey Logano won't be part of the Chase."

8. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth ran into the back of Clint Bowyer with 143 laps remaining after an ambulance inexplicably blocked the entrance to pit road. Kenseth eventually finished 38th, but still qualified for the Chase.

"Kudos to that ambulance driver," Kenseth said, "for arriving before the accident even happened."

9. Jamie McMurray — McMurray finished 14th and qualified for the Chase For the Cup, where he will start 16th, 50 points behind Martin Truex, Jr.

"I'm a serious long shot to win the Monster Energy Cup championship," McMurray said. "A 100 to 1 long shot to be exact. That means you can bet $1 on me, and if I win, you would win $100. A safer bet, however, would be to take that $1 and spend it on an item from McDonald's Dollar Menu. Consider my sponsor obligations fulfilled."

10. Chase Elliott — Elliott finished 10th at Richmond, posting his 14th top-10 of the season.

"The race in Richmond was called the 'Federated Auto Parts 400,'" Elliott said. "Let's just be glad it wasn't called the 'Con-Federated Auto Parts 400."

Contents copyright © Sports Central 1998-2017