Wednesday, October 18, 2017

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 31

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Martin Truex, Jr. — Truex crashed out at Talladega with 17 laps to go when he made contact with David Ragan, setting a chain reaction crash that victimized Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch.

"My win at Charlotte already puts me into the next round of the Chase," Truex said. "There's no pressure. So, at Kansas, you can expect my car to be all over the track, because I'll be the one running 'loose.'"

2. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski passed Ryan Newman on the final lap at Talladega to win the Alabama 500 and secure his spot in the Round of Eight of the Chase For the Cup.

"It was a wild day at Talladega," Keselowski said, "and I'm in a state of shock. Frankly, I'm stunned, that a Ford could win in a race with Toyotas in the field. And that, my friends, is the sound of 'sandbagging.'"

3. Kyle Larson — Larson survived a wreck-filled day at Talladega to post a 13th-place finish and solidify his odds of advancing to the next round of the Chase.

"There were three red flags on Sunday," Larson said. "It felt an awful lot like my car was being inspected."

4. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin finished sixth in the Alabama 500, posting the best finish by a Toyota driver. He is fifth in the Monster Energy Cup points standings.

"I'm in good position to advance to the next round of the Chase," Hamlin said. "Barring a disaster, or as we saw at Talladega, disasters, I should move on to the third round. Hopefully, the 40 professional drivers in the field at Kansas will show professionalism."

5. Kyle Busch — Busch finished 27th after his No. 18 Toyota was collected in a lap 171 crash triggered by contact between Martin Truex, Jr. and David Ragan.

"If the field of eight was set now," Busch said, "I'd be out, and Truex would have eliminated his biggest competitor was the championship. I'm not saying Truex's wreck was intentional; I'm just saying he was driving 'with a purpose.'"

6. Chase Elliott — Elliott started second at Talladega and finished 16th, six laps behind the leaders.

"Like many drivers," Elliott said, "I was an innocent victim of someone else's recklessness. Fortunately, there's a 20-point cushion between me in sixth and Kyle Busch in ninth. Of course, it's no fun hitting a wall at such speeds, but I couldn't ask for a 'SAFER barrier.'"

7. Kevin Harvick — Harvick's No. 4 Ford survived involvement in two big crashes to post a 20th at Talladega.

"Only 14 cars finished the race," Harvick said. "It takes NASCAR three races to pare the field down to 12 drivers. Talladega can do it in a single race."

8. Ryan Blaney — Blaney won the second stage and finished 18th at Talladega.

"That stage win is worth a point in the standings," Blaney said. "And every single point is vitally important in the NASCAR playoffs. And what better place to reiterate the importance of a 'Big One' than Talladega?"

9. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson finished 24th at Talladega.

"We were penalized for working on the car during a red flag," Johnson said. "Usually, when NASCAR tells Chad Knaus to stop altering the car, it's after the work is already done."

10. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth finished 14th in the Alabama 500, and is 10th in the points standings.

"I joked that my 2018 driving plans may involve a school bus," Kenseth said. "The last time I took someone to school, it was Joey Logano in Martinsville."

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