NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 27

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Kevin Harvick — Harvick got the jump on the rest of the Chase field in a hurry, winning the poll for the Sylvania 300 then dominating on race day, leading 196 of 300 laps on the way to his fourth win of the year. He takes over first in the points, leading Denny Hamlin by 35.

"What better way to start the Chase than with a win," says Harvick, "although the supposed cheating accusations proposed by that Speed Channel reporter are totally ludicrous. I don't know who that reporter is, but he just moved to the top of my enemy list, right past Michael Waltrip."

2. Jeff Gordon — Gordon's return to the Chase was successful, as he finished third in New Hampshire and jumped five place in the points to fourth, where he is 50 behind Harvick. Gordon and teammate Brian Vickers ran well, while teammates Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch faltered at the worst time.

"If you can't run with the big dogs, stay off the porch," says Gordon. "At least, that's what the t-shirt says. As far as my teammates are concerned, there's still hope in the Chase. From that far behind, it truly is a 'Chase' for them."

3. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth struggled with handling and braking issues Sunday in Loudon, but still managed a workmanlike tenth to slavage a day that was clearly Kevin Harvick's. Kenseth fell out of the points lead, but is only 41 behind Harvick.

"I may have lost the points lead," says Kenseth, "but I gained a Guinness World Record by nailing Kelly Ripa with 17 pies in one minute to the face on Live With Regis and Kelly. Don't ask me why NASCAR drivers were on the show to throw pies at the hostess. Is that supposed to make more people watch NASCAR, or fewer people watch Live With Regis and Kelly?"

4. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin shows no signs of letting the pressure of the Chase get to him. He ran strong in Loudon, finishing fourth to advance two spots in the points. He's now in second, trailing Harvick by 35 points.

"Speaking of pie to the face," says Hamlin, "I just got one from Kevin Harvick. For what, I don't know. But after that move he made in the race that almost wrecked me, he'll get his pie for dessert right after I feed him the main course, a knuckle sandwich."

5. Jeff Burton — Burton stayed close in the hunt for the Cup, finishing seventh in Loudon to give Richard Childress Racing two cars in the top 10. Burton moved up three spots to fifth in the points, and trails teammate Kevin Harvick by 64 points.

"I guess it's every man for himself right now," says Burton. "Even my teammate almost wrecked me trying to squeeze into a space way too small. You know, like Jimmy Spencer trying to get into a driver's suit."

6. Mark Martin — Martin finished 11th in Loudon, and moved up a spot in the points to sixth, where he is 75 points out of first.

"Let me say it for you," Martin comments. "It was a 'solid' performance. I had a 'solid' drive. What are the chances that I'll announce my retirement, then change my mind? Solid."

7. Kasey Kahne — Kahne battled a loose race car all day, falling two laps down at one point, and overcame a blocked pit stall late in the race to squeeze a 16th-place finish out of his day in New Hampshire.

"I squeezed hard," says Kahne. "I've been doing a lot of squeezing lately. I barely squeezed into the Chase. And it looks like I'll have to do a lot more squeezing. I'm 110 points out of first, and only 36 ahead of Kyle Busch in 10th. Nobody's giving him a chance in the Chase, so what does that say about my chances?"

8. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson's luck went from bad to worse on Sunday. He started seventh, but a tight-handling car and a possible dropped cylinder left him in the back of the pack. Then, on lap 89, he was spun into the wall in a wreck involving Greg Biffle and Sterling Marlin. A trip to the garage ensued, and he returned to finish the race in 39th, 77 laps down.

"Tony Stewart may have a monkey named ‘Mojo,'" says Johnson, "but I've got an even bigger monkey. He doesn't have a name, lives on my back, and has something to do with me not having won a Cup championship."

9. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt finished 13th in Loudon, which was exactly where he started. For his effort, he dropped one spot in the points to seventh, and is 81 points out of first.

"We got a little tight at the end," says Earnhardt, "and all we could do was watch the others go by. It's a helpless feeling knowing that Dave Blaney has outdone us in two straight races."

10. Kyle Busch — Busch, the winner at Loudon in July, was out of contention early. A wreck on lap three with Jeff Green was followed by a mix-up with Clint Bowyer on lap 202. Busch finished in 38th, and now is in last in the points, 146 from the top.

"Here's my idea for an exiting race in Dover," says Busch. "I'd like for the other 33 drivers not in the Chase to take out the top nine in the points, preferably causing irreparable damage. But make it all look accidental. I'd greatly appreciate it."

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