NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 33

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth was edged for third-place in Atlanta by good buddy Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who nipped the No. 17 Roush car at the line for the spot. Kenseth remained the points leader, and now holds a slim 26-point lead over Jimmie Johnson.

"I know the No. 48 car is climbing the standings much faster than Tony Stewart climbs a fence," says Kenseth. "Good gosh, I think NBC had to break for two commercials while Tony climbed that thing."

2. Jimmie Johnson — After being down 165 points early in the Chase, Johnson has recovered, and then some, with his third-straight result in the top two. He finished second to Tony Stewart in Atlanta and moved to within 26 points of Matt Kenseth for the points lead.

"Well, it looks like that restraining order against Brian Vickers has paid off," says Johnson.

3. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin finished a solid eighth in Atlanta and advanced one place in the standings to third, but lost ground to Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson, who both bettered Hamlin's Atlanta result. Hamlin's teammate, Tony Stewart, won the race ahead of Johnson.

"Hey, I'm just as sick as the fence climbing as everyone else," says Hamlin. "You know they'll be selling models of Tony climbing a fence on QVC. And idiots will buy it."

4. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt finished third in Atlanta after leading 95 laps, and was passed on the final restart after staying out while Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson pitted. Earnhardt was soon passed by those two, and fought off Matt Kenseth for third down the wire.

"Tony and Jimmie snookered me," says Earnhardt. "Just like Robbie Gordon snookered race officials into flying a caution by tossing out his roll bar cover."

5. Jeff Burton — Burton's bad luck continued as a flat tire forced him to make a green flag pit stop, which cost him a lap. He eventually finished two down, and came home in 13th. Burton maintained fourth in the points, but lost 36 points to leader Matt Kenseth.

"As soon as I hit the top of the points standings," says Burton, "I've taken a nose dive. And it doesn't help that as I was almost about to make up a lap, Robby Gordon tosses out his roll bar pad to create a caution. Honestly, does anyone believe Gordon when he says he didn't do it?"

6. Jeff Gordon — Gordon led 44 laps in Atlanta, but after slowing dramatically due to a flat tire, was rammed from behind by Jamie McMurray, who lost sight of Gordon in the setting sun. After several pit stops to repair damage on the No. 24 Nicorette Chevrolet, Gordon worked his way back to a sixth place finish.

"Don't ask me why I have Nicorette on my car," says Gordon. "Is someone going to decide to stop smoking while watching a NASCAR race? If they do, then they're not a real NASCAR fan."

7. Kevin Harvick — Harvick took the biggest tumble of all Chase competitors, falling four places to sixth with a 31st in the Bass Pro Shops 500. Harvick was plagued all day with handling problems, a may forever second-guess his decision to forego Happy Hour to travel to Memphis and compete in the Busch Series race, although he had already clinched the title.

"It was a tough decision to make," says Harvick. "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark was in Memphis to give the 'start your engines' command. When in doubt, I always go where the cleavage is."

8. Mark Martin — Martin was involved in a multi-car crash started when Kenny Wallace came down on Jeff Green. In his effort to avoid them, Martin slammed into Sterling Marlin. Martin finished 36th, and is now 201 points behind Matt Kenseth in the points.

"I'd like to blame a rookie for the accident," says Martin, "but this is clearly a case of veteran-on-veteran crime."

9. Kasey Kahne — Kahne failed to heed the warning of his spotter, and drifted high into David Stremme, causing a wreck that ruined Stremme's day and eventually led to Kahne's 38th-place finish. Kahne fell one place in the points, and now sits in ninth, 210 out of first.

"That's totally my mistake," says Kahne. "I could have sworn I saw my spotter sitting up there with a seeing-eye dog. I guess I was wrong."

10. Kyle Busch — Busch wrecked only four laps into the Bass Pro Shops 500, and unlike other Chase competitors who have suffered crashes, he had no help. He eventually finished 27th and now is dead last in the Chase, 249 out of first.

"I just got high and into the marbles," says Busch. "Now, that doesn't necessarily mean I need to be drug-tested."

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