NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 34

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson completed his ascension to the top of the points with a second in Texas, his fourth-straight result of second or higher. Johnson followed race winner Tony Stewart across the line and now holds a 17-point lead over Matt Kenseth.

"Never has it felt so good to finish second to Stewart," says Johnson. "I'm going to follow the No. 20 car to the title, then thank my lucky stars that Tony didn't make the Chase."

2. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth suffered a litany of problems in Texas, including a poor qualifying effort, chronic bad handling, a pit row speeding penalty, and a spin. Still, he finished 12th, and trails Jimmie Johnson by only 17 points.

"But my relationship with Scott Riggs' team is on good terms," says Kenseth. "While I don't condone the actions of that crewman, I also don't condone the actions of Kevin Harvick. Not for wrecking Riggs, but for using his wife Delana to break his fall."

3. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt fought off the effects of the flu to pull out an improbable sixth in Texas to stay within striking distance of points leader Jimmie Johnson. Earnhardt is now third, 78 behind Johnson.

"It's one thing to have the flu," says Earnhardt, "but it's an entirely different beast when you have the flu and hit the wall. Although I think the wall knocked the fever out of me."

4. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin scored his 18th top 10 of the year with a 10th in the Dickies 500 that left him fourth in the points, 80 behind Johnson. The No. 11 team missed he setup, expecting sunny weather instead of the rain and overcast skies predicted by weather forecasters.

"Since when has a weather forecaster been right?" asks Hamlin. "We checked the Farmer's Almanac and it called for sunshine. It also advised me that the time is right to pick my cabbage."

5. Kevin Harvick — Harvick rebounded from his 31st in Atlanta to finish third in Texas, and improved his points standing to fifth, where he trails Jimmie Johnson by 105. With three laps to go, Harvick got under Scott Riggs, which sent Riggs spinning into the wall. After the race, a member of Riggs' team shoved Harvick, who fell into his wife Delana and a NASCAR official, knocking all three to the ground.

"If Riggs wants to send one of his henchmen to do his dirty work, that's fine," says Harvick. "I've got someone to do my dirty work for me, as well. It's called my car. Watch your backs, Riggs' team members."

6. Jeff Gordon — Gordon started 23rd and worked his way through the field, albeit with persistent handling difficulties, and eventually finished eighth. That improved his points position to sixth, but he is 157 out of first with virtually no chance of his fifth points title.

"It's not like I don't have some stakes in these final two races," says Gordon. "Don't forget, I own Jimmie Johnson's car. And I have no problem calling Jimmie's first championship my fifth."

7. Jeff Burton — Burton blew a tire and hit the wall on lap 89, and eventually finished 38th, 70 laps down. He fell two places in the standings and lost 100 points, and now is 184 out of first.

"Three weeks ago, I was first in the points," says Burton. "Since then, I've dropped six places and suffered almost as many tire problems."

8. Mark Martin — Bad luck for Martin started early in Texas. He suffered an unavoidable crash into Tony Raines' sliding car in Saturday's last practice session and was forced to go to a backup car on Sunday. Starting at the back of the field, Martin did well to move up to 22nd, one lap off the pace.

"I've had my share of crashes in the actual races," says Martin. "Now, I'm getting wrecked in practice? What's next? A drunken Paul Tracy rams my car as we're taking it out of the hauler?"

9. Kyle Busch — Busch picked up his best finish of the Chase, finishing fourth, one of three Hendrick cars in the top 10, and leading two laps in Texas. He improved two spots in the standings to eighth, 233 behind Jimmie Johnson.

"Three Hendrick guys in the top 10," says Busch, "and Brian Vickers on the pole. Vickers obviously didn't get that qualifying setup from one of us."

10. Kasey Kahne — Kahne challenged Stewart for the lead on a few occasions late in the race, but an engine failure on lap 327 ended his day. He finished 34th, and fell one place to last in the points, 290 out of first.

"Hey, I may be last in the points," says Kahne, "but you've got to consider me the favorite to win it all next year. Of course, everyone said the same thing about Carl Edwards last year."

Comments and Conversation

November 10, 2006

Bob Majors:

“If Riggs wants to send one of his henchmen to do his dirty work, that’s fine,” says Harvick. “I’ve got someone to do my dirty work for me as well. It’s called my car. Watch your backs, Riggs’ team members.”

What a childish comment from Harvick! Scott was in the infield medical center during this altercation.

November 10, 2006



Note the note at top: “Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.” Harvick may not have said this “on the record,” but I’m sure his comments without a camera or tape recorder present would have been similar, or worse.

Thanks for reading!

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