NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 9

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jeff Gordon: — Gordon dominated at Talladega, winning the Aaron's 499 pole, leading the most laps, and winning under caution after a hectic final 10 laps. Laying back for a final charge, Gordon grouped with Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart for the push to the front, then passed Jamie McMurray on lap 186. As was the case in Phoenix, Gordon and the No. 24 Dupont Chevy were pelted with beer cans, mostly by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fan, who were upset 1) that Gordon's 77th career win put him one up on Dale, Sr., or 2) that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. didn't win the race.

"Or maybe there was a sudden outbreak of skanky Budweiser," says Gordon, who happens to be a strong advocate of aluminum recycling. "Shouldn't those beer-throwing fans have been tossing the cans at Sterling Marlin's Waste Management-sponsored car? Heck, maybe they were upset that I took a victory lap while waving the yellow flag. Anyway, I think Tony Stewart is right — racing is a lot like wrestling. Turn on wrestling and you're quite apt to see beer cans flying."

2. Jimmie Johnson: — Johnson tucked in behind Gordon just before a series of wrecks brought out the race's final caution, ending his chance to battle for the win. The No. 48 Hendrick machine was lucky to be at the front; Johnson was involved in two incidents that led to wrecks, one involving teammate Casey Mears.

"Sorry about that, Casey," says Johnson. "I missed your signal indicating that you were pitting. My bad. Keep in mind that hand signals work great when you're on a bicycle, but not when you're doing 200 miles per hour in a finely-tuned automobile. And keep in mind that I'm the defending Nextel Cup champion, and you're the new kid, so the only hand signal I acknowledge from you is the 'thumbs-up' you give me when you're done polishing my trophy."

3. Matt Kenseth: — Kenseth hovered near the front for much of the race, even leading three laps early, but was shuffled back in the unpredictable last laps. He eventually finished 14th, only his third result out of the top 10 this year, and held on to third in the points, 229 behind Jeff Gordon.

"What has this sport become when we're talking more about wrestling and beer than Jeff Gordon passing the great Dale Earnhardt in career wins?" asks a perturbed Kenseth. "I'll tell you what it's become: a lot more interesting. Tony Stewart, keep talking. Earnhardt fans, keep tossing those cans. Take it from me. I know boring, and today's NASCAR is not boring."

4. Jeff Burton: — Burton was an unfortunate victim in the fracas that started when Jimmie Johnson spun a pitting Casey Mears. Burton's No. 31 Cingular Chevrolet slammed into Joe Nemechek, severely damaging Burton's car. After repairs, he returned to the track and finished 34th, which left him 203 points behind Jeff Gordon. Burton started the race trailing by only 74.

"What's up with Hendrick Motorsports?" asks Burton. "They can win nearly every race, but they can't pass along a simple communication from one team to another? How do they relay information? Via radio, or with two tin cans and a length of string?"

5. Denny Hamlin: — Hamlin led 48 laps, second only to Jeff Gordon's 71, but a late caution smothered any chance for the win. After leading as late as lap 182, the Virginia native faded to 21st, but held on to fifth in the Cup standings, 332 out of first.

"First, let me assure you," explains Hamlin, "that although I am a native of the state of Virginia, I am in no way related to Michael Vick, nor do I condone the mistreatment of dogs, although having them work out on treadmills sounds kind of cool. I'd really like to see a pit bull working the speed bag, too. Anyway, I can't be disappointed with the outcome, and I'm sure my sponsor, FedEx, feels the same, especially when the car sponsored by their competitor, UPS, was seen sputtering around the track with Dale Jarrett behind the wheel. Maybe they should race the truck."

6. Jamie McMurray: — McMurray was leading on lap 186 when David Reutimann's engine blew, but before the caution flag flew, McMurray was passed by Jeff Gordon for the lead. McMurray still finished fifth, and jumped five place in the points. He is now in seventh, 462 out of the lead. McMurray was initially fingered by Tony Stewart as the guilty party in the last-lap wreck that wiped out the No. 20. Replays indicated that David Gilliland, in the No. 38 car, bumped McMurray into Stewart.

"Whew! Thank goodness I was vindicated by instant replay," says a relieved McMurray. "It looked like Stewart was challenging me to a 'Tony Stewart Street Fight,' in which combat is strictly limited to words. If he wants to take it to the squared circle, I'm ready. I've got the perfect finishing move, a version of the traditional piledriver. I call it the 'Crown Royal.'"

7. Kurt Busch: — Busch scored his best finish of the year with a third in the Aaron's 499, and along with teammate Ryan Newman, gave Penske Racing two cars in the top 10. Busch fared better than little brother Kyle, who wrecked in spectacular fashion in Saturday's Busch race, then was caught up in lap 130's mini-Big One in Sunday's race.

"Obviously, I didn't learn to drive from my brother," says Kurt. "Wow! What a crash in Saturday's Busch race. And speaking of the Busch Series, it looks like Kentucky Fried Chicken is the front-runner to win sponsorship of the series. I think that's great. In fact, it's finger-lickin' good. The Nextel champion may win the 'Cup,' but the new KFC champion will be honored with the 'Bucket.' I think Colonel Harland Sanders, were he alive, would be imminently proud about the union of chicken and race cars."

8. Tony Stewart: — Stewart began his Talladega weekend in the principal's office, face to face with NASCAR's new "Intimidator," Mike "Giv 'em" Helton, who gave Stewart a 9,000 rpm reaming in response to refusing to talk to the media after the Phoenix race, as well as comparing NASCAR to professional wrestling on his Sirius satellite radio show. Suffice it to say the Joe Gibbs Racing driver emerged with a limp. Stewart was then edged at the stripe by Bobby Labonte in the Busch race, and was punted from the top 10 on Sunday by a last-lap wreck.

"I guess I've learned my lesson," says Stewart with a sly grin. "I'll never criticize again. Incidentally, I've just removed the word 'again' from my vocabulary. Seriously though, NASCAR is not the least bit like professional wrestling. Helton was adamant that I never make that comparison again. If I do, he's threatened to deny me title shots, shave my head, and/or suspend me high above the track in a cage. Somewhere, Vince McMahon is cackling wildly."

9. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: — Earnhardt made a charge late in the Aaron's 499, drawing raucous cheers from the mostly pro-Earnhardt crowd. Ultimately, though, he didn't have the horsepower to stay in the front, but still finished a solid seventh. Earnhardt Nation's public enemy No. 1, Jeff Gordon, won the race, and again was pelted by beer cans from the crowd.

"Again, I plead to all my fans," says Earnhardt, "don't throw beer cans on the track. It's dangerous, immature, and a waste of good beer. To all my fans, here's a motto to live by: 'Don't throw beer cans, throw 'em back.' That means drink them. And I see some of you took me literally when I said throw toilet paper instead of cans. First of all, what are you people doing with toilet paper in the stands? Please don't answer that question."

10. Kevin Harvick: — After a miserable qualifying effort, Harvick started 41st and quickly found his way to the front and remained there, the only Richard Childress car not victimized by a wreck. He finished sixth and jumped back into the top 10 in points, where he is ninth, 469 out of first.

"I'm just happy that Shell is my sponsor and not Dale, Jr.'s," says Harvick. "Else instead of beer cans being tossed at Jeff Gordon, he could be facing a barrage of Molotov cocktails. I hear toilet paper makes a great fuse."

Comments and Conversation

May 4, 2007


If the quotes in this story are fictional, then why quote them at all?

May 4, 2007


Damn. That’s deep. Here’s why I did it: so whiners like you would have a reason to make stupid comments.

Thanks for reading, chief.

Leave a Comment

Featured Site