NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 15

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jeff Gordon — Despite race-long handling issues, Gordon still produced his 13th top-10 finish of the year with a ninth in the Citizens Bank 400 in Michigan. Gordon solidified his lead in the points to 264 over Denny Hamlin, and will head to Sonoma confident in the knowledge that his points lead is safe, and Mark Martin is set to drive the No. 24 should Gordon miss a race due to the upcoming birth of his daughter.

"It's an exciting yet scary time for me," says Gordon. "Kind of like riding shotgun with a Busch brother down a one way street, the wrong way. Anyway, all this talk of labor and contractions has me longing for a Major League Baseball strike. And I appreciate everyone's suggestions on what to name our baby girl. I like the name 'Sedan de Ville Gordon,' but my obligations to Chevrolet prevent me from naming her that. So, I'm left with either 'Monte Carlo Gordon' or 'Camaro Gordon.'"

2. Jimmie Johnson — Running third with seven laps left at Michigan, Johnson saw his hopes of a ninth top-five finish turn to fumes when he ran out of gas. The resulting pit stop for a splash of fuel dropped him back, and he finished 19th, one lap down, but moved up to third in the points, where he is 337 out of first.

"I don't know who's responsible for calculating my fuel mileage," says Johnson, "but whomever it is, they'll be walking the last 14 miles home tonight. Last time I checked, you can't coast the last seven laps to finish a race."

3. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin finished 14th on the two-mile oval in Brooklyn, Michigan, his first result out of the top 10 in four races. Hamlin was the middle man in a bittersweet day for Joe Gibbs drivers, as Tony Stewart started 41st and finished third, and J.J. Yeley started on the pole, but finished 28th.

"Once again, miscues on pit lane cost us," says a disappointed Hamlin. "It's time for drastic measures. Since no one on my crew seems to know how to correctly handle a tire iron, I'm left with no other alternative but to hire the guy who nailed figure skater Nancy Kerrigan in the knee. Not as a member of my crew, but to whack whomever makes a mistake during a pit stop."

4. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth's streak of completing every lap this season ended at Michigan International Speedway on lap 76, when he was sucked in to a multi-car crash. He completed only 78 laps, and finished 42nd, which dropped him two places in the points to fourth.

"Well, I did finish ahead of NASCAR's only South American, Juan Pablo Montoya," says Kenseth, "who, unlike his fellow South American, golfer Angel Cabrera, has never started on his second pack of cigarettes before making the turn at No. 10. Anyway, what's the big deal about a professional golfer smoking while on the course? Bermuda grass isn't flammable, is it? Is a smoking professional golfer a bad role model for our youth? Come on, look at John Daly. He's a smoking professional golfer, right? He turned out okay. Well, that is if you take away the alcohol, domestic issues, and knife wounds to his face."

5. Carl Edwards — Since winning four times in 2005, Edwards had gone winless in the Nextel Cup series, but his win Sunday in Michigan changed that. Edwards led 63 laps and held off Martin Truex, Jr. for the win, then did his trademark back flip. Edwards then completed the celebration by trimming the beard of Tom Giacchi, his motor home driver, who vowed back in 2005 not to shave his beard until Edwards won again.

"That probably would be a 15-yard penalty in the National Football League for excessive celebration," says Edwards, "and would inevitably lead to a member of Pacman Jones' entourage shooting someone. Nevertheless, I can see this shaving thing being the next big thing in celebrations. In fact, the next time I win a Cup race, the beard or mustache of one lucky fan will be shaven in Victory Circle. The contest is open to anyone with facial hair, which, judging by a quick scan of the infield at any race, would include most women. Guitarists from ZZ Top, as well as werewolves, are not eligible."

6. Tony Stewart — After a horrible qualifying effort of 41st, Stewart's luck got even worse in Saturday's final practice session when he bounced off the Ford of David Gilliland, who had failed to signal that he was slowing to turn into pit road. Stewart's No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet was banged up, but was hammered back in to shape, for the most part, by Joe Gibbs crewmen.

"You can be sure that Gilliland will be the first topic of discussion on my Sirius radio show," says Stewart, "followed by my diatribe on why I hate M&Ms and Miller Lite. Then, just for kicks, I might compare NASCAR to professional wrestling."

7. Martin Truex, Jr. — Truex scraped the wall late in pursuit of race leader and eventual winner Carl Edwards, but the driver of the No. 1 DEI machine recovered and held on for second in Michigan. The runner-up finish gave Truex a first, a second, and a third in the last three races, all coming after Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s announcement that he was leaving DEI.

"Win, place, and show, baby!" exclaims Truex. "Obviously, I'm no No. 1-trick pony, though. I can carry this team by myself. I guess Teresa Earnhardt is looking like a genius now. I expect here to call me into her office any day now and thank me for a job well done. Actually, I've never seen the woman, but I hear she wears all black, peers into a crystal ball, and has a squad of flying monkeys to do her dirty work."

8. Jeff Burton — Burton finished two laps off the pace, coming home 24th in Michigan after qualifying ninth. After starting the season with seven top-10 finishes in the first eight races, Burton has seen the top 10 only twice since then. He is fifth in the points, 473 out of first.

"Give me a break," says Burton, "It's hard to keep my mind on racing when my sponsor, AT&T, is being sued for $100 million by NASCAR. I'd sue us, too, for having the gall to put the blue and white AT&T logo on an orange car. That goes together about as well as Michael Waltrip and speed. But I shouldn't be so hard on Waltrip. He just scored his first top-10 finish. I guess Toyota has truly turned the corner. Which is fitting, because Waltrip just turned the corner into turn 1 for the first time a few weeks ago after finally qualifying for a race."

9. Kevin Harvick — Harvick's No. 29 Chevrolet suffered minor front-end damage when he was collected on a lap 74 incident when Ryan Newman, clipped by Jeff Green, spun ahead of him. Harvick recovered and picked up his sixth top-10 finish of the year with a seventh.

"I'm taking my seventh-place finish with a grain of salt," says Harvick. "After all, Michael Waltrip finished tenth at Michigan, and Bill Elliott came home right behind him. Wild Bill from Dawsonville was so surprised to be there, he demanded that someone hand him a check for the Winston Million."

10. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — It was a busy week for Earnhardt. Earlier, the much-awaited blockbuster announcement was made that Earnhardt had signed to drive for Hendrick Motorsports in 2008. Then, on Sunday, Little E finished fifth in the Citizens Bank 400, which matched his season-best from Martinsville.

"I look forward to driving for HMS," says Earnhardt. "Sadly, though, Rick Hendrick has denied my request for 51% ownership of the company. In fact, he denied my request for 1% ownership. I'm not sure I'll be able to keep the No. 8 and Budweiser's sponsorship, but I'm praying, just like my fans. I know Kyle Busch is leaving, but I'm not sure No. 5 and Corn Flakes has the same appeal as No. 8 and Budweiser. I've just got one thing to say: 'Hooray beer!'"

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