NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 19

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jeff Gordon — Gordon was never a threat to win, but consistently ran in the top 15 and finished ninth, his 17th top-10 finish on the year. He increased his lead over second place in the points from 271 to 303. After winning 10 of the first 15 races this year, Hendrick Motorsports is 0-5 in the last five. Is the field catching up to Hendrick?

"Not so fast, my friend," says Gordon. "Casey Mears won the pole, and Jimmie Johnson was certainly capable of winning until his tire blew. Me? I've got tons of other things on my mind besides racing. Like, when will Kyle Busch announce his signing with DEI, so I can give him the thumbs up and he can claim I gave him the 'brush off.' And how the heck am I going to pay for my daughter's college education in 18 years? Winning the Brickyard 400 might cover one year."

2. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth officially led one lap, 231, but that lead was short-lived, as Tony Stewart reclaimed the lead almost immediately and held off Kenseth for the final 36 laps. Kenseth also claimed runner-up status in Saturday's Busch Series USG Durock 300.

"Am I disappointed?" asks Kenseth. "Sure, I am. That's two losses. But on the bright side, that's 9,999 fewer than the Philadelphia Phillies."

3. Denny Hamlin — Although he only finished 17th, Hamlin was content that the tension between he and teammate Tony Stewart was resolved with the help of owner Joe Gibbs, who spoke with the two during Saturday's practice session. Hamlin and Stewart had been at odds since wrecking at Daytona two weeks ago.

"Breaking up is hard to do," says Hamlin, "but it always leads to the best thing in a relationship: the make-up meeting. And having Joe there made it even more special, albeit somewhat perverted. Joe's got a knack for saying the right thing, which is what you'd expect from someone who works for Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and still has a job. I'm glad Tony finally got a win, so he can feel like he's the leader of this team again."

4. Tony Stewart — Stewart won for the first time in 20 races, dominating the second half of the race at Chicagoland and performing his victory fence-climb for the first time in a while. Some onlookers even reported seeing Stewart smile, although these accounts have been unconfirmed as of press time. Stewart started 19th and quickly charged to the front, and took his first lead on lap 110.

"Just more proof that qualifying means nothing in NASCAR," says Stewart, "unless you don't qualify. And that's proof that Dale Jarrett is still driving. And now that I've cleared the air with Denny Hamlin, I can go back to being the Tony that everyone loves. I've got Joe Gibbs to thank for that. Joe just told me to relax, be myself, and limit my personalities to single digits."

5. Carl Edwards — Edwards followed up his fourth at Daytona with a third in the USG Sheetrock 400, chasing teammate Matt Kenseth across the line. Edwards improved one position to fifth in the points, 438 behind Jeff Gordon.

"As one of the younger guys on the circuit," says Edwards, "I feel it's my duty to compliment the band Hanson on a job well done singing the national anthem. I fondly recall, as an 18-year-old, just as my racing career was taking off, sitting on the hood of my car and eating my lunch out of my Hanson lunch box. If those brilliant marketing wizards that have Kelly Clarkson singing at NASCAR events, then 'Mmmbop' might be the next official song of NASCAR."

6. Jimmie Johnson — On lap 223, while in second and in hot pursuit of race leader Tony Stewart, Johnson's left rear tire blew, sending him hard into the wall. Johnson had previously led 82 laps, and what was sure to be a top-five result ended with a 37th, and he dropped three places in the points to seventh, 488 behind Jeff Gordon.

"What did the fish say when he hit the wall?" asks Johnson. "'Dam.' That's rated G compared to what I said when I blew that tire doing 180 miles per hour. I'm not sure I could have passed Tony, but I definitely could have got right on his tail, wrecked him, and blamed him for the accident."

7. Jeff Burton — Burton snagged his tenth top-10 of the year with a solid seventh in the USG Sheetrock 400, joining Richard Childress teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer in the top 10.

"Luckily, NASCAR broadcasts will be moving to ESPN starting with the Brickyard 400 in two weeks," says Burton. "I think NBC and TNT were more committed to the almighty dollar than the actual sport. I'm sure ESPN will bring the same commitment to excellence and broadcast flair that they displayed in televising eating competitions and rock, paper, scissors tournaments."

8. Kevin Harvick — Harvick led 48 of the first 109 laps at Chicagoland, but was unable to get in position late to challenge for the win. Still, his fourth-place finish capped a successful weekend, as Harvick won the USG Durock 300 for his third Busch Series victory of the year.

"Chicago's always been good to me," says Harvick. "That's why it was great to see Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith give the 'Gentlemen, start your engines' command, although I was a little surprised he chose that moment to reiterate that Rex Grossman is his starting quarterback."

9. Clint Bowyer — It was a great weekend for Richard Childress Racing. In Saturday's Busch Series USG Durock 300, Kevin Harvick won while teammates Jeff Burton and Bowyer finished third and fourth, respectively. On Sunday, Harvick, Burton, and Bowyer crossed the line in the fourth, seventh, and 10th spots. Bowyer moves up a spot to 10h in the points, a safe 160 ahead of Ryan Newman in 13th.

"I'd say I'm a lock for the postseason," says Bowyer. "Or so says my alter-ego, Chase Worthy. This RCR team is solid. We're not feuding, and we definitely aren't cheaters. I know everyone thinks NASCAR is extremely strict when it comes to violations, but they've got nothing on the International Association of Athletics Federation. The IAAF actually said that prosthetic legs create less wind resistance than a real leg, so, in essence, they believe that runners with prosthetic legs have an advantage. That's what I call stretching the rule book."

10. Kyle Busch — After his heartbreaking loss in Daytona, Busch finished a healthy 13th at Chicagoland, and now stands ninth in the points, 597 out of first. As of now, Busch is still officially a member of Hendrick Motorsports and unofficially a member of DEI.

"If I see Gordon, Johnson, or Mears on the side of the road with a broke-down car," says Busch, "I'd do what any stranger would do — stop and ask for for an autograph. I'll be damned if I'd help them, though."

Comments and Conversation

July 19, 2007

sharon massenburg:

Matt Kenseth , is the man! People don’t talk about Matt, like they do other drivers,but he is a very talented driver.Don’t slip,because you might miss something.Hang in there Matt, and do your thing.I support you 100%.I have faith in you,even if no one else does.Because I know,that you have skills!Handle your business.

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