NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 1

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Ryan Newman — Newman, buoyed by help from teammate Kurt Bush, rocketed past Tony Stewart on the final lap, securing car owner Roger Penske's first Daytona 500 win. Newman credited Busch for his help, and called Busch's assist a "push from God."

"Yeah, you heard right," says Newman. "The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge is the holy vessel of God's will. They say the Lord works in mysterious ways. I'd definitely classify 'through Kurt Busch' as mysterious, not to mention pretty darn scary. I haven't seen this kind of an assist from Penske teammates since I packed Rusty Wallace's bags for him in 15 minutes. Kurt and I work pretty well as teammates. Throw in divine intervention, and you've got an unbeatable combination, even when Tony Stewart teams up with his pal Satan, who's known for his hellacious pit strategy."

2. Tony Stewart — It was evident that the Joe Gibbs Toyotas weren't lacking for power in their debut at Daytona, as Stewart and teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin led 134 of the 200 laps. As possibly the greatest driver never to have won the 500, Stewart carried the burden of his own lofty expectations, as well as the weight of an extra chin, into the lead with one lap remaining. But circumstances and the lack of a push from behind cost Stewart, and he was passed by Ryan Newman, wisely paired up with teammate Kurt Busch, for the win.

"I guess there's one Penske driver who can beat me to the punch," says Stewart, who's beginning to look a lot like an overweight version of New York cop Frank Serpico. "But I couldn't be more happier with the Toyota power plant. I can't wait to thank those Japanese engineers in person. To the Japanese people, I'm like Godzilla. They revere me, but they're scared to death of me. Just like NASCAR photographers. That will also give me the opportunity to introduce my new product, 'Smoke' brand wasabi sauce, guaranteed to blister the tongue like a used tire at Daytona."

3. Kyle Busch — Busch clearly had the strongest car, leading a race-high 86 laps, but as he and Stewart split race leader Jeff Burton on the restart with four laps to go, Busch went below the yellow line. He immediately gave the position back so as not to suffer a black flag, and that left him too far back to make his own run for the win, let alone help Stewart against the Penske duo.

"Sure, I wish I could have won the race," says Busch. "But I can't be disappointed with a fourth to go along with seconds in both the Craftsman Truck series and the Nationwide series. It doesn't matter what make of car I drive or for which iconic car owner I drive, I get results, often in more immediate fashion than the Guantanamo Bay Waterboarding Team. But, as a teammate of Tony Stewart, my brother Kurt's most hated rival, I'm faced with an awkward situation. Whose side do I choose? It's a difficult situation in which to be. After much deliberation, I've chosen to go with Tony. Not because he's my teammate; I hate my brother, too."

4. Kurt Busch — Busch rallied from a starting position of 43rd, and a previous punch from nemesis Tony Stewart and drove into position to follow teammate Ryan Newman across the line for a 1-2 Roger Penske finish. On February 8th, during a practice for the Budweiser Shootout, Busch and Stewart's annual altercation led to Busch ramming Stewart's No. 20 Toyota on the track, and Stewart slugging Busch in their meeting with NASCAR officials.

"I guess it's pretty stupid to get so upset about a crash in practice," says Busch. "I mean, it's practice. We're talking 'bout practice? Practice? Practice? Even Allen Iverson would say that's dumb. Anyway, we made history. Newman became the first Penske driver to win the Daytona 500, and I became the first driver from any team to be slugged both by Jimmie Spencer and Tony Stewart."

5. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt's ninth-place finish set the pace for the Hendrick Motorsports stable, and while his result in his Hendrick debut should not be considered a disappointment, it certainly could have been better. Earnhardt stayed out after a late caution while all of the leaders pitted, then, a radio malfunction led to a missed signal to pit 20 laps from the end. Furthermore, Earnhardt's rabid fans were faced with the stunning realization that Amp energy drink does not contain alcohol.

"But it makes a great mixer," says Earnhardt. "And it gives you the strength to turn back the charges of any random attacks from 800-pound gorillas you may face during your daily routine. If you believe that, then you're probably enjoying a drink of Amp'd right now while dressed head-to-toe in No. 88 gear. I've got a name for my fans who've switched over and bought my new merchandise — the 'Crazy 8s.' Those that are still wearing my old gear; well, you all are the 'Lazy 8s.' Let's face it. My merchandise sales drive this nation's economy. So, if you don't spend your government rebate check on No. 88 merchandise, then you're un-American, and probably a fan of open-wheel racing."

6. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson's quest to become only the second driver to win three-straight Cup titles began with a lackluster 27th at Daytona. The No. 48 Chevrolet came off the jack in an early pit stop, then Johnson was spun in a brush with rookie and former open-wheel champ Sam Hornish, Jr. Johnson will resume his quest to match Yarborough's feat from well down the points standings. However, a 39th in last year's 500 didn't stop him from capturing his second consecutive title.

"My chase for number three is off to a slow start," says Johnson. "But the race to duplicate Yarborough's feat is well underway. In fact, just the other day, I whipped the tails of two brothers named 'Allison.' It wasn't Bobby and Donnie, though. It was Joey and Billy, 8- and 10-year-old brothers who just wouldn't stop badgering me for an autograph. Look kids, if you want me to sign a helmet, just don't throw it at me.

"As for Hornish, there are reasons these open-wheeled drivers are here in NASCAR. One, they give people like me someone to blame in cases in which I wreck them, as in Sunday's race. And, they give us ample opportunities to gaze upon Ashley Judd, wife of Dario Franchitti. I hear Ashley's sister, Wynona, or as she's known in the Pacific Northwest, Sasquatch, is single and looking for a driver. Elliot Sadler would make a perfect match."

7. Kasey Kahne — For the second consecutive year, Kahne earned a seventh-place finish at Daytona, only this time he did it under the Budweiser banner. Kahne finished two spots ahead of the former driver of the Bud car, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., a situation that did not sit well with Earnhardt fans, leaving them in the awkward situation of tossing Budweiser cans at the Budweiser car.

"I've gone from starring in ads aimed at undersexed, middle-aged housewives," says Kahne, "to promoting a product to oversexed, middle-aged men. So, in essence, I went from being a wife's favorite driver to being her husband's favorite. But, there's no truth to the rumor that I've changed my name to Kasey Kahne, Jr. and I've started speaking with a North Carolina accent."

8. Jeff Gordon — What looked like a promising day for Gordon turned sour when a suspension failure on lap 153 extinguish his chances for a fourth Daytona 500 win. He completed 186 laps and finished 39th.

"At least it wasn't a catastrophic suspension failure," says Gordon. "A truly 'catastrophic suspension failure' is when the velcro straps on my little girl's diaper break. But at least I kept the car off the wall, which is more than I can say for Casey Mears. That dude's seen more walls than Pink Floyd."

9. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer was in the lead on lap 184 when he was clipped and sent spinning by the No. 42 car of Juan Pablo Montoya, father of South American teeny-bop sensation Hannah Montoya. The spin flat-spotted all four of the tires on Bowyer's Jack Daniels Chevy, and after leaving the pits, he came home in 24th.

"As a native of Bogota, Colombia," says Bowyer, "you'd think Montoya would be able to hold a line. He should have been content just to tuck in comfortably behind me. Ask any fan. I guarantee you they would have been thrilled to see 'Jack and Coke' atop the Daytona leaderboard."

10. Reed Sorenson — Sorenson was fast for the duration of Daytona's Speed Weeks, finishing second to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the first of the Gatorade Duels, and powering to a fifth in the Daytona 500. Sorenson also led five laps in the 500, and placed his name amongst the ranks of a star-studded top 10.

"I'm sure some people may think I felt out of place up there with the big dogs," says Sorenson. "Maybe I was a little bit out of my element, but compared to Chubby Checker and Kool and the Gang on the Daytona infield, I felt right at home. That was the most un-NASCAR-like moment since last year's pre-race concert. You should have seen the bewildered expression on Junior Johnson's face. Of course, Junior's always got that bewildered expression on his face."

Predicted Auto Club 500 winner: Jeff Burton

Comments and Conversation

February 21, 2008

Marc V:

As a Dodge supporter I could not ask for a better finish. If this seasons the Dodge teams keep working together then more results like that will happen.Bobby Labonte have been fairly stong during the race too and made his way up to finish 11th.
Other than that the nicest finish would have been a 1-2 Petty-Labonte To pay a tribute to old Lee.

February 21, 2008


NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 1
Note: the quotes in this article are actual.

1 — Ryan Newman 190 Leader
2 — Kurt Busch 175
3 — Tony Stewart 170
4 — Kyle Busch 170
5 — Reed Sorenson 160
6 — Kasey Kahne 151
7 — Elliott Sadler 150
8 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. 143
9 — Greg Biffle 139
10 — Bobby Labonte

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