NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 3

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Carl Edwards — Edwards led 86 laps on his way to his second consecutive win, sweeping NASCAR's West Coast swing with a convincing victory in the UAW-Dodge 400. As he did in California, Edwards proved his Roush Fenway Ford has the horsepower to challenge the Gibbs Toyotas and Hendrick Chevys. And he's got the teeth to challenge any horse in a smiling contest.

"And NASCAR wants to penalize me for having the lid off my oil reservoir," says Edwards. "What kind of advantage does that give my car? It's ridiculous. It's simply a nefarious conspiracy, much like the purported Hells Angels conspiracy to wack Mick Jagger. Unfortunately, NASCAR succeeded in its wicked, conspiring ways, while just as unfortunately, the Hell's Angels failed in theirs. But it looks like they did get in several solid licks with the ugly stick."

2. Kyle Busch — Hometown hero Busch started on the pole in Vegas and led 56 laps, but a late tire deflation issue derailed his hopes to win. Busch still scrambled to an 11th-place finish and is 21 points behind Carl Edwards in the points.

"We had a great start, leading the first 20 laps," says Busch. "After that, we were up and down, never quite making the right adjustments. We're still figuring out this Camry. I think much of the uncertainty stems from the fact that this is a Japanese product. Japanese engineering has always blown my mind; heck, I don't even know how they make fried rice, even though the name is pretty much self-explanatory. And I always thought an 'egg roll' was a race ran on Easter Sunday. I do love my Sudoku, though. She gives the best massages."

3. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt was unable to challenge Carl Edwards after the race's final restart, handicapped by a lengthy red flag wait that left his No. 88 Chevy with cold tires and little grip. Still, it was a successful day in Vegas, as Earnhardt advanced 13 positions in the Sprint Cup points to 10th.

"I was so close," says Earnhardt, "I could taste it. Usually, when I make that statement, it's not necessarily a good thing, especially when I wake up from a hard night of drinking with my buddies, only to slowly come to the realization that they've positioned my face in a not-so-pleasant place. Talk about a 'rear spoiler.' But I love my posse, even though they've yet to assassinate a rival rapper on my behalf. Flo Rider, watch your back. Anyway, I'm pleased with my performance with Hendrick so far, and I've learned so much from Gordon and Johnson already, like how not to cause a wreck, and how not to blow the setup on a track you've previously mastered."

4. Kasey Kahne — Kahne finished seventh in Las Vegas, and is the only driver with top-10s in all three races this year. He now sits fourth in the points, 47 out of first.

"This Budweiser sponsorship is just what I needed to turn my career around," says Kahne. "We're running great in races, and I've never signed so many autographs in my life. Unfortunately, I'm not signing my autographs. These insanely loyal Dale, Jr. fans insist that Earnhardt is still driving the Bud car, so I have to sign his name just to get them to leave. Come to think of it, this Budweiser deal may be a curse. Before, it was a pleasure signing my name across a fan's chest. Now that men are asking me to do it, the thrill is gone, baby."

5. Kevin Harvick — Harvick led the charge of two Richard Childress cars in the top five, finishing fourth in Las Vegas with Jeff Burton right behind in fifth. Harvick moves up two places in the Sprint Cup standings to fifth, 63 out of first.

"RCR drivers near the top of the standings with little shot of winning a championship?" says Harvick. "That's old hat to us. And speaking of old hats, you can take an old baseball hat to your local NAPA Auto Parts store and exchange it for a brand new NAPA racing hat, with a purchase, of course. That's assuming you want a new NAPA racing hat. In a related promotion, you can take your Shell/Pennzoil cap to your local Shell station or Pennzoil dealer and tell 'em 'I'm already a Kevin Harvick fan, and Kevin doesn't need some gimmicky promotion to get people to wear his merchandise. If I want Kevin Harvick merchandise, I'll get in the old-fashioned way: at a race, from a mobile merchandise trailer, from some toothless carnival barker, at an extremely overpriced dollar amount.'"

6. Tony Stewart — After blowing a right front tire, Stewart's No. 20 Home Depot Toyota hammered the turn four wall on lap 108. Stewart was banged up and reported "tingling" in his leg, adding that the crash was "the hardest hit he's taken in a long time." After some time in the infield care center, Stewart left with only a bruised foot.

"'Tingling in the legs' and 'hardest hit he's taken,'" recites Stewart. "That's got to be lyrics from a Willie Nelson song. Anyway, you won't hear Kurt Busch describing my punches as the hardest hit he's taken. And, despite what you hear, I didn't punch anyone inside the care center, although I came close to clocking a nurse who looked at me sideways. Thank goodness for the SAFER barrier, though. Not just the one on the track walls, but the one underneath my skin. The soft, gelatinous layer of fat has served me well, not only in my car, but in my second job, at Pillsbury."

7. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth was battling Jeff Gordon for second on lap 262 when Gordon drifted high and clipped Kenseth. Gordon spun into the inside wall, destroying his car, while Kenseth maintained control but was forced to pit for four tires. What looked like a sure top-three result became a finish of 20th. Over his team radio, Kenseth reacted with a level of fury uncharacteristic of the soft-spoken Wisconsin native, saying "I'll not forget this one easily." Whoa, Matt! Settle down, there. That kind of language would make, well, no one blush, not even Mark Martin. I commend you on your grammar and delivery, but this is NASCAR. You've got to assert yourself, otherwise you'll be shoved around, bullied, strong-armed, or intimidated in some other fashion, like you have been throughout your career. What do you consider a fight, Matt? "Dueling Banjos?" When you get wrecked, you've got to respond angrily, with a drop-kick, maybe, or some salty language.

"Like, 'I drink your milkshake!'" says Kenseth.

No. Not scary.

"Okay, I'm from Wisconsin. How about 'I eat your cheese!?"

Pathetic. Try again.

"Okay. I always liked the way fellow Wisconsonite Richie Cunningham handled himself. I'll go with, 'Sit on it!'"

Nope. Even Ralph Malph would laugh in your face. Methinks you need a bit of courage, Matthew.

"Very well, then. I'm off to see the Wizard."

8. Ryan Newman — Daytona 500 winner Newman finished 12th in the Sin City 400, giving him three top-15 finishes as the series heads to Atlanta. He is third in the Sprint Cup points standings, 41 points out of first.

"If I've learned one thing this year," says Newman, "it's that God's power works in an unpredictable manner, especially when channeled through the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, a latter-day burning bush. First, at Daytona, God wills me to victory with a push from Kurt Busch's holy-roller. Then, in Vegas, Kurt blows a tire and slams the wall, leaving me to race 41 other cars on my own. No disrespect to the victims of the Plagues of Egypt, but Jesus H. Christ, I think God was a little harsh on me."

9. Greg Biffle — If not for a speeding infraction on pit row, Biffle's No. 16 Ford could have replaced Carl Edwards' No. 99 as the Roush Fenway car in victory lane. Instead, Biffle settled for third, which moved him up three places in the points to sixth.

"Carl was fast," says Biffle. "But to coin an overused cliche, I think I 'had something for him.' In fact, I did have something for him — a congratulatory handshake. I'm quite envious of Carl, but not because of any one of his 55 teeth, nor his ability to backflip like the Great Muta. It's that belt he got for winning in Vegas. That thing is sweet. It would look great with my khaki pants, Speed TV polo shirt, and penny loafers on the set of This Week in NASCAR. I am bringing sexy back."

10. (tie) Jeff Gordon/Jimmie Johnson — While the pieces of Gordon's Nicorette-sponsored Chevrolet were being swept and Dust Buster-ed off the track, Johnson was languishing two laps down in 29th. After some promising practice times, Johnson qualified 33rd on Saturday and never was able find the same race setup that won him his last three Las Vegas starts. He finished 29th and fell six places in the points to 14th.

"We obviously missed the setup," says Johnson's crew chief, Chad Knaus. "I'll take part of the blame. I failed to make the right calls, and my presence was barely noticeable on pit row. That may have been due to the fact that I was calling the race from the pit at the Bellagio. Just like Jimmie, I crapped out early, and I got caught on video counting cards at the blackjack table. They suspended me for six hands. But I hear Carl Edwards won the race and failed inspection after the race. I like the way he does things, but I'm gonna have to call 'copyright infringement' on that one. Anyway, we'll turn things around. We've just got to put on our Jimmie-hats and go back to the drawing board."

After his violent crash, Gordon condemned the track for not having SAFER barrier protection on the inside walls. Lost in the magnitude of Gordon's crash was the plight of the gopher manning FOX's 'Gopher-Cam,' who was sadly done in by Gordon's No. 24 Chevy as it slid wildly through the infield grass.

"I've made a career exterminating those little varmints," says "Caddyshack's" Carl Spackler, a surprise choice to deliver the gopher's eulogy. "But I must say, I had a little soft spot for that little fellow. I'll miss him, even though he never had a name."

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