NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 29

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson held off a kamikaze pass attempt by Carl Edwards on the final lap to win the Camping World RV 400 at Kansas Motor Speedway. Johnson started from the pole, qualifying second, but assuming the top spot on the grid when Juan Montoya's pole-winning speed was disallowed because of a rules infraction. Johnson lead a race-high 131 laps, and those bonus points helped give him a 10-point lead in the points over Edwards.

"Finding out we won the pole was a great start to the week," says Johnson. "Chad Knaus will second me on this, but it's not often you 'benefit' from a rules violation. I'm not sure what Montoya had in his car, but NASCAR officials were obviously profiling when they chose to search it. Pity that poor Colombian. He can't pass inspection, nor customs."

2. Carl Edwards — After losing his lead in the pits to Jimmie Johnson on lap 220, Edwards made a daring attempt on the final lap to pass Johnson. Edwards drove deep into turn three, flying underneath Johnson before slamming the wall as Johnson drove back by him for the win. Edwards now trails Johnson by 10 points after arriving in Kansas with a 10-point lead.

"Thanks goodness that wall was there," says Edwards. "Otherwise, I might not have been in Kansas anymore. Sure, it was a gutsy move. A move like that takes courage and heart, but does not require a bit of brains to attempt."

3. Greg Biffle — Biffle finished third in Kansas, unable to seriously challenge for the win, but more than capable of maintaining position for what four weeks ago seemed like an unlikely chance at the Cup title. Biffle now trails points leader Jimmie Johnson by 30 points.

"In the final 10 races," says Biffle, "it's all about win, place, or show. This isn't a horse race, although Kyle Busch's opinion of Carl Edwards' teeth would indicate otherwise. In the first 26, it's all about sandbagging. Obviously, I spent the first 26 races laying low in the bushes, then I popped up out of nowhere like a NASCAR drug-testing policy."

4. Kevin Harvick — For the ninth consecutive race, Harvick finished in the top 10, bringing home a sixth in the Camping World RV 400. Still, with Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, and Greg Biffle besting his result, Harvick was unable to gain ground on the Chase leaders. He is currently 136 out of first.

"I guess they don't call it the 'Chase' for nothing," says Harvick. "Johnson, Edwards, and Biffle are leading; we're chasing. Obviously, we'll need some bad luck to befall those three at Talladega, and beyond. A massive pileup in Alabama involving those three would certainly help, but if Johnson, Edwards, and Biffle could somehow get stuck with an engine from Kyle Busch's shop, that would be the ideal situation."

5. Jeff Gordon — In a new twist, Gordon battled not an ill-handling car, but illness itself as an unspecified ailment made for one of Gordon's most grueling races. Showing the heart of a champion, Gordon persevered and fought his way to a fourth in Kansas. He made the biggest jump in the points among Chase drivers, advancing two places to sixth, where he is 143 out of first.

"I'm not sure what it was that made me sick," says Gordon. "Usually, I don't feel ill until I actually get into the car and find it undrivable."

6. Jeff Burton — Burton finished seventh in Kansas, one spot behind Richard Childress teammate Kevin Harvick, as the RCR squad continued to produce solid results. Burton held on to the fourth spot in the point standings, 121 out of first.

"Once again, RCR put cars in the top 10," says Burton, "just as we did last week. Sounds like a case of déjà vu, or maybe that's just because last week's race in Dover and this week's in Kansas were named the exact same thing, the Camping World RV 400."

7. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth recovered from a lug nut problem and a spin on the track to post his second consecutive top-five finish, scoring a fifth in Kansas. He moved up one spot in the points to ninth, and is 192 out of first.

"As a teammate of two of the top-three Chasers," says Kenseth, "I've got a feeling I'll have an impact on the outcome at Talladega, a track in which teamwork plays an important role. Faced with the choice of helping Greg Biffle or Carl Edwards, I guess I'd have to choose Edwards. It's not exactly the kind of 'push' I've always wanted to give him, but until I find him teetering on a 10th-story ledge, it will have to do."

8. Clint Bowyer — After being black flagged at the start for passing before the start/finish line, Bowyer started in a hole. Later, he was nabbed speeding on his pit exit and penalized again. Despite his troubles, Bowyer, in the Jack Daniels Chevrolet, managed a respectable finish of 12th, which left him seventh in the points, 164 out of the lead.

"It's true what they say," says Bowyer. "Once you go 'black,' you can never go back ... to the front, that is."

9. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Earnhardt finished 13th in Kansas, another disappointing result in the Chase for the driver of the No. 88 National Guard/Amp Chevrolet. After a strong start in New Hampshire, Earnhardt has finished outside the top 10 in his last two races, leaving him 190 points off the lead in the Sprint Cup point standings.

"Sure, the results haven't been there," says Earnhardt, "but the chatter on the team radio has been filth-free, and even jovial at times. I guess I have to thank Rick Hendrick for monitoring my language over the radio. Thanks to his involvement, we've cut out nearly all four-letter words. Unfortunately, there's two four-letter words that still remain — 'lose' and 'Eury.'"

10. Tony Stewart — Stewart struggled mightily in Kansas, qualifying 41st on Friday, then colliding with Brian Vickers in Sunday's race, a spin which sent him sliding through the infield grass. With damage to his splitter, Stewart finished 40th and dropped four places in the point standings. Now, Joe Gibbs Racing drivers occupy the bottom three positions in the standing, with Stewart 11th, 255 out of first.

"Wow, we're 10, 11, 12?" says Stewart. "Talk about 'running a train.' As my interview in Rolling Stone indicated, that's not the kind of train I'm interested in running."

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