Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2008 Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington

Darlington Raceway may have had a facelift, but no matter what you do to the old girl, she’s still the track too tough to tame. A ton of grip and a hard tire meant that the cars went faster than ever before, but they also hit the wall harder and more often than ever before. The track claimed several victims during the night and had some surprise top-10 finishers. For the most part, the top drivers in the rankings finished up front so there wasn’t much movement this week. Read on to see if you agree or disagree with the latest choices by the Frontstretch writers.

How the Rankings are Calculated: Frontstretch does their power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football – writers on our staff will vote for the top 20 on a 20-19-18-17-16-15… 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first-place driver, 19 for their second, and so on. In the end, Mike Neff calculates the points, adds some funny one liners, and… voila! You have the Power Rankings from our dedicated staff.

Rank Driver (First Place Votes) Points Last Week
1 Kyle Busch (7) 177 1
  The last time a car looked that beat up that won a race it was in Bristol with Terry Labonte.
2 Jeff Burton (1) 158 2
  Who knew you could finish in the top 15 all 11 races and not wind up with the points lead?
3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 152 5
  Jr.’s car may have looked like Ol’ DW’s machine, but their interviewing style is quite the polar opposite. Maybe that’s a good thing for Jr.
4 Denny Hamlin 150 3
  Those two years of being JGR’s next championship hopeful sure were fun.
5 Carl Edwards (1) 147 6
  Hoping Roush doesn’t take his crew chief to try and make McMurray run better again.
6 Clint Bowyer 135 4
  Only in NASCAR can you go from surprise winner to rolling wrecking ball in the matter of seven days.
7 Jimmie Johnson 130 8
  A championship-style performance after wrecking not one, but two cars, in Darlington practice.
8 Tony Stewart 118 7
  Darlington continues its stranglehold on Smoke.
9 Jeff Gordon 89 12
  Dale Earnhardt once thought he saw two tracks at Darlington and now Gordon thinks his is seeing slanted cars. What kind of water is in that minnow pond anyway?
10 David Ragan 75 13
  How much does Jamie McMurray make per year?
11 Kevin Harvick 71 9
  Too bad his car didn’t bounce off the walls quite as well as Busch’s did Saturday night.
12 Greg Biffle 68 11
  Sounded like a man on a mission for more money after throwing his crew under the bus at Darlington.
13 Ryan Newman  66 10
  The mediocrity tour 2008 continues.
14 Martin Truex Jr. 59 14
  Finally realized he might need to run well in order to cash in on that free agent contract down the road.
15 Travis Kvapil 52 NR
  One of the simplest and coolest paint schemes in years. Hoping more Ford Dealers will jump on board.

Falling out of the rankings: Juan Pablo Montoya

Also receiving votes: Mark Martin (44), Juan Pablo Montoya (38), Matt Kenseth (31), Kasey Kahne (27), Brian Vickers (24), Jamie McMurray (19), Bobby Labonte (16), David Gilliland (16), Kurt Busch (13), Casey Mears (8), David Reutimann (3), Scott Riggs (2), Paul Menard (1), Dave Blaney (1)

Writers voting this week: Ren Jonsin, Tom Bowles, Cami Starr, Mike Neff, Tony Lumbis and Bryan Davis Keith

About the author

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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