Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2008 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

The Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race on the NASCAR schedule, and the twists and turns that take place over those four-and-a-half hours of racing led to plenty of opportunities for writers to change their votes in the rankings. As you might expect, Kasey Kahne made a leap from unranked to well inside the top 15, while Denny Hamlin‘s blown tire cost him more than a few positions at the end of Sunday’s race; he tumbled from third to well down the bottom half of our list.

But despite all the movers and shakers around them, one thing remained the same at the conclusion of 600 miles: with his third-place finish, Kyle Busch maintained his stranglehold on the top spot in the rankings, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. following close behind. Let the budding rivalry between the two continue! Where did Hamlin, Kahne and the rest of your favorite drivers wind up? Read on below to find out, and be sure to comment and let us know if you agree or disagree with the latest rankings by our Frontstretch experts.

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) Votes Last Week
1 Kyle Busch (8) 178 1
A third-place finish matches nicely with that third finger he held up to Jeff Gordon after the race. Oh, Kyle…
2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 164 2
The standard bearer for Hendrick this year pulled that one off with smoke and mirrors (and duct tape).
3 Jeff Burton 155 5
The only driver to run every lap of every race this season – now that’s consistency.
4 Carl Edwards 144 4
Ruh-roh! It looks like everyone has caught up to Edwards at intermediate tracks – and they’re just not good anywhere else!
5 Tony Stewart 120 8
It’s a good bet there will be a bomb threat phoned into Goodyear headquarters from a certain Columbus, Ind. household very soon.
6 Kasey Kahne (1) 118 NR
Could this be the first time in professional sports history that the fans have turned a season around for an organization?
7 Jeff Gordon 117 11
Making something out of nothing, the No. 24 team showed signs of becoming itself once again at Lowe’s.
8 Clint Bowyer 114 6
When you’re out of contention 30 miles into a 600-mile race, that’s going to lead to a looong day.
9 Greg Biffle 110 10
Beginning to look more and more like the former Busch and truck champion that he is.
10 Denny Hamlin 109 3
Acting more and more like his mentor Stewart when it comes to dealing with the press… and that’s not exactly a good thing.
11 Jimmie Johnson 98 7
Blown engine aside, this team has to be pleased it’s keeping up with the big dogs once again.
12 David Ragan 77 9
After a year of wadding up Jack Roush’s racecars, Ragan’s showing signs of returning the No. 6 car to its former glory and consistency.
13 Kevin Harvick 60 12
Hoping the upcoming rush of intermediate tracks doesn’t derail his strong start to the season.
14 Matt Kenseth 51 NR
The No. 17 bunch is looking more and more like a team getting back to their championship caliber performance of the past.
T-15 Mark Martin 42 14
With a broken header, shocked he didn’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning 200 laps into the race.
T-15 Bobby Labonte 42 NR
For as much grief as Petty Enterprises gets, they really aren’t running that bad.
Dropped Out: Ryan Newman (13), Martin Truex Jr. (15)
Also Receiving Votes: Ryan Newman (38) Martin Truex Jr. (36) Brian Vickers (24) Travis Kvapil (22) Kurt Busch (16) Juan Pablo Montoya (15) David Reutimann (14) Casey Mears (8) Elliott Sadler (7) Dave Blaney (7) Sam Hornish Jr. (2) Jamie McMurray (1) David Gilliland (1)
Who Voted: Ren Jonsin, Tom Bowles, Cami Starr, Mike Neff, Kim DeHaven, Tony Lumbis, Vito Pugliese 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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