Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2008 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

Sonoma and the wine country of northern California threw more twists and turns at the Cup drivers this weekend than a corkscrew on the hillside – with one glaring exception, of course.

It was Kyle Busch who reestablished himself firmly atop the rankings this week, coming off his series high fifth victory of the season. Behind him, main rival Dale Earnhardt Jr. slipped from first to third after failing to execute a successful fuel-mileage strategy two weeks in a row. Around them, it was pure mayhem as several drivers moved up and down on the basis of their road-course expertise. Matt Kenseth was the biggest winner; he moved into the top 12 in the driver standings and moved into the top five in the Power Rankings with his best ever finish at Infineon.

But just how high did Kenseth rise – and which driver bypassed Earnhardt for second? On the other end of the spectrum, Kevin Harvick’s bonsai dive into the hairpin that ended the victory chances of Tony Stewart and Jamie McMurray cost him his spot in the Chase; but did it cost him a spot in our top 15? Read on to find the answers and see if you agree with how the Frontstretch writers voted this week.

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 (7) 194 T-1
Well, everybody got their wish… Busch is done with trying for a Truck and Nationwide title. Now, he can just go back to running roughshod through the Cup Series.
2 Carl Edwards (1) 183 3
First in line to sign a new petition to abolish the yellow flag on a road course.
3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1) 180 T-1
We have a stinking feeling the Chase is going to come down between Junior and Busch – which means get ready for the debate over who got the better deal (JGR or HMS) to be discussed 24/7.
4 Jeff Burton 169 4
The top-15 parade shows no signs of stopping heading into Burton’s personal playground at Loudon.
5 Matt Kenseth (1) 151 6
You know the swagger is all the way back when Kenseth comes home top 10 on a road course.
6 Jeff Gordon 142 9
If we were Steve Letarte, we’d be sending out our resume after the backhanded compliments Gordon was throwing around on Sunday.
7 Kasey Kahne 137 5
If only they paid out points for running one lap, not 112.
8 Jimmie Johnson 129 7
Has had a winning car the last three consecutive weeks but was undone by pit strategy. When was the last time that happened to the No. 48 team?
9 Greg Biffle 125 8
Has enough self-inflicted wounds to be considered a suicide risk.
10 Tony Stewart 104 13
The only guy who has been wrecked more while running up front this year is Brad Keselowski.
11 Denny Hamlin 84 10
Completely MIA for the second week in a row.
12 Brian Vickers 81 11
Our Fearless Prediction of the Week: The No. 83 team qualifies for the 2008 Chase.
13 David Ragan 80 12
Even the Cinderella of the year can’t run outstanding every week.
14 Clint Bowyer 64 NR
Who knew tearing up the dirt tracks of the Midwest was such good training for road-course racing?
15 Martin Truex Jr. 48 T-15
Exercising his DEI option may be an exercise in futility.
Dropped Out: Kevin Harvick (14), Travis Kvapil (T-15)
Also Receiving Votes: Kevin Harvick (40), Ryan Newman (36), Travis Kvapil (31), David Gilliland (30), Jamie McMurray (29), Elliott Sadler (15), Mark Martin (14), Dave Blaney (13), Bobby Labonte (8), Kurt Busch (7), Juan Pablo Montoya (3), David Reutimann (2), Casey Mears (1)
Who Voted: Ren Jonsin, Tom Bowles, Cami Starr, Mike Neff, Kim DeHaven, Tony Lumbis, Matt Taliaferro, Vito Pugliese, Bryan Davis Keith and Doug Turnbull


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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