Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2008 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono

After the second weekend of testing out the Pythagorean theory at Pocono, the shape of the Chase came a little more into focus. The top drivers in points (“A” students) are solidifying their positions for September and beyond while aggressively going for the win – and the 10-point bonus that goes with it. Meanwhile, positions seven through 15 (our “B” level pupils) are still very much in flux, riding a rollercoaster of inconsistencies in which positions swap like hotcakes each week.

The end result is a “C”hase for the Championship eligibility sweepstakes that’s squaring up to be one heck of a battleground for the next five weeks.

Considering the range of possibilities ahead, it’s surprising our Power Rankings stayed fairly stable. Brian Vickers was the lone exception; his run of bad luck dropped him out of the list, allowing a fellow Chase hopeful to slide into his place. Who is the mystery man – with a mystery sponsor for ’09 – that’s once again cracked our Top 15?

And while Kyle Busch still holds the top spot, how close is he to losing his grip after his gas tank – and his patience – ran low at Pocono? To see how the Xs and Ys were squared to come up with Z this week, check out the results of our Power Rankings – voted on by your favorite 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) Votes Last Week
1 Kyle Busch (6) 193 1
43rd and 36th-place finishes at the Tricky Triangle in 2008 may have Busch joining Bruton Smith’s “I want Pocono off the schedule” club.
2 Carl Edwards (2) 189 2
Thanks to the Chase – and his recent summer surge – that 100-point penalty from Vegas isn’t going to mean squat.
3 Jimmie Johnson (2) 183 3
No matter where he is in the standings, past and present history makes him the favorite going into the Chase.
4 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 161 4
Finished much worse than he ran all day again this week; is Tony Eury Jr. feeling some pressure all over again?
5 Tony Stewart 143 6
Looks like summer is starting late this year on the Stewart calendar.
6 Jeff Gordon 136 7
Gordon’s gas tank on the last lap at Pocono proves a perfect match for his patience with this team.
7 Matt Kenseth 129 5
Just how tight is the race for the Chase? Kenseth finished a solid 11th in the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500, and still dropped two spots in the standings. That put him on the outside looking in by – you guessed it – 11 points.
8 Kasey Kahne 114 9
Kenny Francis to Kasey after the race: I’m super sorry about our pit strategy.
9 David Ragan 109 11
Even the most bitter of bitter Martin fans have to applaud the way this young man has handled himself.
10 Greg Biffle 107 10
If Biffle could ever turn his luck around, he just might be the first to win the championship in all three series.
11 Jeff Burton 102 8
Seriously… put this guy on a milk carton. Nobody has heard of him as of late.
T-12 Denny Hamlin 82 13
Trying hard to be the only Gibbs car not to make the Chase.
T-12 Kevin Harvick 82 14
Taken out on back-to-back weekends by his two arch-nemeses: Kurt Busch and Joe Nemechek. Surprisingly enough, did not pull his usual behavior of walking on anybody’s car afterwards.
14 Clint Bowyer 80 NR
Might just want to concentrate on that Nationwide Series title; his Sprint Cup hopes are drowning their sorrows in Old No. 7 right about now.
15 Ryan Newman 60 15
If Krissie Newman is blogging about his future, then why do Chad and those nerds in the van not have a forum?!
Dropped Out: Brian Vickers (12)
Also Receiving Votes: Brian Vickers (51), Mark Martin (47), Martin Truex Jr. (39), Elliott Sadler (21), Kurt Busch (20), Jamie McMurray (18), AJ Allmendinger (15), Bobby Labonte (13), Casey Mears (3), Patrick Carpentier (2), Juan Pablo Montoya (1), Scott Riggs (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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