The regular season has come to an end, and like it or not, the fifth year of the Chase is upon us. There are 12 drivers now eligible to win the Cup Series title, unlike the two or three who’d be in contention under the old points system. But even though the list has expanded, there are really just four or five men who legitimately have what it takes to win the championship. Looking at this week’s rankings, we can see exactly who our staff feels is worthy this year… and why.
So, which one of the top-three seeds – Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards or Kyle Busch – has Frontstretch voted number one to begin this 10-race stretch? And which three darkhorse contenders moved up three spots on the list, positioning themselves for a run at this year’s version of Chase Cinderella? To see who’s ready to rumble and who’s ready to flop in the playoffs – as well as which non-Chasers deserve their spot in the limelight – check out the results of our Power Rankings below.
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.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP-15 POWER RANKINGS: SEPTEMBER 10, 2008|
|Rank||Driver (First-Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Jimmie Johnson (7)||192||3|
|December, 2007 – From The NASCAR Archives
Brian France: Jimmie, we love that you’re our champion for a second straight year – but look how bad our ratings are since you’ve dominated.
Johnson: No problem, Brian. We’ll go on sabbatical until September next year and then do it all over again.
|2||Kyle Busch (3)||187||2|
|Playoff’s number one seed also doubles as NASCAR’s public enemy number one.|
|Both helped and handicapped this Chase by the fact his best tracks are 1 to 2 miles in length.|
|RCR’s best hope for a title – but is that really saying much?|
|Ultimately still looking like the No. 3 driver at JGR, and that may not change next year, either.|
|The new Home Depot commercial featuring Stewart and Joey Logano ends with the champ reluctantly handing over the wheel to the young protege. But if they wanted a truly accurate depiction, Stewart should’ve chucked the thing at the kid.|
|7||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||132||10|
|Confessed to trying some new stuff the last few weeks – which means he’s now back to running in the top five early before this team shoots itself in the foot.|
|If there is a darkhorse for the Chase, it’s Biffle. A run of good luck could make him the first triple crown NASCAR champion.|
|Makes history as first Chase competitor ever to start the playoffs on suicide watch.|
|After the way he started the year, Burton could turn around and have a shot at the title; but for now, he looks more like a lock for 11th or 12th.|
|Last year’s Chase Cinderella is probably going to fight neck and neck with Burton for 12th place.|
|Boosted his stock with a top 10 at Richmond – but not enough to stop the bleeding.|
|In order to make the Chase, you must run well on all types of tracks. This year, short tracks were Ragan’s undoing.|
|Chase or no, he’s still the best Dodge driver – but that’s like being the best C student.|
|Shipping out the finishes UPS wanted… exactly four months too late.|
|Dropped Out: Brian Vickers (15)|
|Also Receiving Votes: Martin Truex Jr. (36), Mark Martin (33), Ryan Newman (32), Brian Vickers (29), Kurt Busch (26), Jamie McMurray (15), Casey Mears (12), Travis Kvapil (3), Elliott Sadler (3), Bobby Labonte (3), David Gilliland (3), Ken Schrader (2), Dave Blaney (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.