The oldest track on the circuit had its usual beating and banging this weekend; but when the smoke from Martinsville cleared, there was one warrior who stood head and shoulders above everyone else. As a result, the Chase picture appears more focused than ever, as Jimmie Johnson’s dominant performance has most everyone believing he’s got the title all but sewn up. There are several others still with a chance to win it all, but it’s going to take some trouble out of the No. 48 team in order to make their dreams come true.
If you’re still doubting Johnson’s championship future, well, let’s put it this way: our writers are convinced. Johnson pulled off the sweep this week in the Power Rankings, garnering all 10 first-place votes. But what about the big shifts behind him? Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton and Tony Stewart are just some of the Chasers who had major jumps up and down the ladder this week. Check our rankings to see if your driver kept the short-track fenders on or finished without his hood in this week’s Power Rankings.
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 the 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: OCTOBER 22, 2008|
|Rank||Driver (First-Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Jimmie Johnson (10)||200||1|
|OK, follow us here a minute. Johnson’s got two finishes outside the top 10 in the last four years from this stretch of the season forward. Can someone start engraving his name on the trophy already?|
|Needs to be closer than 149 points heading into his major advantage at Homestead.|
|The best positioned to catch Johnson over the next four weeks… and that’s not saying much.|
|Just like in ’06, Martinsville is where the title Chase all unraveled for Burton.|
|A fourth-place finish at Martinsville with four races left means going winless is a real possibility.|
|Surprisingly little fanfare this week, to the point he might need to wrestle a bear in Atlanta to get some attention.|
|Like a “B” student that can never get an “A,” Bowyer keeps throwing up those top-12 finishes to the tune of good, but not good enough.|
|Starting to look like he’s throwing in the towel for the year.|
|9||Matt Kenseth||113||T – 12|
|Consecutive intermediate tracks could make Kenseth a lot more comfortable about making the stage in New York.|
|He’s sure come a long way since his “Dart without Feathers” race two years ago at Martinsville.|
|Martinsville boost hopes to lead to surge into the top 10 in the final standings.|
|12||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||99||11|
|Junior drove conservatively enough to have a car he could race with at the end – and for once, it didn’t drop back at the finish.|
|Brother Kurt Busch was asking if he could end his miserable race at Martinsville and call it a day. Well, Kyle feels the same way about the Chase.|
|Has to be making Richard Childress feel pretty smart after the way he’s been running lately.|
|15||Martin Truex Jr.||44||NR|
|The potential merger with Petty Enterprises can’t be making Truex feel too good about signing that contract extension.|
|Dropped Out: Mark Martin (T-12), Kasey Kahne (15)|
|Also Receiving Votes: Brian Vickers (39), Jamie McMurray (35), Kasey Kahne (30), Mark Martin (24), Bobby Labonte (18), Elliott Sadler (13), AJ Allmendinger (13), Juan Pablo Montoya (11), David Reutimann (10), Paul Menard (10), Ryan Newman (9), Kurt Busch (8), Scott Riggs (7), Bill Elliott (5), Reed Sorenson (2)|
|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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