Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2008 Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix

The desert Southwest held a couple of different surprises for the racers this weekend. Rain and gale force winds threw a lot at the teams; but when all was said and done, it was status quo for the No. 48. Jimmie Johnson led the most laps and won the race at Phoenix handily, all but securing this year’s title heading to Homestead.

That dominance was also enough to put almost all of our panel votes behind the points leader, putting him securely in the top spot again this week. But with one week to go, there was quite a bit of movement behind him. Read on to see if your driver was cool and collected or caught in the cactus on Rattlesnake Hill in this week’s Power Rankings.

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Jimmie Johnson (9) 199 1
In order to make next year’s Chase more interesting, NASCAR is considering implementing the rule that requires the defending champ to race blindfolded for the final 10 events.
2 Carl Edwards (1) 191 2
How eight wins (possibly nine) can be considered a disappointment is beyond us, but it also bodes well for this team in 2009.
3 Kevin Harvick 156 6
Perhaps the most consistent Chaser never to get noticed. You can tell he has spent a lot of time with Jeff Burton over the past few years.
4 Greg Biffle 153 3
A stronger version of Chase “Cinderella” than Clint Bowyer; but in the end, the glass slipper still broke.
5 Jeff Burton 131 9
Top tenning them to death isn’t good enough when you’re chasing Knaus and Johnson.
6 Jeff Gordon 122 4
Think about this one: Barack Obama was in his first year of serving on the board of the Joyce Foundation and the Woods Fund of Chicago when Gordon started his consecutive win streak in Cup.
7 Kyle Busch 120 10
Actively petitioning the federal government for a Chase Bailout.
T-8 David Ragan 113 8
Is there a “From Dart Without Feathers to Driver of the Year” Award anywhere in the sports world?
T-8 Jamie McMurray 113 12
Grabbing the most “where did that come from?” looks from anyone in the garage these days.
T-10 Matt Kenseth 111 5
Finally shifted from the punter to the punted for a change.
T-10 Denny Hamlin 111 11
Despite the tough economy, the FedEx car still delivers when needed.
T-10 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 111 14
Strong all day, but lost spots at the end; have ya heard this story before?
13 Clint Bowyer 108 7
Sobering up off Jack just in time to switch to Cheerios for 2009.
14 Kurt Busch 87 NR
Hoping to get some castoff cars from Johnson by sucking up to him unabashedly.
15 Tony Stewart 67 13
Finished one lap down, but ahead of Ryan Newman. 2009 will look like that quite often.
Dropped Out: Martin Truex Jr. (15)
Also Receiving Votes: Casey Mears (35), AJ Allmendinger (31), Mark Martin (27), David Reutimann (24), Kasey Kahne (20), Martin Truex Jr. (19), Elliott Sadler (10), Juan Pablo Montoya (10), Bobby Labonte (8), Marcos Ambrose (7), Brian Vickers (6), Ryan Newman (3), Paul Menard (3), Scott Riggs (2), Reed Sorenson (1), Sam Hornish Jr. (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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