Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2008 Ford 400 at Homestead

After 36 points-paying events, nine months and 14,493 miles of racing, the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is finally in the books. When the smoke cleared at Homestead, it was Jimmie Johnson winning his third consecutive championship, tying Cale Yarborough as the only drivers in history to accomplish that feat. Behind him, Carl Edwards finished second but won the most trophies, with a total of nine checkered flags captured throughout the year. In contrast, Jeff Gordon snapped his streak of at least one win per season at 14, while Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick were some of the other notables who got shut out of victory lane.

However, none of those drivers mentioned got left out of our final Power Rankings poll of the season. As you might expect, Johnson was unanimously voted number one on our list; but where did the other drivers mentioned wind up? Read on to see if your wheelman shone in the Florida sun or got sand kicked in his face in the final edition of our 2008 Power Rankings.

Rank Driver (First Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Jimmie Johnson (10) 200 1
Let’s see… he’s now won three consecutive titles, and missed out on two others by a combined point total of 98. He’s also got 40 wins at 33 years old. But yeah, let’s not consider him one of the best ever yet.
2 Carl Edwards 190 2
Won the most races in Sprint Cup and finished second – and also finished second in the Nationwide Series. Should’ve hopped in the No. 99 truck this year and gunned for Johnny Benson to go for the trifecta.
3 Kevin Harvick 166 3
Fourth in points small consolation for that zero in the win column.
4 Greg Biffle 154 4
Unless Bobby Labonte decides to try for a Truck Series title, Biffle’s still the biggest threat to win the championship in all three major series.
5 Jeff Gordon 150 6
A few years back, 100 wins for Gordon seemed like a given. Now, we wonder if he’s stuck at 81 for good.
6 Clint Bowyer 133 13
Hmmm. Back-to-back top-five seasons, won a race and the Nationwide Series championship – but Bowyer’s the one who gets to qualify on time for the first two months next year.
7 Denny Hamlin 115 T-10
Vito Pugliese from Grand Rapids, Mich. writes, “Hey FedEx, can you put together some commercials next year that are mildly amusing?”
8 Matt Kenseth 113 T-10
May be just tired of losing enough to voluntarily decide to be the team that Roush Fenway eliminates next year.
9 Jeff Burton 107 5
The guy that will sixth place you to death finishes sixth in points. Appropriate.
10 Kyle Busch 106 7
Even the 1991 Buffalo Bills think that was a pretty sorry effort in the Chase.
T-11 Jamie McMurray 105 T-8
Saved his job for another year; now, let’s see if he can actually do it all season long.
T-11 Tony Stewart 105 15
With a testing ban for 2009 and a new team, it’s a good thing Stewart got that gift at Talladega from NASCAR. That may be the last time we’ll see Smoke in victory lane for a while; but it won’t be the last time you see him standing on the window ledge hollering.
13 David Ragan 98 T-8
Top candidate to get his first career win in 2009… and his second… and maybe his third.
14 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 67 T-10
Wins a race, runs strong, makes the Chase – and everybody is still calling him a slacker. Funny; Junior still won more races than two of his three teammates combined. So there.
15 Casey Mears 65 NR
Finished the season strong, but will he return to the ranks of the average at RCR?
Dropped Out: Kurt Busch (14)
Also Receiving Votes: AJ Allmendinger (41), Kasey Kahne (38), Martin Truex Jr. (35), David Reutimann (24), Kurt Busch (23), Mark Martin (16), Travis Kvapil (12), Bobby Labonte (7), Elliott Sadler (5), Ryan Newman (5), Scott Riggs (5), Bill Elliott (3), Juan Pablo Montoya (3), Paul Menard (3), Brad Keselowski (3), Brian Vickers (2), Reed Sorenson (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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