Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Daytona 500

Like it or not, after just 380 miles the first race of the 2009 Sprint Cup season is officially in the books. Matt Kenseth was crowned the winner of just the fourth rain-shortened Daytona 500 in history, taking the lead one lap before the weather with a generous push from runner-up Kevin Harvick.

See also
Matt Kenseth Scoots in Front Just in Time to Win 2009 Daytona 500

But was that last-lap pass enough to leave Kenseth number one in the eyes of our staff this week? After all, Kyle Busch dominated the race, only to become an innocent victim of the day’s big wreck on lap 125. And where did AJ Allmendinger land after starting the year with a career-best third – driving for a team that doesn’t even know if it’ll exist two months from now?

Find these answers, and more, by examining our first Top 15 Power Rankings poll of the year. And remember, if you don’t like the way we’ve ranked the drivers, feel free to let us know about it in the comment section below! You never know if you might sway one of our voters for next week.

How the Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football – writers on 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 one batch of Power Rankings to serve to our fans.

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes ’08 Points Rank
1 Matt Kenseth (6) 169 11
Winning on a restrictor-plate race?! Showing emotion?! Who is this guy, and what did they do with the robot???!!!
2 Kyle Busch 148 3
Had the best car at Daytona, but got hosed because Brian Vickers and Dale Earnhardt Jr. decided to get into a bitch-slapping contest.
3 Tony Stewart 138 9
If you had told us prior to Speedweeks that Stewart’s team would crash three cars at Daytona and no one would end up dead, we’d have you committed. Just goes to show you unlimited cash fixes even the most violent temper.
4 Kevin Harvick (1) 131 4
Feels that races at Daytona should be no more than one lap.
5 Carl Edwards 129 2
Maybe after he teaches him how to do the backflip, Edwards can train the AFLAC duck to take care of Digger for all of us.
6 Jeff Gordon 124 7
You’d think a guy with his kind of cash could afford a better looking nanny.
7 Clint Bowyer 118 5
Screw the fourth-place finish! We’re still getting over that giant Hamburger Helper hand on Bowyer’s new car. That thing is creepy…
8 AJ Allmendinger 99 36
The first AJ to actually make Richard Petty look good, with a surprising third-place finish in the 500. No wonder Elliott Sadler sued.
9 David Ragan 98 13
Lost on the FOX announcers who were too preoccupied with making excuses for Earnhardt Jr.’s ill-advised maneuver was Ragan blowing through the dirt at 180 mph to miss the wreck. Now THAT was cool.
10 Mark Martin 90 28
The end of this race symbolizes Mark’s “can’t get a break” career. Now that he’s joined Hendrick, they’re the ones making the questionable pit calls while Jack Roush is winning the Daytona 500. Naturally.
11 Jimmie Johnson (2) 89 1
Dude, lose the beard. You look tougher carving yourself up with a knife trying to get a straw to fit through your firesuit.
12 Elliott Sadler 72 24
Sadler finished a very strong fifth on Sunday – but he was still feeling dejected afterwards, since he felt he had the race won. This could be a sign of a driver that definitely needs a win bad.
13 Kurt Busch 67 18
Despite getting caught up in the big wreck, Kurt still managed to post a 10th-place finish. Granted, his car wasn’t damaged too badly, but to come back through the field to 10th in only 20 green-flag laps with a wounded car is admirable.
14 Martin Truex Jr. 66 15
Kudos to a Jersey guy for taking the pole for the 500 and keeping the drive alive for EGR. Maybe he can loan us some coins for the Parkway.
15 Denny Hamlin 63 8
Forget the 26th in the 500. This guy was running as well as anyone before that big wreck. He’s going to be FedEx-ing some whoopins’ to the field in ’09…
Dropped Out: None
Also Receiving Votes: Greg Biffle 44, Michael Waltrip 33, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 29, Juan Pablo Montoya 28, David Reutimann 27, Reed Sorenson 23, Casey Mears 19, Brian Vickers 18, Jeff Burton 13, Jamie McMurray 13, Scott Riggs 9, Bobby Labonte 7, Bill Elliott 7, Ryan Newman 6, Marcos Ambrose 5, Kasey Kahne 4, Regan Smith 3, Jeremy Mayfield 1
Who Voted: Tom Bowles, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, Matt Taliaferro, Vito Pugliese, Bryan Davis Keith, Ren Jonsin, Phil Allaway and Kurt Allen Smith


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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