Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Auto Club 500 at Fontana

While many people argued that Matt Kenseth stole or lucked into his Daytona 500 win, no one can deny he was truly worthy of winning the Auto Club 500 at Fontana this past weekend. That victory solidified Kenseth’s position at the top of the rankings, as he’s the first person since Jeff Gordon in 1997 to start a Sprint Cup season two for two.

But after Kenseth and his “Killer Bees,” our Frontstretch Power Rankings were as fluid as you might expect for just the second week of the season. The competition may be considered boring at California, but it was anything but when you look at the many changes in our Top 15 this week. Plenty of people moved up, down, and just plain off the list after 500 miles of racing out west.

So, read on to see if your driver kept from falling asleep at the wheel, or if he won the Oscar for “Most Precipitous Fall From Grace” in this week’s Power Rankings.

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 Last Week
1 Matt Kenseth (9) 198 1
Fool me once, you’re an upset winner. Fool me twice, the guy with the name we can’t pronounce just made you a bona fide title contender.
2 Jeff Gordon 170 6
Unfortunately, Jeff can’t spin Kenseth out from the top spot of the rankings, like he did to him at Chicagoland back in 2006.
3 Kyle Busch 165 2
Busch is now on pace to win 18 Nationwide Series races this year. Gosh, we love Week 2.
4 Tony Stewart 158 3
Which makes Stewart happier: A great start to the season with his new team, or the fact that he now gets free Burger King whenever he wants?
5 Carl Edwards 143 5
Forgot to fly a little passenger called momentum with him to the start of 2009.
6 Greg Biffle 127 NR
Biffle must have 3M adhesive on his front bumper because it’s sure gotten stuck to the back of plenty of cars this year.
7 Jimmie Johnson 126 11
Looked amazingly average at Cali, so you can bet that he’ll be up front at Vegas this weekend.
8 Kurt Busch 124 13
Someone, somewhere told Kurt Busch it’s a contract year.
9 Clint Bowyer 106 7
The class of the RCR stable right now – not to mention he owns the longest streak without a DNF.
10 David Ragan 102 9
Winning the Oscar for “Best Packaging Store Stock Car Through Two Races in Cup.”
11 Denny Hamlin 97 15
At least he’s beating Logano.
12 Michael Waltrip 76 NR
Waltrip has a knack for being a chokemaster – but you can’t ignore him being two for two in the good runs category so far this season.
13 Kevin Harvick (1) 71 4
The first DNF in over two years means the “Turtle” Herman Beam can rest in peace… until Bowyer breaks his record in May.
14 Juan Pablo Montoya 65 NR
Has anyone noticed he’s 10th in points? We did.
15 AJ Allmendinger 55 8
The ‘Dinger learned a hard lesson about lugnuts this weekend, but remains No. 1 over at RPM… for now.
Dropped Out: Mark Martin (10), Elliott Sadler (12), Martin Truex Jr. (14)
Also Receiving Votes: David Reutimann (51), Brian Vickers (51), Mark Martin (40), Jamie McMurray (34), Elliott Sadler (28), Reed Sorenson (21), Martin Truex Jr. (19), Kasey Kahne (17), Casey Mears (14), Marcos Ambrose (14), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (13), Bobby Labonte (7), Travis Kvapil (4), Regan Smith (3), David Stremme (1)
Who Voted: Tom Bowles, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, Matt Taliaferro, Vito Pugliese, Bryan Davis Keith, Ren Jonsin, Phil Allaway, Kurt Allen Smith 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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