Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta

Four weeks into the season, the top of the Sprint Cup standings are still a long way from getting sorted out. But after everyone got a chance to take a deep breath this past weekend after Atlanta, it’s easy to notice a few trends starting to take shape. Once again, the multi-car giants of Roush, Hendrick and Gibbs sit atop the standings, preparing to be the heavyweights ready to duel once more for the Sprint Cup title.

But the drivers leading the charge from each organization aren’t necessarily the ones you would have expected a month ago. Jeff Gordon looks like the Wonderboy of old, Matt Kenseth has the magic of Blickensderfer and Kyle Busch is getting a push from his brother?

Such has been the rather strange beginning to the 2009 Cup season. To see where your driver sits on the Power Rankings ladder, read on as our experts try and sort out the contenders from the pretenders.

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 Jeff Gordon (10) 219 2
1993: First year of the Clinton administration – Rookie of the Year Title. 2001: First year of the “W” administration – Sprint Cup Title. 2009: First year of the Obama administration – ??? It’s sure looking like the trend will continue so far.
2 Kurt Busch (1) 193 10
His 2009 is practically the opposite of his 2008, so far. Maybe that’s what inspired the victory lap.
3 Carl Edwards 189 7
Still searching for the magic from the beginning of last year… but looks to be getting closer.
4 Clint Bowyer 185 5
Apparently, what Richard Childress didn’t tell us is he was taking Bowyer away from the “A” team on the No. 07 while stacking the No. 33 with every secret weapon in his arsenal.
5 Kyle Busch 180 1
Learning their lesson from 2008, the No. 18 team is spreading their poor runs throughout the season instead of saving them all for the Chase.
6 Matt Kenseth 169 3
Failed to win two races in a row; has Blickensderfer lost his touch?
7 Tony Stewart 148 6
Has three top-eight finishes this year. That’s a nice way of saying he’s finished eighth three times.
8 Brian Vickers 141 11
So much for the curse of wrecking both a NASCAR champion and the sport’s Most Popular Driver in one shot.
9 Kevin Harvick 122 13
Think how well he’d be doing without engine gunk.
10 Jimmie Johnson 121 9
“What are you doing down there in 13th, Jimmie?”
“Biding my time before I destroy everybody, Chad.”
11 Greg Biffle 102 4
Confusing the 2009 NASCAR season with the 2009 Demolition Derby.
12 Kasey Kahne 99 NR
Has to be just a little jealous that other Dodge teams get to run the new engine while he gets one from the local dollar store.
13 David Reutimann 82 8
Telling Reutimann that he’s probably not going to be in the top 12 come September is like telling a little kid that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren’t real.
14 Denny Hamlin 78 NR
Has said that he wants to be considered the senior driver at Joe Gibbs Racing. I guess that means if the three of them have to rent a car, they have to put it in his name.
15 Jeff Burton 57 14
Hey, he’s ahead of Casey Mears.
Dropped Out: Bobby Labonte (12), Michael Waltrip (15)
Also Receiving Votes: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (56), Jamie McMurray (47), Martin Truex Jr. (42), Michael Waltrip (25), AJ Allmendinger (22), Mark Martin (9), Bobby Labonte (6), David Gilliland (4), Juan Pablo Montoya (4), David Stremme (4), Elliott Sadler (3), David Ragan (3)
Who Voted: Thomas Bowles, Ren Jonsin, Mike Neff, Tony Lumbis, Matt Taliaferro, Vito Pugliese, Bryan Davis Keith, Phil Allaway, Kurt 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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