With NASCAR’s off week in full swing, it presented an opportunity for the Frontstretch experts to do something a little different. Instead of grading the Cup guys, we took a look at those drivers who often get shunned from the spotlight these days, the drivers exclusive to the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series desperate to make a name for themselves. These divisions are filled with established veterans and young guns mixed together to provide a cornucopia of driving talent.
And since you never know when a Cup ride will become available, we thought it’s high time to figure out who’s proved himself most worthy of filling the spot as of late.
Read on to see if your favorite non-Cup driver made the list in this special edition of the Power Rankings.
How the Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does their power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football – writers on our 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 the Power Rankings from our dedicated staff.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP-15 NON-CUP DRIVERS: AS OF APRIL 15, 2009|
|Rank||Driver (First-Place Votes)||Votes||Career Cup Starts|
|1||Brad Keselowski (2)||112||4|
|It’s not a matter of if the JR Motorsports driver is headed to Cup next year… it’s with who.|
|Looking more like a potential star every race.|
|3||Todd Bodine (2)||76||231|
|Continues to ruffle the feathers of his rivals – much to the delight of the fans – but will his team have enough sponsorship to continue?|
|Made rim riding popular when everyone else was afraid of it.|
|Hasn’t gotten on that winning roll yet, but expect that to change real soon.|
|He’s been the best of the Nationwide-only drivers for years.|
|7||Ron Hornaday Jr.||59||45|
|The 2007 Craftsman Truck Series champ is putting together all the patchwork sponsorship 2008 champ Johnny Benson wishes he could have.|
|The wily old veteran continues to get the job done.|
|Apparently, acting as Dale Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t his only talent.|
|10||Scott Lagasse Jr.||42||0|
|Another former CGRFS driver succeeding with other teams.|
|Sprint Cup’s super sub continues to showcase his true talent in the Truck Series.|
|Finishing in the top 10 with a truck he maintains in a garage with three of his buddies. Amazing.|
|T-13||Johnny Benson (1)||38||274|
|Done amazing things for years in inferior equipment. If he could get some “real” rides, imagine how good he’d be.|
|Nationwide start-and-parks aside, he’s a good driver deserving of a sponsor to continue on in the Truck Series.|
|Let’s put it this way: the most starts ever in the Nationwide Series didn’t happen because he sucks.|
|Also Receiving Votes: Michael Annett (27), Tony Raines (24), Stephen Leicht (23), JR Fitzpatrick (22), Kelly Bires (21), Michael McDowell (20), Dennis Setzer (20), Travis Kvapil (20), Rick Crawford (17), Danny O’Quinn Jr. (16), Steve Wallace (14), Mike Wallace (14), Kenny Wallace (14), Jeremy Clements (14), Marc Davis (13), Scott Wimmer (12), Max Papis (10), Brian Scott (10), Erik Darnell (10), DJ Kennington (9), James Buescher (8), Morgan Shepherd (8), Colin Braun (7), Donny Lia (6), Peyton Sellers (5), Brandon Whitt (4), Bryan Silas (3), TJ Bell (3), Mark McFarland (3), Joe Nemechek (2), Johnny Sauter (2), Ricky Carmichael (2), Eric McClure (1)|
|Who Voted: Tom Bowles, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, Doug Turnbull, Vito Pugliese and Phil Allaway|
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.