Phoenix’s Saturday night showdown may have been Mark Martin‘s time to shine, but it didn’t mean much for the rest of the Sprint Cup competition. Most of the racing behind him was tame at best, with few top drivers encountering problems that left them dropping off our Power Rankings list.
However, Jeff Gordon‘s loose lug nut issue was enough to loosen his grip on the top spot in our latest poll – the number of first-place votes for him dropped significantly amongst our Frontstretch experts. Was that enough to cause a change at No. 1? And just how far did Martin’s win make him rise? Read on to find out in this week’s edition of our 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.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP-15 POWER RANKINGS: APRIL 22, 2009|
|Rank||Driver (First-Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Jeff Gordon (4)||204||1|
|0-for-1 sounds a whole lot better than 0-for-46 now, doesn’t it?|
|2||Tony Stewart (4)||188||3|
|Two in a row at Talladega would be a very appropriate way to get a first win for his new team.|
|3||Jimmie Johnson (3)||187||2|
|Currently ranked second in points and first in creepy facial hair.|
|4||Kurt Busch (1)||168||4|
|Suddenly looking like the Kurt Busch from 2002-2005. Are Jimmy Fennig and Pat Tryson pulling some Cirano De Bergerac routine with the elder Busch?|
|Maybe Busch is saving up for the Chase this year instead of running great all season only to suck out loud at the end.|
|If it wasn’t for his paint scheme, would we have even seen him Saturday night?|
|All the sweet onion chicken teriyakis in the world couldn’t get his car to handle through the center of the turn.|
|Tops at RCR and looking like a surefire Chase contender, but not going to win the championship at this pace.|
|If he’s the franchise driver, then his owner and teammate Michael Waltrip is a fry cook.|
|How appropriate that Mark picks up his first Hendrick victory at a place named after a resurrection.|
|“Working class hero” according to NASCAR Illustrated putting together workmanlike performances to return to Chase contention.|
|It used to be “This Bud’s For You.” Now it’s “This Bud’s For Kahne to make it through a frustrating plane ride home… and this one… and this one….”|
|About the only time you’ve seen him on TV this year was when he went to victory lane Saturday night to congratulate Martin for winning – but here he is lurking. In the bushes. In a Caterpillar.|
|Remember back when he won the first two races in a row to start the season? We don’t, either…|
|Can’t quite tell where Vickers is heading these days. Lately, his team has been walking the tightrope over both the abyss and being totally awesome. And by “Totally Awesome,” we mean “Totally Sweet….”|
|Dropped Out: Kevin Harvick (T-15), Juan Pablo Montoya (T-15)|
|Also Receiving Votes: Ryan Newman (53), Juan Pablo Montoya (50), Kevin Harvick (47), Marcos Ambrose (29), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (28), Martin Truex Jr. (24), Jamie McMurray (22), Sam Hornish Jr. (12), AJ Allmendinger (11), David Stremme (8), Michael Waltrip (2), Reed Sorenson (2), Bobby Labonte (1), David Ragan (1), Elliott Sadler (1), Paul Menard (1)|
|Who Voted: Thomas Bowles, Ren Jonsin, Mike Neff, Tony Lumbis, Matt Taliaferro, Vito Pugliese, Bryan Davis Keith, Phil Allaway, Kurt Smith, Doug Turnbull and Danny Peters|
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.