Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Crown Royal 400 at Richmond

Some retro short-track racing in Virginia provided a lot of high-powered action Saturday night, with the end result a record 15 caution flags and a late-race pit strategy that left the standings jumbled all the way up until the checkered flag. That unpredictability factored right into our own Power Rankings this week, as 14 out of the 15 positions changed hands after a number of gutsy performances.

Among the adjustments from our experts are a new, surprising driver in the top spot – along with several staples of the top 15 falling out in what’s been a season of parity thus far. And which struggling Daytona 500 champ is slumping so badly, he’s down to just one top-20 vote? Read on to find out, along with discovering where your driver was toasted in our Power Rankings following the Crown Royal 400 at Richmond.

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 Tony Stewart (3) 167 3
Hard to throw a temper tantrum when both your cars have scored more points the last five races than anyone else.
2 Jeff Gordon (3) 164 2
Arthritis? Really? It just seems like just yesterday he was cruising around in stone-washed jeans as a rookie, with that gorgeous mullet and prepubescent mustache to boot.
3 Kurt Busch 160 1
Already has just a third of the wins his younger brother has. Next week, it could very well be a fourth – and his brother’s making fun of his driving style, too. Maybe they’ll wreck each other at the All-Star Race again… that was fun.
4 Kyle Busch (2) 159 8
Taking a decidedly different approach to the Chase pursuit than the No. 48. Kyle Busch = The Anti-Johnson.
5 Jimmie Johnson 132 4
The No. 48 entering a springtime slump? Now THAT’s the Jimmie Johnson we know and love.
6 Jeff Burton 120 9
Talk all you want about Clint Bowyer – Burton is still the leader at RCR and the model of consistency.
7 Denny Hamlin 117 6
Apparently, Tony Eury Jr. snuck over to the No. 11 pit before that fateful stop on Saturday night.
8 Mark Martin (1) 115 10
19th to fifth in 60 laps after getting spun, clipped and T-boned. Mike Joy likes to give drivers really bad nicknames, so here’s ours: Mark “Man’s Game” Martin.
9 Ryan Newman 109 13
When Newman’s good at a short track, you KNOW his team is clicking on all cylinders.
10 Carl Edwards 101 5
Could at least take pride in the fact he finished ahead of Dale Jr. Oh, wait.
11 Greg Biffle 87 7
Wonder how long until the No. 16 bunch airbrushes some braces to the grille of that 3M Ford Fusion? Here’s another idea: why don’t they strap orthodontic headgear onto Biff’s helmet.
12 Clint Bowyer 74 11
May be trying to be Burton – but he’s suddenly not there yet.
13 Juan Pablo Montoya 64 NR
Talk smack all you want about the Earnhardt-Ganassi-Sabates organization, but this team could make the Chase and shock everyone.
14 Matt Kenseth 58 T-15
He may be in the Chase right now, but the way this year started off, he’s got to be disappointed with how things are on the verge of falling apart.
15 Marcos Ambrose 57 NR
Kurt Busch entered Richmond with the series points lead, Kyle Busch won the race – but Bush’s Baked Beans had themselves a nice finish as well.
Dropped Out: David Reutimann (12), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (14), Brad Keselowski (T-15)
Also Receiving Votes: David Reutimann (53), Brian Vickers (32), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (26), Sam Hornish Jr. (24), Kasey Kahne (19), Jamie McMurray (17), Casey Mears (16), Joey Logano (6), Martin Truex Jr. (5), Reed Sorenson (4), Brad Keselowski (3), Kevin Harvick (1)
Who Voted: Thomas Bowles, Ren Jonsin, Mike Neff, Tony Lumbis, Matt Taliaferro, Vito Pugliese, Bryan Davis Keith, Phil Allaway and Kurt 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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