Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona

The tight packs and unpredictable nuances of Daytona’s draft moved several competitors around our Power Rankings this weekend. While one driver took a large hit thanks to an early wreck, another actually moved up in the standings… even though he was caught in a late-race melee and finished outside the top 10. That, in a nutshell, is what the wackiness of plate racing will do to voting experts trying to sort the innocent victim from the ugly perpetrators of those unavoidable multi-car crashes.

But all the wrangling back in the pack didn’t change one bit who’s firmly entrenched at the top. After his last-lap “pass” of Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart remains king of the rankings for yet another week. And as for everyone else? Read on to find out if your driver pulled the late-race slingshot to move up the poll – or is picking up the pieces of his battered car en route to falling down the ladder after the Big One.

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 (10) 200 1
Having the King blow off that airhorn in every other driver’s motorhome the night before the race seems to have finally paid off.
2 Jimmie Johnson 187 2
Johnson avoiding all the plate wrecks? No way! It’s not like he ever has any racing luck or anything.
3 Jeff Gordon 174 3
Pepsi driver Gordon wishes that the Independence Weekend classic would revert back to its old name – the Pepsi 400 – for the sake of his sponsor and his performance. His two finishes since it changed to the Coke Zero 400? 30th and 28th.
4 Kurt Busch 166 4
Two is the perfect number for Busch to run at Daytona, the track where he’s always the bridesmaid but never the bride.
5 Carl Edwards 148 5
Looks like a little Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki was all the pit crew needed to get back on track.
6 Juan Pablo Montoya 134 7
That’s right, Montoya moved up a spot further into Chase contention. Don’t look now, but this thing is looking like it just might happen.
7 Denny Hamlin 129 12
Learning from his teammate how to lead a bunch of laps and not close the deal.
8 Kasey Kahne 128 8
Can you finish behind someone when you’re actually underneath them?
9 Kyle Busch 127 11
Once again proved that turning right on an oval is not a good idea.
10 Mark Martin 97 6
When the cleanest driver in NASCAR makes contact with the second-cleanest driver in the sport, who loses? The one who is also the driver with the worst luck in NASCAR.
11 Greg Biffle 95 9
Former winner of the race doesn’t mean squat when you’re fifth out of five for your organization.
12 Ryan Newman 73 10
Maybe he can get Kentucky Grilled Chicken on the hood for Talladega.
13 Matt Kenseth 71 14
Well, it wasn’t a victory, but it was a top 10 – which certainly helps his cause the way his team has been running as of late.
14 David Reutimann 62 13
No rain and a 36th-place finish? Just another day at the office for Reutimann.
T-15 Joey Logano 59 15
After a rough start, he’s gone from the edges of the Top 35 to challenging for the top 20 in points.
T-15 Marcos Ambrose 59 NR
Who knew getting taught by kangaroos how to “bounce around” in the draft would pay off!
Dropped Out: None
Also Receiving Votes: Clint Bowyer (50), Brian Vickers (37), Jamie McMurray (27), Jeff Burton (26), Elliott Sadler (22), Sam Hornish Jr. (13), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (8), Regan Smith (3), Brad Keselowski (2), Reed Sorenson (2), Casey Mears (1)
Who Voted: Thomas Bowles, Ren Jonsin, Mike Neff, Tony Lumbis, Doug Turnbull, 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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