Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono

NASCAR went back to the tricky triangle in the Pocono mountains just six weeks after its last race there; and at first glance, it looked like not all that much had changed. Just like in June, Tony Stewart crashed in practice and started at the rear of the field in a backup car. Once again, rain washed out qualifying and even the race itself this August. Then, once the green flag finally flew on Monday (Aug. 3), there were a handful of long runs where the cars strung out and became a single-file parade… to the dismay of 80,000 fans in attendance.

But suddenly, over the final 50 laps Pocono started to pack some punch. Pit strategy and white-knuckle action were the norm and not the exception, with track position and caution flags causing positions to change hands faster than the blink of an eye. When the smoke cleared, it was Denny Hamlin riding high with an emotional win… but was it enough to vault him to the top of our rankings?

Meanwhile, Clint Bowyer’s surprising third-place finish got him to sneak back into our Power Rankings. But which guy did he knock out in the process? Read this week’s poll to find out which driver’s weekend was all wet and which one was bathed in sunshine by our experts.

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 (8) 198 1
OK, so starting 43rd twice might not be the best way to win both races at Pocono in a year.
2 Jimmie Johnson (2) 192 2
This team’s an expert at finding every loophole in the book, even when Chad’s not trying to cheat!
3 Jeff Gordon 162 3
I don’t know why he’s got back pain, because Johnson has been carrying Hendrick on his back for most of the last four years now.
4 Denny Hamlin 161 7
Some things just feel right. Rest in peace, Thelma Clark; your grandson did you proud Monday.
5 Juan Pablo Montoya 159 5
Ain’t nothing like a nosy reporter to fire Montoya up just before one of his best tracks: Watkins Glen.
6 Mark Martin 156 4
Hey, at least he didn’t finish second at Pocono again.
7 Kasey Kahne 141 6
Wow, who knew a 20-something kid would like to hang out with his Buds and drink beer? Rain fills suck.
8 Kurt Busch 131 9
Slow and steady used to win the championship; now, it relegates you to fourth place in points – almost 500 out of the lead.
9 Brian Vickers 110 10
If only Vickers had a pit crew who changed tires as good as he drove, Team Red Bull might have visited victory lane by now.
10 Carl Edwards 101 8
Remember when Edwards was the king at Pocono?
11 Ryan Newman 95 11
When’s the Army come back as a sponsor? Newman needs a little extra help late in races these last few weeks.
T-12 Matt Kenseth 80 13
Apparently, lobbying Crown Royal to sanction a gold paint scheme so that he’ll be comfortable in the car next year.
T-12 Clint Bowyer 80 NR
Finally looked like a team who remembered what they were doing back in February and March.
14 Greg Biffle 60 14
Happy that he wasn’t ever in consideration to lose his ride at Roush, especially as inconsistently as he’s been running this year.
15 David Reutimann 55 12
Officially 121 out of the Chase and, for all intents and purposes, out of it for another year.
Dropped Out: Joey Logano (15)
Also Receiving Votes: Marcos Ambrose (47), Joey Logano (38), Kyle Busch (32), Kevin Harvick (25), Sam Hornish Jr. (19), AJ Allmendinger (18), Elliott Sadler (12), Jeff Burton (11), Jamie McMurray (8), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (6), Martin Truex Jr. (3)
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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