Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 CARFAX 400 at Michigan

A fuel-mileage race at Michigan? Who would have guessed it? Seriously, as expected Sunday’s 400-mile affair in the Irish Hills left us counting drops of Sunoco gasoline to see who was going to make it to the finish line first. And just like any stock car event decided by fuel strategy, those final few laps led to a last-second shuffle as several contenders simply ran out of gas – both literally and figuratively – while heading to the checkered flag.

That left several others with not enough speed but just the right strategy finishing up front, with those underdog performances leading to a big shakeup in the standings this week. A total of 12 of the 15 spots changed hands, including one Chase bubble driver breaking in as he makes a last-ditch effort to get over the hump and into the playoffs before it’s too late. Read this week’s Power Rankings to find out who else ended up with a few extra drops in the tank, rising up our weekly poll instead of running out on fumes and falling back.

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 (7) 195 1
Who would have guessed back in February Stewart would MAKE the Chase, let alone be the first man to clinch a spot?
2 Jimmie Johnson 172 2
“What are you doing, Jimmie?” “Running out of fuel again, Chad.”
3 Jeff Gordon (1) 170 5
Six runner-up finishes this season? Looks like someone’s a little too used to being the bridesmaid instead of the bride after years of playing second fiddle to Johnson.
4 Denny Hamlin 163 3
Eeyore scored another top 10 as he gets ready for the Chase. With his luck, he might make a strong run for second.
5 Carl Edwards 156 8
The fastest Ford heading into the Chase in September, but could he also be the only one?
6 Brian Vickers (2) 144 10
Go ahead, insert your favorite “Red Bull gives you wings” joke here.
7 Juan Pablo Montoya 133 4
If you’re still waiting for him to stumble and fall out of the top 12, you can stop. It isn’t going to happen.
8 Kasey Kahne 131 7
Wasn’t he supposed to be in a Toyota or driving for someone else by now?
9 Clint Bowyer 117 11
A poem for Clint… it’s called “Desperation Childress.”
To get off the bubble and into the Chase,
Bowyer must win him a Bristol night race.
10 Kurt Busch 110 6
This just goes to show you what happens when Miller Lite and UPS drivers mix, it’s just not a good result.
11 Mark Martin 105 9
We thought they’d be fine if they didn’t stub their toe in the last month before the Chase. But over the past three weeks, those toes are suddenly looking stubby.
12 Matt Kenseth 90 15
A pro at getting exactly the points and finish he needs to contend… but sometimes, you wonder, “How in the hell did he do that?”
13 Greg Biffle 75 12
Another disappointing weekend for Biffle has to have him doubting his footing in the Chase.
14 Ryan Newman 68 14
Not locked in like his teammate, but Newman’s more comfortable than the majority of the Roush Fenway crew around him.
15 David Reutimann 52 NR
Over 100 points out with three races left, two rainout wins probably wouldn’t even be enough to save him now.
Dropped Out: Marcos Ambrose (13)
Also Receiving Votes: Joey Logano (43), Kyle Busch (40), Sam Hornish Jr. (30), Marcos Ambrose (26), Casey Mears (25), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (21), Kevin Harvick (17), Jeff Burton (7), AJ Allmendinger (5), Bill Elliott (3), Martin Truex Jr. (2)
Who Voted: Thomas Bowles, Kevin Birge, 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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