Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Sharpie 500 at Bristol

The new banking at Bristol, along with the new car, has bred a new form of racing at the old bullring. Single-file bump-and-runs have been replaced by side-by-side competition, with wrecks at the finish line replaced by the type of winning maneuvers you’d be more likely to see at a track like Atlanta or even (gasp) California.

But no matter how you feel about the place now, there’s no arguing the lone driver who likes it better than anyone else. Leading 446 of 1,000 laps en route to pulling the season sweep, Kyle Busch is clearly in a league of his own right now at the short track in Thunder Valley. But while the victory allowed him to work back into the rankings this week… just how high did our experts allow him to climb? And were Tony Stewart‘s electrical problems enough to “shorten” his reign atop the Power Rankings?

Check out this week’s poll to discover where everyone stands before they all pack up and hit the open road for their fourth and final off week of the season.

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 (6) 191 1
Hearing the Racing Electronics sponsorship talks have been put on hold.
2 Jimmie Johnson (1) 175 2
This team tries so hard each year to use up all their bad luck before the Chase that they sometimes even resort to manufacturing it themselves.
3 Denny Hamlin (2) 174 4
Seems like the change from FedEx 2Day to FedEx Priority Overnight is working wonders for his speed on the racetrack.
4 Brian Vickers (1) 143 6
Simple strategy for the final four races: survive Bristol and Richmond, win Michigan and Atlanta to make the top 12. So far, so good.
5 Carl Edwards 140 5
Would love Bristol’s next repaving project to magically expand it to 1.5 miles in length.
T-6 Jeff Gordon 138 3
With Gordon’s back problems, it makes us wonder if it was the car or the driver that faded late in the race on the circuit’s most physically demanding track.
T-6 Mark Martin 138 11
How nuts would the crowd at Bristol have gone had he punted the No. 18 to take the win? Pop Tarts and Corn Flakes would have rained down from 10 stories high.
8 Kurt Busch 131 10
What a rough night for him. Busch finishing outside the top five at Bristol is the equivalent to blowing an engine anywhere else and coming home dead last.
9 Juan Pablo Montoya 113 7
One of these days, the crew is going to believe them when Montoya tells them what is wrong with the car.
10 Kasey Kahne 101 8
Bristol on the verge of giving him nightmares on why he missed the Chase for a second straight year.
11 Matt Kenseth 95 12
Doing just enough to stay inside the Chase but not enough to take himself off the bubble.
T-12 Kyle Busch 94 NR
Has led 446 laps at Thunder Valley, but needs the season to be far more than about winning Bristol in order for him to rise up and have a chance at the title.
T-12 Ryan Newman 94 14
Still not looking like a title threat, but hey, at least his radio worked while the boss didn’t!
14 Greg Biffle 86 13
Reflecting the team’s “hit or miss” type of season, Atlanta could either lock the Biff in the Chase or torpedo his playoff hopes.
15 Clint Bowyer 73 9
Nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, kiss Chase hopes, goodbye… nah nah nah nah, R-C-R sucks, needs a big change, don’t know why.
Dropped Out: David Reutimann (15)
Also Receiving Votes: Marcos Ambrose (66), David Reutimann (37), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (37), Casey Mears (24), Joey Logano (17), Sam Hornish Jr. (14), Jeff Burton (8), Jamie McMurray (3), Bill Elliott (2), Martin Truex Jr. (2), AJ Allmendinger (2), Regan Smith (1), Kevin Harvick (1)
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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