Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta

The aged surface of Atlanta Motor Speedway offered up multi-groove racing from the drop of the green flag that also yielded some bizarre events, with Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards both having freak problems that knocked them out of contention. Tony Stewart also had another off weekend, which cost him some of his first-place votes again this week. But was it enough to knock him out of the top spot?

And while the Chase bubble drivers jockey for position, how many of them were able to keep their place in this week’s poll? Read the latest Power Rankings to find out who’s in the best shape heading into the final race of the regular season at Richmond Saturday night… and who needs Pep Boys to come straight from the Atlanta race to their Cup garage for repairs.

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 (5) 191 1
If the people behind him in the standings were running better, he might fall out of the top spot, but not when the next three are struggling, too.
2 Denny Hamlin (2) 173 3
One of only four drivers on track to make every Chase they’ve attempted. But is Hamlin’s team really good enough to win one?
3 Jeff Gordon (1) 165 T-6
He may be second in points, but is anyone really thinking he has a bonafide shot at the championship?
4 Jimmie Johnson 163 2
Displayed evidence of those typical experimental summer setups at Atlanta; you know, the ones which fail miserably that this team employs after locking in a Chase spot every year.
5 Kasey Kahne 142 10
Don’t read too much into Sunday night. A win leading into the Chase is just another tease from a team that can’t get it done when the big trophy is on the line.
T-6 Mark Martin 139 T-6
Martin could still miss the Chase and people will lose their minds if he and Busch both miss it with eight wins between them.
T-6 Juan Pablo Montoya 139 9
Most people don’t think that someone can win a title without winning a race, but Montoya could very well prove everyone wrong.
8 Brian Vickers (2) 136 4
In the words of a sappy ‘80s song… Take… this broken axle, and learn to fly again, learn to live free… The book of Chase will open up and let us in….
9 Carl Edwards 132 5
The one time that NASCAR doesn’t throw a caution for “debris” and look what happens.
10 Kurt Busch 101 8
With that type of HANS device throw, the U.S. Track and Field team better take a serious look at Kurt for the discus in 2012.
11 Matt Kenseth 93 11
How can anyone even entertain he thought that Kenseth will miss the Chase after that effort on Sunday night?
12 Greg Biffle 89 14
Does it feel weird praying for an 11th-place finish?
13 Ryan Newman 85 T-12
The only thing that can be making Newman feel comfortable right now is that there are three cars between himself and missing the Chase.
14 Clint Bowyer 79 15
One of those weird poll anomalies we just can’t explain. This much we know: Kevin Harvick didn’t give him any votes.
15 David Reutimann 65 NR
A guy with nothing to lose entering Richmond… so does that mean he wrecks Vickers, Kyle Busch and Kenseth to make it in? Now that would be TNT knows drama.
Dropped Out: Kyle Busch (T-12)
Also Receiving Votes: Kyle Busch (59), Marcos Ambrose (32), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (28), Joey Logano (22), Kevin Harvick (21), Sam Hornish Jr. (11), Jeff Burton (9), Casey Mears (8), Robby Gordon (5), Bobby Labonte (4), AJ Allmendinger (3), Bill Elliott (2), Martin Truex Jr. (2), David Stremme (1), David Gilliland (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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