Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond

The final weekend in the race for the Chase saw plenty of playoff-worthy drivers put their best foot forward at Richmond. Brian Vickers slipped in, Kyle Busch fell just short… and there were a slew of others in between who made it clear they’ll spend this fall fighting for a season championship.

The shuffling of several drivers up front meant the points weren’t the only place where there was a major shakeup this week. Tony Stewart tumbled hard out of his top perch in our Power Rankings… but who stepped up to replace him? Better yet, which non-Chasers are already breaking through as they try to play the role of spoiler… including a driver who made this week’s poll for the first time since early Spring? Check this week’s Power Rankings to see who recorded a hit and who was completely out of tune following the Chevy Rock & Roll 400.

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 Denny Hamlin (7) 189 2
Using words like “dangerous” and “his house?” Car stealers, you better watch out! Ain’t nobody stealing Denny’s Lexus a second time.
2 Jeff Gordon 170 3
He may not have them shaking in their boots just yet, but his team is making more right calls than the wrong ones lately.
T-3 Tony Stewart (1) 169 1
Endorsing Whoppers, Old Spice, Armor All, giant turkey legs, Russian models and doing the impossible.
T-3 Mark Martin (1) 169 T – 6
Some drivers quip the Chase might give them a heart attack. For Mark, at 50? That’s a real concern.
5 Jimmie Johnson 149 4
Whatcha doin’, Jimmie? Pretending we suck before slamming the field into submission, Chad! Duh.
6 Brian Vickers 144 8
Knew what had to be done and got it done; now, let’s see what he can do running with the Big Boys.
7 Kasey Kahne 129 5
Ain’t no better way to fire up a driver than to pair him up with a manufacturer that wanted his head on a silver platter.
8 Kurt Busch 120 10
Who will be the next crew chief to hear the best rash of profanities rivaled only by R. Lee Ermy in Full Metal Jacket?
9 Juan Pablo Montoya 119 T – 6
Points racing has suited him well, but can he start battling for wins when the Cup is on the line?
10 Carl Edwards 115 9
It was reported Ford officials joked the biggest hurdle for the new engines is that the old one is so good. We’re sure that winless Edwards fails to see the humor in that.
11 Greg Biffle 111 12
Went to put on his Chase glass slipper, only to find the Hamlin thieves had come by and stole it.
12 Kyle Busch 106 NR
Charm offensive tempered by the fact that it’s kind of hard to be arrogant when you’re 13th in points.
13 Ryan Newman 105 13
Not his first rodeo, but the first one on a horse that has the pedigree to win.
14 Clint Bowyer 62 14
Sixth place was too little, too late, and was just a tease of what he had once been this season.
15 Kevin Harvick 51 NR
Suddenly finds himself one of just two RCR cars to have a pulse. Too bad his hopes for making the Chase died oh, about four months before he came alive.
Dropped Out: Matt Kenseth (11), David Reutimann (15)
Also Receiving Votes: David Reutimann (50), Matt Kenseth (47), Marcos Ambrose (28), Joey Logano (21), Sam Hornish Jr. (20), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (11), Jeff Burton (10), Casey Mears (4), Martin Truex Jr. (2), David Gilliland (2), Reed Sorenson (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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