Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Sylvania 300 at Loudon

The first Chase race is finally behind us, with Mark Martin earning his season-high fifth win of the season in Loudon, N.H. It was one of the wilder races in the history of the 1-mile oval, and that’s reflected in a poll in which 11 of the top 13 drivers swapped spots this week. But while Martin’s victory was good enough to hold onto the points lead, did he climb back to the top of our list with last week’s Frontstretch leader, Denny Hamlin, finishing second on Sunday?

And while Juan Pablo Montoya in third roughed up half the field, was that aggressive attitude a turnoff for voters deciding whether he fits the bill of this year’s Chase Cinderella? You’ll have to read below to find out, but the votes came in a whole lot closer than you might have thought.

Looking a little further back, there’s plenty of drivers out of the playoffs but fighting to be a part of our list, with Kyle Busch, David Reutimann and Clint Bowyer among those looking to spoil a poll party filled with championship contenders. But which RCR driver’s poor finish cost him a spot on our list? Read this week’s rankings to see whose bulbs burned bright and whose burned out in this week’s Power Rankings.

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 (4) 186 1
Don’t be surprised if those extra five points he landed at the end of the race come back to help him in Homestead.
2 Mark Martin (5) 185 T-3
That Hendrick four-leaf clover is so powerful, not even mystery debris can stop him.
3 Jimmie Johnson 158 5
Fourth at New Hampshire to start his bid for four straight. Sounds like a very familiar story.
4 Jeff Gordon 156 2
Gordon’s strong start tempered by lap 100 transmission over the radio: “Remember, Jeff, Mr. Hendrick said this year we’re supposed to only be third-best. Maybe in 2010.”
5 Tony Stewart (1) 153 T-3
Doesn’t look like the conspiracy theorists were right, as Stewart was running up front at New Hampshire. But when all was said and done, he still managed to pull mediocrity from strength.
6 Juan Pablo Montoya 140 9
Pissed off about third while Stewart is OK with 14th? This is a very surreal season.
7 Brian Vickers 136 6
It’s always an x-factor when you’ve got a guy playing with house money.
8 Kurt Busch 130 8
Pat Tryson may not be allowed in the Penske shop, but the team won’t be going either after their crew chief finds a new way to spend his time: “Chase Cookout Wednesdays” in his backyard.
9 Kyle Busch 127 12
Beginning his quest to be the biggest points winner during the Chase to be able to say “I told you so.”
T-10 Greg Biffle 112 11
Biffle had a top-10 finish, but don’t be fooled; that Cinderella slipper broke a long time ago.
T-10 Ryan Newman 112 13
Since when did Newman right the ship on his season? We missed it.
12 Carl Edwards 98 10
Dover is make or break for his championship chances already. And considering his foot is already broke….
13 Kasey Kahne 96 7
The drive for 12th started off very strong on Sunday.
14 Clint Bowyer 64 14
Who knew Richard Childress’s bid for a four-car team would cause an epic four-star collapse?
15 David Reutimann 61 NR
Spending some time talking to Kyle Busch this week about how to handle being hated by Junior Nation. Step one, have lots of extra security on hand at Dover.
Dropped Out: Kevin Harvick (15)
Also Receiving Votes: Matt Kenseth (42), Marcos Ambrose (31), Kevin Harvick (30), Elliott Sadler (18), Joey Logano (18), Casey Mears (14), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (11), Jeff Burton (10), Bobby Labonte (7), Sam Hornish Jr. (4), David Gilliland (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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