Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville

Although he didn’t win on Sunday, Jimmie Johnson continued his death grip on the top spot in the Power Rankings, with his second-place finish at Martinsville more than enough to secure all 10 of the first-place votes this week. With four races left, the No. 48 needs to only avoid the Talladega wreck to coast home towards his fourth straight title – and a likely season championship in our poll to boot.

But while the number one spot seems secure, plenty of movement ensued within our expert’s weekly submissions. Denny Hamlin‘s third win of the season brought him from the poll’s biggest loser to its biggest winner in the matter of just two weeks. Just how far did he climb? And were any drivers on the outside looking in, like Brian Vickers and Kevin Harvick, able to crack this week’s Power Rankings after impressive performances in the final short track race of the season? Check out the rankings to see which drivers ate high on the hog and which ones had to load up on the TUMS after this weekend.

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 Jimmie Johnson (10) 200 1
Getting harder to come up with new ways to say, “It’s over.”
2 Jeff Gordon 183 2
Who knew back in 2002, a young rookie would one day steal the “Drive For Five” label from Gordon before he’d even have a chance to win his fifth?
3 Mark Martin 177 3
Mark’s desk at home must be so disorganized, because he sure hates racing around paperclips.
4 Juan Pablo Montoya 174 6
Is it a coincidence that EGR hasn’t put Taco Bell on Montoya’s car yet this year?
5 Tony Stewart 158 4
He may not be getting the best of the Hendrick equipment, but it sure seems better than Junior’s.
6 Kurt Busch 135 5
Pat Tryson’s now one Talladega Big One away from packing his bags and starting his ’09 offseason three weeks early.
7 Denny Hamlin 131 11
Petitioning hard for all 10 Chase races to be held in Virginia in 2010. Will build a track in his parents’ backyard if that’s what it takes.
8 Ryan Newman 117 8
Never looked at as a contender on the bullrings, but six top 10s in six short-track races in 2009. Very impressive.
9 Kyle Busch 105 12
Wonder who was sick of who in that little arrangement that prompted the crew chief change?
10 Matt Kenseth 101 T-9
Typical Roush performance at Martinsville.
11 Kasey Kahne 81 7
Good thing they don’t have that three-caution rule in the big leagues.
12 Clint Bowyer 80 13
Let’s not forget, this time last year Bowyer was a Nationwide champ-to-be and sitting pretty in the top five in points. Vastly underrated for 2009’s “Disappointment of the Year” award.
13 Greg Biffle 78 T-9
Typical Roush performance at Martinsville.
14 Carl Edwards 72 14
Typical Roush performance at Martinsville. Notice a trend?
15 Casey Mears 63 15
Somebody forgot to tell this poor guy that cats are the only ones with nine lives. You can only put in a last-ditch effort to save your career so many times.
Dropped Out: None
Also Receiving Votes: Joey Logano (48), Brian Vickers (48), Kevin Harvick (46), David Reutimann (40), Jeff Burton (22), Marcos Ambrose (17), Jamie McMurray (10), Martin Truex Jr. (9), Bobby Labonte (3), David Ragan (3)
Who Voted: Thomas Bowles, 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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