Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2010 Heluva Good! 400 at Michigan

The Irish Hills of Michigan were not the scene of a fuel-mileage strategy play this weekend; instead, the drama scenes fizzled in the face of total domination by Denny Hamlin. Not even mystery debris could cloud the ending of a race thoroughly controlled by the No. 11 from start to finish. Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and others gave it their all, but for this week the Tony went to a Toyota Camry right smack in the heart of Big Three’s Broadway, right near home base of American automotive headquarters in Detroit.

Having scored his fifth win in the last 10 races, Hamlin firmly established himself as the favorite to unseat Jimmie Johnson as series champ… but did he also unseat Kyle Busch as the top driver in our Power Rankings? Or was Kurt Busch’s current run of consistency enough to vault him into the number one spot? Further back, of course, there’s the question a legion of Most Popular Driver Fans want to know… was Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s strong seventh-place run enough to pull him back into the top 15?

Check this week’s Power Rankings to find out how our experts voted, deciding whether your favorite drivers sank or swam during a rainy but successful weekend running the 2-mile oval up north.

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Denny Hamlin (9) 199 2
If he stays away from basketball courts or chasing team members around the hauler, chances are it will be a very long summer for the rest of the Sprint Cup field.
2 Kurt Busch (1) 184 3
With all the rivalries popping up this year, could you imagine if this year’s title came down to Kyle vs. Kurt? This year’s Thanksgiving dinner could come with a choose-your-weapon duel for dessert.
3 Kyle Busch 161 1
Considering he got his first career win at California (err… excuse us) Auto Club Speedway, it’s a total mystery why he continues to struggle at Michigan.
4 Kevin Harvick 156 4
Hypocrisy personified: Said he doesn’t appreciate Joey Logano making things personal, then spends half an hour in the media center at Michigan trashing his dad.
5 Jimmie Johnson 155 5
170 points out of first, three wins so far this season… and he’s down for the count? People who are counting him out are doing so not from statistical analysis, but by wishing, hoping, praying and jabbing Chad dolls with voodoo pins.
6 Jeff Gordon 154 7
No one cares who is standing by as a relief driver for your baby’s birth when your last championship was nine years ago.
7 Jeff Burton 138 8
Who knew joining the Finger Pointing Hall of Fame came with such a strong boost of momentum?
8 Tony Stewart 118 10
Back-to-back top fives with July Daytona race just around the corner. This is when Smoke usually catches fire. ← Best cliché, ever.
9 Matt Kenseth 112 6
Is it possible that Kenseth will win the title and force another change to the points system, simply by running so pedestrian this year?
10 Greg Biffle 100 NR
One of two Fords in the top 10. Oh, well… guess you have to hang your hat on something.
11 Joey Logano 94 12
Has a remarkable ability to not only bounce back from adversity, but also to not back down from balding bullies.
12 Carl Edwards 83 NR
Hope the Aflac duck knows how to calculate Ackerman steering, because no one else seems to be able to get that right over at No. 99 shop.
13 Kasey Kahne 74 12
The elusive FR9 was supposedly in Kahne’s car this weekend, although Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster were also reported to have been spotted in the infield at Michigan.
14 Clint Bowyer 60 9
How much did losing out on a Pocono win really damage the momentum of this team? It’ll be interesting to see going forward, because so far, early returns say “a lot.”
15 Mark Martin 58 11
GoDaddy.com ought to make another commercial with Mark in it, just so people remember that he drives the bright green car, not Danica.
Dropped Out: Ryan Newman (13), Jamie McMurray (T-14), David Reutimann (T-14)
Also Receiving Votes: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (43), Juan Pablo Montoya (42), Martin Truex Jr. (38), AJ Allmendinger (37), David Reutimann (31), Ryan Newman (26), Jamie McMurray (17), Marcos Ambrose (15), Robby Gordon (5), Regan Smith (3), Boris Said (2), Paul Menard (1), Scott Speed (1)
Writer Voting Panel: Phil Allaway, Brock Beard, Thomas Bowles, Bryan Davis Keith, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, Vito Pugliese, Mike Ravesi, Kurt Smith and Matt Taliaferro


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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