Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2010 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

A typical road-course weekend saw a few names you don’t normally see up front, and some you expected to see up front relegated to poor finishes through no fault of their own. When the smoke cleared from a day filled with bumper cars and bumpy strategies, Jimmie Johnson surprisingly took home the checkered flag for the first time on a road course, while Marcos Ambrose absolutely threw away his first Cup Series victory with one of the most unexplainable moves in history. Meanwhile, Robby Gordon and Boris Said scored top-10 finishes for the first time in trying seasons.

That left you expecting this week’s Power Rankings to be all jumbled up, Denny Hamlin surely losing the top spot after a weird incident where his hood flipped up on the racetrack. But did the experts give these right turns the respect some feel they deserve? Or were they just a blip on the radar screen during the voting, like several playoff contenders themselves are handling the challenge on the road to a road course-free Chase? Check out the top 15 below to see just how it all shook out.

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Denny Hamlin (4) 185 1
Hamlin was testing NASCAR’s new handicap system at Infineon; the previous week’s winner has to take a lap with their hood up.
2 Kevin Harvick (2) 177 4
Someone might want to inform Harvick that his points lead is going to evaporate when the Chase starts if he doesn’t start working on winning some races soon.
3 Kurt Busch (2) 168 2
Busch in the top-five on a road course? That turned into a UFO sighting at the end of the race when a cut tire left him 32nd.
4 Jeff Gordon 163 6
Somehow became possessed by the spirit of Jimmy Spencer over the weekend.
5 Jimmie Johnson (2) 160 5
The championship reign is over! Did you see him sipping that wine in victory lane? Doesn’t chug like he used to… totally slipping.
6 Kyle Busch 152 3
Might have been a good weekend for him to have driven the pink car considering what a pussycat he was.
7 Tony Stewart 118 8
Really, Frankie Stoddard? The best you could do is call Stewart fat? Even he calls himself that… for Christ’s sakes, Burger King is a primary sponsor! We expected better.
8 Greg Biffle 114 10
Matt Kenseth just got his third crew chief in four months. You think Greg Erwin might be sweating bullets on top of the pit box?
9 Jeff Burton 108 7
Has anyone been more snakebitten this season than Burton? He lost another quality finish in the closing laps this weekend.
10 Matt Kenseth 86 9
In case you hadn’t heard, Kenseth does not like road racing. Or crew chiefs who don’t come packaged with the last name “Reiser.”
11 Kasey Kahne 71 13
For the first time all season, Kahne’s made the headlines for what he’s doing on the racetrack, not off of it.
12 Mark Martin 68 15
Fourth again out of the Hendrick contingent. Maybe Martin is actually getting old?
13 Carl Edwards 62 12
Wonder if Edwards ordered some Extenze after reading Kevin Conway’s back bumper crossing the finish line on Sunday.
14 Juan Pablo Montoya 56 NR
Reminding us of the Greek God Sisyphus this year. Busy rolling the ball back up that hill right now and we’re just waiting for it to come tumbling back down.
15 Clint Bowyer 54 11
A darkhorse pick in the “Jeff Gordon Payback Sweepstakes” after being involved with a late wreck with the No. 24 at Infineon.
Dropped Out: Joey Logano (14)
Also Receiving Votes: Clint Bowyer (54), Joey Logano (53), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (51), Martin Truex Jr. (44), David Reutimann (40), AJ Allmendinger (35), Ryan Newman (35), Marcos Ambrose (32), Jamie McMurray (30), Robby Gordon (20), Boris Said (8), Paul Menard (7), Regan Smith (2), Jan Magnussen (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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