Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2010 Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol

The new Bristol provided a lot of excitement over the weekend, but the traditional bump-and-run found itself replaced by another classic maneuver: the slide job. When done correctly, Kyle Busch used it as a weapon towards an unprecedented three-race sweep; when done wrong, it led to a bump and spin on Friday night during the Nationwide race that caused Brad Keselowski to call him a three-letter word we can’t repeat (Here’s a clue: It rhymes with “sass”).

But this week isn’t just all about donkeys and Busch charging up the rankings after Thunder Valley; instead, there’s concerns surrounding most of the guys he leapt over. A number of the top 12 in points were beset by bad luck on Saturday, which ultimately meant that a few of them swapped spots in both the standings here and in real life.

Sure, a Chase bid for both is virtually assured, but just how much did bumps in the road like Jimmie Johnson‘s spin and Denny Hamlin‘s driveshaft hurt their placement inside the Power Rankings? And what about the non-Chasers trying desperately to both stay relevant and sneak their way on the list; was Kasey Kahne’s third top five at Bristol in 14 career starts enough to inch him up the ladder?

Read this week’s Power Rankings to see who came out of the half-mile madness at Bristol on the right track – and who’s busy spending the sport’s final off week trying desperately to halt heading in the wrong direction.

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Kevin Harvick (8) 209 1
What happened to RCR on short tracks? Oh, right; they want to win a championship and there’s only one of those out of 10 tracks in the Chase.
2 Kyle Busch (2) 186 12
First man to sweep three Cup, Nationwide and Truck races at same track in one weekend AND get called a three-letter word in public during driver intros. Pretty impressive.
3 Jeff Gordon 174 3
Fun fact: Since Jan. 2008, David Reutimann has more wins than Gordon. Chew on that, then tell us he’s a title contender.
4 Carl Edwards 166 4
Intriguing to see if Carl can win Atlanta just to see if he can make history by flipping both himself and someone else in one year at a racetrack.
5 Tony Stewart 161 2
Lost two spots in the standings, which means absolutely nothing at this point in the year.
6 Jeff Burton 152 6
Ironic, isn’t it, that he’s sponsored by a company that builds unmistakable bright yellow loud construction equipment. For on race day, you never see or hear from the No. 31 – until you check the top 10 in the final box score.
T-7 Greg Biffle 140 7
Just laying low until it’s time to go; a sleeper pick for both the 2010 Championship and ESPN the Magazine’s Driver X.
T-7 Kurt Busch 140 9
The King of Bristol? These days, he’s more like the Crown Prince to little brother.
9 Clint Bowyer (1) 132 11
Leading the series in large, cartoon hand-drawn paint schemes for the year. But at least the bubble is safe… for now.
10 Jimmie Johnson 122 8
Let’s face it: All Juan did was wipe an old car out of the inventory. It doesn’t matter and won’t until New Hampshire.
11 Jamie McMurray 110 15
How funny would it be if the man who once made a career out of Chase near-misses makes the playoffs the one time he’s not even trying.
12 Denny Hamlin 101 5
Amazing how when Johnson struggles, he’ll still get it together in September but when Hamlin does his championship chances are over. That’s what happens when you’re the Boy Who Cried Wolf… or “Can’t Get It Done In The Chase.”
13 Juan Pablo Montoya 96 13
No, no, Juan Pablo! You’re actually supposed to do that once the Chase starts… not before.
14 Matt Kenseth 95 10
You sure someone didn’t slip a fourth crew chief on top of the pit box when we weren’t looking? This latest two-race rebound is, well, coming out of nowhere.
15 David Reutimann 77 NR
Do they still give out that Goody’s Headache Award? How about Pepto Bismol? The No. 00 crew thanks you for not puking in the car Saturday night. Nice work.
Dropped Out: Kasey Kahne (14)
Also Receiving Votes: Kasey Kahne (69), Ryan Newman (55), Mark Martin (32), Martin Truex Jr. (27), Joey Logano (19), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (13), AJ Allmendinger (11), Brad Keselowski (10), Marcos Ambrose (5), Paul Menard (3), Reed Sorenson (3), Jeff Green (2)
Writer Voting Panel: Phil Allaway, Brock Beard, Thomas Bowles, Bryan Davis Keith, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, Vito Pugliese, Mike Ravesi, Kurt Smith, Garrett Horton 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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