Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2010 Air Guard 400 at Richmond

The anti-climactic final moments of the Race to the Chase left a feeling in NASCAR fans’ mouths like they’d kissed their sister Saturday night (Sept. 11). There wasn’t any of the built-up excitement that was promised from all the ESPN hype and the oft-rumored, rarely intense battle for 12th place never materialized.

One of just a handful of Chasers who came to race hard on Saturday, Denny Hamlin was able to take the checkered flag ahead of his hard-charging teammate Kyle Busch, earning the points lead as the totals were reset for the postseason. Regular-season champ Kevin Harvick saw his own margin atop the standings quickly evaporate; instead, he now sits 30 points behind Hamlin and 30 ahead of teammate Clint Bowyer (who snuck in at 12th) as the series gets ready to head towards the final 10 races.

Was Hamlin’s dominant performance Saturday night enough to vault him from 12th to the lead in the Power Rankings? Did Busch get rewarded for his charge from the back to the front with a seat at the top of the stack? Or is Harvick riding the wave of his near season-long reign atop of the points standings back to the No. 1 slot on our list? Read the Power Rankings this week and find out how the experts voted in our version of the “Chase.” It’s called, “nothing changes the way our rankings system works – it’s the old-school ‘points’ way God and Bill France Jr. intended it to be.”

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Kevin Harvick (4) 199 3
Cockier than we’ve ever seen him, which means one of two things: his ego’s going to bring the Chase field to their knees, or they’ll cut him down to size in one fiery ball of flames – just like his Happy Harvick hat. Either way, it’s going to be fun to watch this soap opera play out.
2 Jimmie Johnson (3) 192 5
New baby, new attitude, same old story. Nothing like back-to-back top-five finishes to remind us who’s the favorite in this year’s Drive For Five Chase contest.
3 Kyle Busch (1) 187 4
Pretty in Pink. Need we say more?
4 Denny Hamlin (1) 180 12
Confident, more mature and more seasoned than ever heading into the Chase. But it all doesn’t matter for the points leader if the engine shop puts the wrong part in the wrong place – again.
5 Carl Edwards (1) 177 2
Biffle may have the wins and Kenseth the title, but trust us: Ford will only go so far in this Chase as Cousin Carl will take them. He just needs to keep the flipping secrets to himself; he’s already given that away to one driver too many.
6 Tony Stewart (1) 170 1
Who knew the Smoke nickname started because he used to blow up so much in the IRL?
T-7 Jeff Burton 137 6
Will non-stop top 15s get him in the top five in the standings by the end of the Chase?
T-7 Kurt Busch 137 7
Maybe going back to the old Miller Lite paint scheme wasn’t such a good idea. Can Shell/Pennzoil make the switch 10 races early?
9 Clint Bowyer 136 9
Now let’s see if he can avoid the Brian Vickers total collapse.
10 Jeff Gordon 130 8
Haven’t seen him enter the Chase this lifeless since he missed the whole darn thing in 2005. Current offseason plan is to look into whether Chad Knaus can be cloned.
11 Matt Kenseth 101 13
About as excited about being in the Chase as heading to the dentist for a root canal.
12 Juan Pablo Montoya 91 T-10
How do you say wildcard and battering ram in Spanish? The one driver you don’t want within 50 feet if you’re running for a championship these next 10 weeks.
13 Ryan Newman 76 15
Who turned Newman into a quieter version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Has he been taking classes with Carl Edwards?
14 Greg Biffle 74 T-10
Well, he almost beat Mattias Ekstrom on Saturday night.
15 Jamie McMurray 62 14
Which one would you take? Bowyer’s winless, 12th-place Chase bid or McMurray’s Daytona and Brickyard 400 victories? Yeah, we don’t think the No. 1 team’s losing sleep at night over missing the Chase either.
Dropped Out: None
Also Receiving Votes: Joey Logano (57), Marcos Ambrose (52), AJ Allmendinger (43), Kasey Kahne (25), Mark Martin (24), Martin Truex Jr. (19), David Reutimann (16), Brad Keselowski (11), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (6), Paul Menard (3), Regan Smith (2), Casey Mears (2), Dave Blaney (1)
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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