Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2011 FedEx 400 at Dover

Four-hundred miles at Dover looked like it was going to be a battle with Mother Nature; instead, Sunday (May 15) turned into a war with Goodyear. As the race unfolded, both tires and track position took center stage, the rubbering of the racetrack making it difficult to pass and leading towards a pit call that produced an unlikely winner. Matt Kenseth used a two-tire strategy on the last stop of the race to take control, putting his car out in clean air while running away from the day’s dominant drivers: Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards.

Further back, feel-good stories were the order of the day, filling out most of the top portion of Dover’s final results. Brian Vickers returned to the track where he had to sit out his first race last season because of health issues and turned in a top-five performance, easily his best during a rebuilding year with Red Bull Racing. Meanwhile, Marcos Ambrose came oh-so-close again to his first oval win when he ended up on the podium with a third-place run.

While points leader Edwards led the second-most laps of the event, he came home a disappointing seventh. Was that enough for the pollsters to keep him in the top spot for another week? Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus actually made a mistake which put the most dominant car of the event in ninth by the end of the day; will that hurt his driver’s position, too? And did Kenseth’s second win of the year give him enough momentum to reach the top half of the Power Rankings… a major step considering he wasn’t even in the top 15 last week?

Check out this week’s poll to see if your driver was able to make it through the treachery of the Monster Mile unscathed by our experts.

FRONTSTRETCH TOP-15 POWER RANKINGS: MAY 18, 2011
Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Carl Edwards (4) 117 1
Really good at backflipping off his car. But helping other people flip? Boy, that’s a nasty habit that’s got to stop.
T-2 Kyle Busch (1) 110 2
Made it all the way from shotgun on the field into the top five Sunday. And he didn’t even have to knock anyone out of the way or into the wall to do it! Such progress.
T-2 Jimmie Johnson (1) 110 3
Not exactly a day that will live in infamy but May 15, 2011 is the first documented case of Chad Knaus making a mistake – at least one where he didn’t try and cheat.
4 Kevin Harvick 98 4
The No. 29 crew might have Harvick’s back against Kyle Busch, but how do they not beat his ass when he whines so much about pit stops?
5 Clint Bowyer 92 10
Wasn’t exactly upside down and on fire at the end of the Cup race, but he was just as hot under the collar after the four-tire call left him sitting with a disappointing sixth-place finish.
6 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 85 6
What’s ironic about Earnhardt needing the Fan Vote to make the All-Star Race is this year’s the one where he’s actually running good enough to be included on merit.
7 Matt Kenseth 64 NR
That’s the old Kenseth we know and love. Qualifies 24th, lingers in the shadows until the last few laps, then shows up at the front of the line to cash his winning check.
8 Martin Truex Jr. 55 T-14
Maybe they should have fired half of his pit crew before the season started.
9 Greg Biffle 51 9
When Miles the Monster acts like Glenda the Good Witch and you STILL crash… it’s just not your day.
10 Mark Martin 50 NR
Even at 52, driving the worst Hendrick car, managing a befuddled crew chief and with his crew patiently waiting for Kasey Kahne this guy still finds a way to fight through it all and make it work.
11 Ryan Newman 46 11
Played the role of invisible man last weekend; but trust us, at the All-Star Race Juan Pablo Montoya will know exactly where he is at all times.
12 Denny Hamlin 45 8
Speeding down pit road was his fault. A bad-handling car was Mike Ford’s fault. Sometimes, when the chemistry ends it’s nobody’s fault. So why can’t JGR man up already and let this marriage go?
13 Tony Stewart 43 5
For those worried about Stewart’s summer streak, need we remind you… it’s not summer yet?
T-14 Kasey Kahne 40 7
At least he was able to stand up and make coherent sentences after the end of his day this weekend.
T-14 Brad Keselowski 40 NR
Two races since Kurt made him sound like a second-tier driver – and two races where he finished ahead of the 2004 champion.
Dropped Out: Regan Smith (12), Jeff Gordon (13), AJ Allmendinger (T-14)
Also Receiving Votes: Marcos Ambrose (39), Jeff Gordon (37), Brian Vickers (29), AJ Allmendinger (22), Regan Smith (20), Jeff Burton (11), Kurt Busch (10), Jamie McMurray (10), David Reutimann (8), Bobby Labonte (7), David Ragan (7), Juan Pablo Montoya (6), Paul Menard (5), Mike Bliss (1), Joey Logano (1), David Gilliland (1)
Writer Voters Include: Phil Allaway, Bryan Davis Keith, Tom Bowles, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff and Garrett Horton

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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