The All-Star weekend was hyped beyond belief, but after Marcus Smith’s marketing magic at Charlotte his “Have At It” talk turned out to be a whole lot of hullabaloo about nothing. You can’t always have barn burners, of course, but Saturday night’s exhibition race (May 21) would have left a local librarian sleeping by lap 50.
How bad was it? The most excitement of the evening came when winner Carl Edwards slid down the frontstretch, pulling a stunt for the fans before his backflip until nearly ripping the front off his Ford instead – the AFLAC car got its nose caught deep into the infield grass and paid the price.
Speaking of consequences, Edwards’s win left Kyle Busch “speeding” to second, steering clear of “good friend” Kevin Harvick while finishing this glorified single-file parade for only the second time in his six-year career. David Ragan, the All-Star Showdown winner, was a non-existent eighth while Dale Earnhardt Jr. stole the Fan Vote and promptly disappeared to 14th.
But even on a quiet night, enough contenders pulled away from pretenders for our panel of NASCAR experts to switch up the poll. So with Edwards leading the rankings coming into the weekend, did an All-Star victory put a greater stranglehold on the top spot? Was Kyle Busch able to hold onto second, or did the name “Jimmie’s House” do enough to scare voters into putting five-time champ Mr. Johnson above the rest?
Further back, has All-Star fourth-place finisher Tony Stewart finally kicked a season-long slump with summer approaching? Read this week’s Power Rankings to find out if your favorite driver was able to move up into the all-star levels of the poll or if they have been relegated to the Showdown section of the rankings instead.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP-15 POWER RANKINGS: MAY 25, 2011|
|Rank||Driver (First-Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Carl Edwards (6)||120||1|
|Bob Osborne was really happy everyone had to take four tires on that last pit stop.|
|Like brother, like brother? Hasn’t Kyle learned already Kurt isn’t the best example to follow? Sounds like someone needs to get these boys a radar detector… and a dose of common sense.|
|Sounded a little at odds with Chad on the radio Saturday night. Trouble in paradise?|
|The odds Happy can go 600 miles without bitching at his pit crew are about as good as the Kardashians staying out of the tabloids.|
|Has to be looking around at all the other drivers signing contract extensions, checking his place in the points and wondering why Richard’s always on the other line with Austin Dillon when he calls to check on things.|
|Quietly building a case as a championship contender behind the scenes, even as his teammate spends every weekend running circles around the rest of the field. But let’s not forget the trophy Mr. Kenseth has sitting on the mantle… it’s one Mr. Edwards has yet to acquire.|
|Remember in 2005, when Roush put all its cars in the Chase? Looks like we’re… oh, that’s right, Roush has Ragan. Forget it.|
|8||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||68||6|
|You mean NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver won the Fan Vote? What a shocker. Too bad he didn’t do anything with it during the one year in the last five he actually deserved to be a part of the damned race.|
|Smoke finally woke up and realized summer’s around the corner Saturday night. Wait; the 90 degree temperatures and tornadoes spawning all around this month didn’t offer enough of a clue?|
|Gets big kudos for being in attendance at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. But a wag of the finger to those people who mistook him for A) A historic statue or B) an actual inductee.|
|Newman’s been so quiet lately, it’s easy to forget he’s going to be a part of the free agent market, too. But I’m sure these Danica Patrick rumors have Mr. Newman himself remembering that real quickly.|
|Looked like a contender but ended up with a flat right side instead.|
|It used to be that intermediates were this driver’s Achilles Heel. Now? It could be his only chance to salvage a Chase bid.|
|He may have finished behind Earnhardt Jr. but “Wonder Boy” looked like a far greater threat to pull off some All-Star magic.|
|How crazy would it be if this guy won on an oval before a road course? It’s starting to look like that may happen.|
|Dropped Out: Martin Truex Jr. (8), Brad Keselowski (T-14)|
|Also Receiving Votes: David Ragan (33), Martin Truex Jr. (31), AJ Allmendinger (26), Brad Keselowski (20), David Reutimann (15), Brian Vickers (13), Regan Smith (10), Kurt Busch (10), Jeff Burton (5), Paul Menard (5), Jamie McMurray (4), Joey Logano (4), Juan Pablo Montoya (4), David Gilliland (2), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (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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