Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

The Memorial Day Weekend races all had exciting finishes, with two of them coming down to a pass on the front straight for a win. At Charlotte, the sport’s Most Popular Driver came up about half a gallon short, which let Kevin Harvick sweep past to steal the victory, leading only two laps on the night and his ninth in a victory this season. David Ragan backed up his All-Star Showdown triumph by finishing second while Joey Logano reinforced his series-best average finish position at CMS by battling all night and ultimately coming across the line third.

Carl Edwards led the second most laps of the night behind his teammate Matt Kenseth. He ran low on fuel at the end of the event which cost him several positions, but did it cost him the lead in the Power Rankings? Will Harvick gain enough respect to take over the top spot with him only leading nine laps in his three wins this year? Is Dale Earnhardt Jr. climbing up the ladder thanks to another run that was strong but came up short of victory lane again?

Check out the Power Rankings for the week and see if your driver survived the longest NASCAR race of the season with a good finish in the rankings or if they ended up sucking fumes as the checkered flag went into the air.

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Carl Edwards (5) 116 1
Apparently, the FR9 runs cooler but it eats more gasoline.
2 Kevin Harvick 113 4
For someone who has historically sucked at Intermediate tracks, especially Charlotte, Happy certainly pulled a rabbit out of his hat with this one.
3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 99 8
The National Guard lost two of the biggest races of the weekend coming off the fourth turn.
4 Jimmie Johnson 94 3
Don’t let the blown engine and Chad Knaus’s blown temper fool you; this team is still as good as it’s ever been.
T-5 Kyle Busch 86 2
Third most laps led along with most spins by one car at Charlotte.
T-5 Matt Kenseth 86 6
Fuel didn’t go his way, but speed still rests right under the hood of this 2003 Cup Series champion; can he add a second in 2011?
7 Greg Biffle 81 7
Conserving the points became more important than conserving fuel Sunday night. Between that and the heat inside his car, Biffle’s skin may turn a permanent shade of red.
8 Clint Bowyer 76 5
At least he beat Jeff Burton, although it took someone dumping the governor to make that happen.
9 David Ragan 60 NR
The quietest second-place finish in recorded history.
10 Marcos Ambrose 56 15
Can the Tasmanian Devil finally steal an oval-track victory in June? He’s been threatening; but if Kansas, Pocono and Michigan don’t do it chances are Infineon could be his in a cakewalk.
11 AJ Allmendinger 51 NR
Just when you thought he was out of Chase contention, this overachiever does enough to pretend he’s right back in it.
12 Denny Hamlin 48 T-13
Looked like he was drafting off Junior to try and slingshot across the finish line with no fuel.
13 Joey Logano 42 NR
Two Lucky Dogs and fuel led to a third-place finish at Charlotte; it’s almost like, New Hampshire, Part II only without the victory lane trophy from 2009.
14 Regan Smith 39 NR
Almost scored the second top five of his career but the caution didn’t fly for Burton.
15 Kurt Busch 37 NR
Actually kept his word to not blow up on the radio for the entire 600 miles – monkeys and footballs everywhere are rejoicing.
Dropped Out: Tony Stewart (36), Kasey Kahne (28), David Reutimann (28), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (21), Jeff Gordon (20), Ryan Newman (13), Brad Keselowski (11), Mark Martin (8), Martin Truex Jr. (6), Paul Menard (3), Juan Pablo Montoya (2)
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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