Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2011 STP 400 at Kansas

For the second week in a row the Cup Series race came down to fuel mileage; only this time, the car in front was able to make his fuel last. Brad Keselowski made his tank stretch for 56 laps, in total to score his first victory since that Talladega flip-to-win in April 2009. Dale Earnhardt Jr. followed Keselowski to the line for a second-place result, making it to the end on one less stop but falling just short of victory lane a second straight week. Right behind them, with Denny Hamlin coming home in third, the other three manufacturers on the circuit officially beat Ford to the finish with Carl Edwards crossing the finish line in fifth.

That running order allowed Edwards to keep a mammoth points lead intact; is that enough to give him the number one slot in our Frontstretch poll, too? Or since Earnhardt came so close to a win, again, will the pollsters reward him with enough votes to overtake the top spot? And after Keselowski took his second Cup Series win, how far did he rise in the eyes of our pollsters? Read this week’s Power Rankings to find out if your favorite driver left the Heartland filled with momentum for the sport’s upcoming summer stretch.

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Carl Edwards (5) 117 1
Happy to be leading the points, excited to be headed back to Pocono – a track that’s always been good to him – but most of all, relieved that someone else’s fight has finally gained more notoriety than a certain Atlanta flip.
2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1) 111 3
The cup half full would say to Junior, “You’re putting yourself in position to win.” The cup half empty? “You’re finding every way possible to lose.”
3 Jimmie Johnson 98 4
“There’s no place like the Chase… there’s no place like the Chase… there’s no place…”
4 Kevin Harvick 96 2
Still unsure to be ecstatic or embarrassed that his 65-year-old owner threw punches.
5 Matt Kenseth 84 T-5
A clothing sponsor for Kenseth? What’s next – a karaoke machine sponsor for Martin Truex Jr.?
6 Greg Biffle 79 7
Post-It Notes and Prescriptions on the hood could lead to some interesting medicine dosing options.
7 Denny Hamlin 78 12
Quietly climbing into Chase contention at the perfect time for his annual Pocono Victory Tour through Pennsylvania.
8 Kyle Busch 76 T-5
Speeding tickets, fights with NASCAR’s grand… er, Godfather, and yet he still might walk away from Homestead with the championship trophy. Doesn’t there seem to be something inherently wrong with that?
9 Kurt Busch 70 15
Check under bipolar in the dictionary and they had a picture of Kurt Busch running around Kansas this weekend.
 T-10 Tony Stewart 68 NR
Bobby Hutchens paid the price for Smoke’s Prelude to the Dream distraction. If only he could have lasted a few more weeks…
T-10 Jeff Gordon 68 NR
Spent Sunday morning pitching AARP to Richard Childress after he saw what little damage the old man did to Kyle Busch’s face.
12 Brad Keselowski 54 NR
Drove it like he stole it, from the long line at the gas station.
13 Clint Bowyer 51 8
For a Midwestern guy, Bowyer never seems to get it exactly right in his hometown. Maybe it was the whole car owner embroiled in a heavyweight fight thing this year.
14 David Ragan 44 9
Still may not end up in this car next season but boy, is he putting up a better fight than anyone could have ever expected.
15 Kasey Kahne 38 NR
Let us get this straight; from the Allstate girls to a pile of horse manure and tractor commercials? Not exactly what we had in mind for this teen heartthrob’s sponsor.
Dropped Out: Marcos Ambrose (10), AJ Allmendinger (11), Joey Logano (13), Regan Smith (14)
Others Receiving Votes: Ryan Newman (25), Marcos Ambrose (20), AJ Allmendinger (17), Regan Smith (13), Mark Martin (12), Joey Logano (11), Brian Vickers (8), Martin Truex Jr. (7), Paul Menard (6), David Reutimann (5), Juan Pablo Montoya (3), Justin Allgaier (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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