Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2011 Quaker State 400 at Kentucky

Kentucky Speedway held their first Sprint Cup race on Saturday night (July 9); just not everyone got to see it, thanks to the traffic nightmare now heard around the racing world. But for the crowd who was there, and it was substantial, they got to see Kyle Busch put on a show, waltzing over even his biggest challengers, the Penske Racing duo of Brad Keselowski and brother Kurt Busch en route to victory.

Kyle led almost half the laps of the race, then excelled in a green-white-checkered finish where the biggest battle was for second place: David Reutimann prevailed, besting Jimmie Johnson to put a band-aid on what’s been a horrible season to date. Of course, not everyone left the track with a smile; Jeff Gordon, who came into the night with three inaugural race wins, was hoping for a fourth but it did not materialize.

Back in the pack, teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. saw a blown tire blow his opportunity to be a “Chase lock” with eight races remaining, while former points leader Kevin Harvick had an extremely average night with no patented late-race heroics.

Did the strength of Busch’s victory, pushing him ahead of Harvick in points, have him climbing to the top in our weekly Power Rankings, too? Or is Matt Kenseth making a push towards first place, thanks to another consistently good result? Further down the list, will Reutimann make a rare top-15 appearance thanks to his second-place finish? Or will Joey Logano, despite an ugly weekend still hold claim to one of those final spots? Check out the Power Rankings this week to see how Kentucky influenced the poll while you were napping… or crawling in traffic outside the speedway.

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Kyle Busch (5) 117 2
Just two spots from a perfect weekend… even won a late model race in Wisconsin for the icing on the cake Sunday.
2 Carl Edwards 107 5
Righted the ship after an ugly past few weeks, but is it enough to finally write his name on that Roush Fenway contract they’re dangling in front of him?
3 Jeff Gordon 96 3
That could be the last chance Gordon is going to have to win an inaugural event. Guess he’s going to finish his career with three of them…
4 Kevin Harvick (1) 95 1
Mr. Where Did He Come From turned into Mr. Where Did He Go last week.
5 Matt Kenseth 92 4
Doing a heck of a job convincing future sponsors their name will be seen on TV quite a bit these last few weeks.
6 Jimmie Johnson 90 7
Sure, third place is nothing to sneeze at, and this team uses up the whole summer as a test session anyways. But with only one win to their credit, up-and-down this entire season doesn’t that final restart scream “opportunity lost?”
7 Kurt Busch 86 6
Surely, at some point somebody on Kurt Busch’s radio is going to jump on the radio and yell “Shut the %^&* up?” They can’t have THAT much patience… right?
8 David Ragan 69 11
Back-to-back top-10 finishes for the first time in months, up to 15th in the Sprint Cup standings… where is the real Ragan and where has UPS shipped him off to so this imposter can finally get them some TV time?
9 Ryan Newman 58 NR
It wasn’t Kenny Wallace’s “Pass in the Grass” but that move on the final restart got him a bunch of spots.
T-10 Joey Logano 56 8
Liked Kentucky a whole lot better when only the minor leaguers and a few big names on vacation came to play. If the pink slip comes in a month or two, remember this moment… the one where that slip could have been thrown away, if only.
T-10 Denny Hamlin 56 9
You’d think he’d be better at Kentucky considering how flat it is, although an 11th-place finish after the way the weekend started is a pretty good result.
12 Brad Keselowski 52 NR
Apparently, Keselowski got confused and thought Saturday night was a Nationwide race; he actually ran up front all night.
13 Kasey Kahne 44 12
A few years from now, when looking back Kahne might just tell the NCAA he cheated so they can ask NASCAR to remove his 2011 from the public record.
14 Tony Stewart 43 NR
Um, Smoke… it is officially summer now. You’re supposed to be heating up.
15 Clint Bowyer 36 14
Don’t call Kentucky a cookie cutter; after all, Bowyer showed us how much he stinks there compared to Kansas.
Dropped Out: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (10), AJ Allmendinger (13), Paul Menard (15)
Others Receiving Votes: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (35), Paul Menard (28), David Reutimann (22), AJ Allmendinger (19), Juan Pablo Montoya (19), Greg Biffle (17), Marcos Ambrose (7), Regan Smith (6), David Gilliland (5), Martin Truex Jr. (3), Landon Cassill (2)
Writer Voters Include: Phil Allaway, Tom Bowles, Bryan Davis Keith, Tony Lumbis, Vito Pugliese, 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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