New Hampshire Motor Speedway held a Sprint Cup race and a chess match broke out in Loudon. Trust us, there were more strategies in play during the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 than in a Bobby Fischer v. Boris Spassky World Championship. Teams were taking two tires, four tires, fuel only, stretching fuel, short-pitting and consulting Ouija boards in an effort to take the trophy on Sunday (July 17), but Ryan Newman and his crew chief Tony Gibson called all the right shots to score their first win of the season just ahead of their teammate and owner Tony Stewart.
Jimmie Johnson overcame a pit road blunder, fuel deficiency and some general negativism from his crew chief to pull out a top-five finish while Kyle Busch suffered a blown right front tire early. He came home 77 laps down, dropping to fifth in the series points while losing his grip on the Power Rankings.
Ahead of him, Carl Edwards regained the points lead; will that be enough to push him to the top of our poll? How much will Busch have to pay in the rankings for his 36th-place finish? And is Joey Logano going to move even further up in the poll after his strong, fourth-place run? Read this week’s Power Rankings and see if your driver was eating lobster or wondering why his tire bead melted in Loudon.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP-15 POWER RANKINGS: JULY 20, 2011|
|Rank||Driver (First-Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Carl Edwards (2)||114||2|
|He needs to re-sign with Roush now. Otherwise, he ain’t gonna win the title.|
|2||Kyle Busch (2)||110||1|
|To have any hope of unseating Johnson, he can’t afford that type of day at Loudon come September.|
|3||Jimmie Johnson (2)||100||6|
|Getting all the drama out of the way now so his sixth straight title can be a bit more relaxing than the other five.|
|The original Four-Time is having his best season in years; too bad his teammate is still driving that No. 48.|
|Things are looking up for Busch when a 10th-place finish is a disappointment for the team.|
|Believe it or not, Newman has never had a top-five points finish. But with the way he has run lately, that could change this year.|
|If Harvick needs a vacation, his crew needs a full-year sabbatical after listening to those complaints on the radio.|
|Looked like another quiet Kenseth weekend until we looked up and realized he finished 20th.|
|That was a championship-caliber effort to come home third.|
|Happy with a second-place finish? OK, who are you and what did you do with the real Tony?|
|Don’t forget, he almost won at the Brickyard a couple of years ago – even as a lame duck, he’s a darkhorse next Sunday.|
|Want your driver to run well? Start rumors that you are looking to replace him.|
|See David Ragan.|
|So much for Loudon giving Bowyer a good chance to turn things around.|
|Quietly putting together a comeback season behind the wheel at RPM.|
|Dropped Out: Brad Keselowski (12)|
|Others Receiving Votes: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (26), David Reutimann (26), Greg Biffle (18), Martin Truex Jr. (17), Bobby Labonte (16), Brad Keselowski (15), AJ Allmendinger (15), Paul Menard (8), Juan Pablo Montoya (6), Regan Smith (4), Jeff Burton (3), Landon Cassill (1), JJ Yeley (1)|
|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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