Marcos Ambrose finally found his way to victory lane Monday (Aug. 15), taking charge in a green-white-checkered finish to conquer his personal demons at Watkins Glen. As for Greg Biffle, his demon comes in the form of a tall, curly-haired Californian after an angry Boris Said threatened to start a heavyweight fight outside his house this week.
It was all part of a bizarre ending on that 2.45-mile road course, a last-lap crash flipping David Reutimann, nearly injuring David Ragan and reminding us all of what happens when there’s no SAFER barrier to stop you. In the meantime, Brad Keselowski put on another pain-defying performance, bringing his car and his ailing back home third to almost certainly clinch himself a spot in the Chase as a wildcard.
After another good finish for Keselowski, will he go from unrated two weeks ago to well inside the top five this week? Was Kyle Busch able to further solidify his hold on the top spot after his second-place finish? And did Denny Hamlin’s continuous bad luck, bad brakes destroying his car while putting him in postseason jeopardy drop him even further down our rankings? Check out how the experts voted as they try and unscramble a another wacky ending to these NASCAR races in August.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP-15 POWER RANKINGS: AUGUST 17, 2011|
|Rank||Driver (First-Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Kyle Busch (5)||118||1|
|Another “New Kyle” sighting, this time on a road course. But is this bounceback version, all about salvaging a good finish strong enough to keep “Old Kyle” in hiding the second there’s a crisis in the Chase?|
|He’s tied for the points lead, he’s got his contract settled, he’s got a smart, smokin’ hot wife… how can Edwards’s life get any better right now?|
|3||Jimmie Johnson (1)||105||4|
|Seen thanking Biffle AND Said after the race for taking the spotlight off of himself and Kurt Busch.|
|There used to be a time drivers would tremble at the thought of Gordon on a road course. Now? He’s just another Average Joe.|
|Who knew the key to winning the wildcard was going out and getting yourself hurt?|
|The Chaser no one’s talking about; but don’t worry, Newman fans. Come Homestead, they probably won’t be talking about him, either.|
|The way he’s been running lately, a sixth-place finish is money. Maybe backing into the playoffs is their new strategy?|
|Sixth in points, but feels like he’s on the verge of winning the title or losing his ride around every corner.|
|Road courses aren’t his thing. Lately, top-five finishes really haven’t been, either.|
|10||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||64||13|
|People are still acting like Junior is all but out of the Chase when he’s got nearly a full race lead over 11th place.|
|Losing 20 spots mowing the grass in the bus stop could really come back to haunt him down the stretch.|
|Had a chance for a huge points gain on Sunday until his Goodyears failed to cooperate. But still, this year’s Indy winner has to feel pretty good the way Hamlin’s luck is running these days.|
|Just in case there were any doubts about job security.|
|Stopped by Biffle’s hauler after the race to get a few pointers on flipping the bird. That way, he can do better the next time Kurt Busch runs all over him.|
|T-14||Martin Truex Jr.||33||NR|
|Boy, does that NAPA Know How car know how to turn right. It’s turning left, consistently that’s been the problem.|
|Dropped Out: Greg Biffle (12), Denny Hamlin (14), Mark Martin (15)|
|Others Receiving Votes: Marcos Ambrose (30), Greg Biffle (30), Clint Bowyer (29), Denny Hamlin (21), Kasey Kahne (19), Mark Martin (13), Jeff Burton (9), Juan Pablo Montoya (8), David Ragan (7), Jamie McMurray (4), Regan Smith (2), Casey Mears (2), David Gilliland (1), Andy Lally (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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