Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2011 Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan

Michigan is in the back yard of the Big Three and they had to watch as the Japanese-badged car took the checkered flag when Kyle Busch out-dueled Jimmie Johnson on a late-race restart and held on for the win. The race saw longtime points leader Carl Edwards have some sort of unexplained engine issue which dropped him well back in the pack and cost him the points lead.

At the same time Denny Hamlin had a horrible race and cause himself and most of the people watching to start thinking he may not be involved in the Chase this year. At the same time Brad Keselowski finished in the top three for the third race in a row and firmly established himself as a potential championship contender.

Was Kyle Busch able to take all of the first place votes in the poll this week after taking the win at Michigan? How much did the voters penalize Edwards for his unidentified engine issue? Is Keselowski in the top three after scoring three of them in a row? Read this week’s Power Rankings to see if your favorite driver moved up after a good tire call at the end or if they slid down after their engine let them down.

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Kyle Busch (6) 120 1
Looking like he’ll be the favorite heading into the postseason, but haven’t we seen this movie before? Yeah, we know, Samantha wasn’t around then; but unless she’s Bewitched, it’s hard for the wife to somehow keep mechanical parts from breaking.
T-2 Jimmie Johnson 106 3
Acting out more than we’ve ever seen him before the Chase. Maybe he’s getting bored of doing the same ol’ thing five straight times?
T-2 Jeff Gordon 106 4
Tuning up for what could be his best chance to win a title since the last time he “should have won” based on the old system in 2007.
4 Brad Keselowski 97 5
If Keselowski wins the championship from a wildcard spot, trust us, the knee won’t be the only injury he’ll be nursing after NASCAR purists get through with him.
5 Matt Kenseth 93 9
Kenseth carried the banner for Roush on Sunday (Aug. 21). Too bad Toyotas stopped by to trample it on their way to victory lane.
6 Ryan Newman 89 6
The buzz at Stewart-Haas is Danica, Danica, Danica, but their only hope with a win lies with Newman, Newman, Newman these days.
7 Carl Edwards 82 2
I’ll take “post-contract hangover” for $400, Alex. And the answer is… this team forgot to fix all the broken parts and pieces they made for the No. 99 once they heard their driver wasn’t going to Joe Gibbs Racing after all.
8 Kevin Harvick 61 7
Richard Childress Racing fired their pit crew coach this week. In a related story, Harvick’s job application was rejected after a background check revealed “a repeated history of past verbal abuse.”
9 Tony Stewart 59 11
Wondering if the owner role is starting to cause the driver role to suffer.
10 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 56 10
Like it or hate it, Steve Letarte is doing what it takes to get Junior to the Chase – just not sure that will help him once he’s there.
11 AJ Allmendinger 53 T-14
The best driver left without a Sprint Cup win. And if he gets one? Get this: he’ll slot into the second wildcard position for the Chase.
12 Kasey Kahne 51 NR
Wishing “lame duck” also came with an “early out” despite a recent uptick in performance at Red Bull.
13 Mark Martin 50 NR
All of a sudden, come Atlanta this team could take a gamble and… we’ve got a retiring 52-year-old, on his farewell tour Part XXII sneaking in the Chase.
14 Clint Bowyer 49 NR
The battle is on between Bowyer and Stewart for the last spot inside the top 10. Whoever wins first will be in.
15 Kurt Busch 36 8
Little did Kurt know that lighting a fire under his organization would cause Keselowski, not the No. 22 team to blow up by midsummer.
Dropped Out: Paul Menard (12), Joey Logano (13), Martin Truex Jr. (T-14)
Others Receiving Votes: Greg Biffle (27), Marcos Ambrose (20), David Ragan (19), Paul Menard (16), Joey Logano (15), Martin Truex Jr. (14), Regan Smith (12), Jeff Burton (9), Denny Hamlin (8), Bobby Labonte (7), Brian Vickers (4), Juan Pablo Montoya (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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