Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2011 AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta

Sherman may have marched through Atlanta back in the Civil War, but it was Tropical Storm Lee who stormed through this past weekend, causing the Sprint Cup race to be postponed until Tuesday (Sept. 6) for only the second time since 1978. While the track was washed clean of rubber it didn’t take long for the cars to be racing all over the surface and it took even less time for Jeff Gordon to establish himself as the car to beat.

The last 10 laps of the race were some of the most exciting this season as Jimmie Johnson chased down Gordon and the two battled like the nine-time champions they are until the last lap of the race. While the television coverage was focused on the battle for the top spot, Tony Stewart made a furious charge from eighth to third in the final 10 laps, finishing just ahead of Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards.

Gordon scored his 85th victory in Sprint Cup competition. Will this win be enough to move him to the top of the Power Rankings? Is Johnson’s assumption of the number one spot in the points standings what it is going to take to give him the top position? Can Stewart reap some benefits from a strong run that no one saw?

Read this week’s Power Rankings to find out if your favorite driver was able to stay afloat through Tropical Storm Lee of if their hopes for the postseason were washed out to sea in a rip tide.

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Jeff Gordon (3) 115 2
In the 62-year history of this sport, only two men at NASCAR’s highest level have more victories than Gordon. Just think about that one for a minute.
2 Jimmie Johnson (1) 111 3
There are a lot of teams in the garage who would love to be struggling like the current points leaders.
3 Brad Keselowski 105 4
Whoops! Crisis! Crisis! Keselowski only finished sixth this week. We need a Denny Hamlin conflict! Kurt Busch spouting off! A bat to smash another ankle! Something, anything before this Miller Lite ship starts sinking!
4 Kyle Busch 100 1
Started the day looking like a contender, ended the day looking like Morgan Shepherd.
5 Carl Edwards 98 7
Not sure what was uglier: Maryland’s new uniforms or that splotching of 10 different colors that doubled as Edwards’s paint scheme. Either way, it got the job done.
6 Matt Kenseth 96 5
Gordon may be the chic topic for possibly beating Johnson for the title but Kenseth is primed to become the second driver to win titles pre and post Chase.
7 Kevin Harvick 74 T-10
Happy finally looking like he might be able to finish mid pack in the Chase.
T-8 Ryan Newman 71 6
Not sure how it happened but somehow there was a mix-up in the paint booth at SHR. They painted the good car in Office Depot colors and the crappy one in Army Reserve colors.
T-8 Kurt Busch 71 13
Finally reminded the world there’s more to Penske Racing than just Keselowski. But can both of them challenge for the title and coexist?
10 Denny Hamlin 58 14
Richmond is going to set the stage for whether Hamlin contends or just takes up space in the Chase.
11 Tony Stewart 57 NR
Made one of the best charges of the entire season, from eighth to third in the final 10 laps and nobody saw it.
12 AJ Allmendinger 49 T-10
Greg Erwin has been the best pickup for Best Buy since, well, that new iPad 2 thingy came out on sale.
T-13 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 43 8
Another day of looking like junk but finishing off with about the best his car had to offer. One more race like that and he’ll be in the Chase, for what that is worth.
T-13 Martin Truex Jr. 43 15
Who knew the best thing to happen for Michael Waltrip Racing this season would be firing one of their top personnel?
15 Marcos Ambrose 28 12
NASCAR’s latest love connection, the only regret for the NAPA Toyota team is that crew chief Chad Johnston and Mr. Truex weren’t paired up sooner.
Dropped Out: Kasey Kahne (9)
Others Receiving Votes: Greg Biffle (27), Jamie McMurray (17)
Joey Logano (17), Kasey Kahne (14), Clint Bowyer (13), Jeff Burton (13), Juan Pablo Montoya (10), Brian Vickers (9).Paul Menard (6), Regan Smith (6), Mark Martin (5), JJ Yeley (2) and 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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