Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2011 Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega

One-hundred eighty-eight laps around Talladega wound down into a two-car dash to the finish with Clint Bowyer crossing the line in the first spot, edging out his teammate Jeff Burton. Carl Edwards played the conservative role for the majority of the race and survived with an 11th-place finish, which allowed him to increase his points lead over Matt Kenseth, who is now in second place.

Kevin Harvick took a big hit, being caught in an early wreck and struggling his way to a 32nd-place finish which dropped him to fifth in points while Brad Keselowski continues to remain a viable threat for the title, sliding back up into third place thanks to his fourth-place finish.

Will Edwards increase his lead thanks to staying out of trouble on Sunday (Oct. 23)? Did Kenseth close the gap on Edwards even though he lost some ground in the Chase on Sunday? How far did Harvick fall after he got caught up in the early wreck that ruined his day? Check out this week’s Power Rankings to see if your driver pushed his way to the top of the rankings or got spun out in the pack on the way to the finish line.

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Carl Edwards (5) 119 1
The fat lady isn’t warming up just yet, but someone saw her in the driveway.
2 Matt Kenseth (1) 110 2
His spotter got a tattoo this weekend of his number and signature. Imagine what he’d have done if he won.
3 Tony Stewart 101 5
Four drivers left with a realistic shot at the title and Smoke is at the back of the pack.
4 Kevin Harvick 99 2
Now we’ll see if the No. 29 team can play catch up because slow and steady won’t get it done from here.
5 Brad Keselowski 94 8
Anyone else notice that the two main Dodge entries at ‘Dega weren’t working together?
6 Kyle Busch 84 4
Busch will have to put on a Jimmie Johnson-like charge to snag the big trophy now.
7 Kasey Kahne 83 7
It’s a shame Kahne didn’t run like this all season – he’d be on the verge of a title if he had.
8 Jimmie Johnson 75 6
Mathematically alive but sitting in an iron lung.
9 Marcos Ambrose 59 9
Heading to Martinsville wear road racers tend to run well; the problem is Ambrose hasn’t quite figured it out.
10 Denny Hamlin 55 15
Don’t look now, but Hamlin is on the verge of heading to the banquet in Las Vegas.
11 Kurt Busch 52 10
Now that the towel has been thrown in, will Addington come clean about his plans for next season?
12 Jeff Gordon 51 12
For a moment there, we thought a Maury situation would erupt after Trevor Bayne was pretty much forced to ditch him with two laps remaining.
13 Ryan Newman 46 11
If they ever decide to blow up the plate tracks, Newman will be begging to push the plunger.
14 Clint Bowyer 43 NR
For everyone who thought his team was going to lay down because he’s a lame duck … pfbpfbpfbpfbpfb (raspberries).
15 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 38 14
Really wonder what his old man would’ve said if someone suggested he run around at the back for most of the day.
Dropped Out: AJ Allmendinger (13)
Others Receiving Votes: Greg Biffle (37), AJ Allmendinger (30), Jeff Burton (23), David Ragan (20), Dave Blaney (11), Martin Truex Jr. (10), Brian Vickers (10), Paul Menard (6), Travis Kvapil (1), Juan Pablo Montoya (1)
Writer Voters Include: Phil Allaway, Tom Bowles, Bryan Davis Keith, Tony Lumbis, 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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