Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2011 AAA Texas 500

And now, it is down to two. While there are still nine drivers mathematically eligible to win the Sprint Cup championship, it is realistically a two-horse race barring a calamity of epic proportions befalling both Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards. The top two drivers in the points standings finished first and second in the AAA Texas 500 and distanced themselves from the rest of the Chasers.

Matt Kenseth’s misfortune at Martinsville, followed by the good runs by the top two at Texas has killed his hopes while Kevin Harvick‘s learned top 10s are not good enough. And of course, while the clarity was coming to the top, the most talked about story of the weekend was Kyle Busch being parked for his shenanigans in the Truck Series.

Did Stewart’s victory give him more separation from the field in the Power Rankings as well? Is Edwards still within striking distance of the top spot? How far did Busch drop after his lack of judgment on Friday night? And who is the highest rated non-Chase driver eight races in? Check out this week’s Power Rankings to see if your favorite driver was able to keep his six shooters loaded or if they fired all of their rounds two weeks early.

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Tony Stewart (4) 118 1
Since Stewart’s “dead weight” removal – four wins, eight races, three points away from his first championship since 2005. Man, that ex-girlfriend must have been really heavy.
2 Carl Edwards (2) 116 2
This past weekend was quite similar to the year Edwards won at Atlanta and then realized Jimmie Johnson finished second. He looked like he really expected to have a big lead leaving Texas.
3 Matt Kenseth 101 6
Changing his diet in order to help his racing: Peanut M&M’s, Snickers, Twix and Starburst for dinner. Are you listening, Mars?
4 Kevin Harvick 91 3
And the light at the end of the tunnel gets dimmer and dimmer.
 T-5 Jeff Gordon 88 8
Using the end of this Chase as a building block for the following year. But how many times have we said that lately about a four-time champ whose chances for number five are slipping away?
T-5 Kasey Kahne 88 T-11
For the team, desperation is a powerful motivator. For the driver, knowing he’s leaving for the best ride possible has to give him a little extra boost. Two different motives, but one clear goal to win a race. It could still happen.
7 Jimmie Johnson 77 5
Has to be a weird feeling to be out of it at this point in the season for the first time in six years.
8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 72 T-11
Who would have ever thought that the highest-finishing Hendrick driver in the Chase could be Junior? One more slip-up from J.J. and it’s possible.
9 Brad Keselowski 63 4
Has to be feeling good about this year even though he is going to come up short of the big prize.
10 Greg Biffle 62 NR
Interesting that Biffle, not in the Chase never seems to have sponsor concerns while they are a constant for Kenseth.
11 AJ Allmendinger 53 NR
Still looking like one of these days he might break through with a win, but we’ve been saying that for a while now.
T-12 Clint Bowyer 51 15
Karma can be a bitch; hope Bowyer doesn’t have a flat screen from Aaron’s!
T-12 Marcos Ambrose 51 NR
The stars just might be lining up for Ambrose to take his first win on an oval, even though some folks call it a roval down in Phoenix.
14 Martin Truex Jr. 45 NR
Don’t look now, Martin, but a bad year appears to put you out of your seat at Michael Waltrip Racing.
15 Denny Hamlin 41 7
Shouldn’t the elder statesman at Gibbs pull the young Busch aside and bitch slap some sense into him?
Dropped Out: Jeff Burton (9), Ryan Newman (10), Kurt Busch (13), Kyle Busch (14)
Others Receiving Votes: Ryan Newman (36), Jeff Burton (26), David Ragan (23), Paul Menard (15), Kyle Busch (14), Kurt Busch (14), Trevor Bayne (14), Regan Smith (3), Casey Mears (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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