Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2011 Ford 400 at Homestead

Coming into Homestead, Tony Stewart knew what he needed to do and, after a couple of snafus early in the race, went out and did it. After 36 races, when all of the laps had been run and the checkered flag flew Stewart and Carl Edwards were tied with 2,403 points each.

But the first tiebreaker is number of wins and, thanks to his effort at Homestead, Stewart had five wins on the season while Edwards had one, handing the championship to Stewart. Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski finished off the top five in points for the 2011 season.

Did Stewart’s dominant run to the championship give him the top spot in the rankings to end the season? Will Edwards wind up second in the poll just as he did in the season’s points race? Is Harvick the third choice for our voters or did Kenseth end up ahead of him after beating him to the checkered flag on Sunday (Nov. 20)? Check out this week’s Power Rankings to find out where everyone ended up at the end of the season as the sport goes dormant for the next three months.

How the Rankings are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football – writers on staff will vote for the top 20 on a 20-19-18-17-16-15 … 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first-place driver, 19 for their second and so on. In the end, Mike Neff calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners and … here you go!

FRONTSTRETCH TOP-15 POWER RANKINGS: NOV. 23, 2011
RankDriver (First-Place Votes)VotesLast Week
1Tony Stewart (6)1202
Talk about going out and taking it to ’em. When even AJ Foyt says you’ve run a perfect race, it’s hard to do anything but sit back and pay your respects to the three-time champ.
2Carl Edwards1141
Tried to win the Chase through math when real racing titles are won through victory lane. But trust us, he’ll be back; the third time is usually the charm, right? Unless you’re Mark Martin.
3Kasey Kahne953
Glad you had a fun year at Red Bull, Kasey! Now, the pressure is going to go up by a power of 10 next season.
4Kevin Harvick934
Third twice in a row wasn’t good enough for him; tearing up the team in order to win a championship was the end result. Gutsy call, but is it the right one?
5Matt Kenseth906
Thanks for your dedication to the sport, Matt. Now, as your reward for a top-five points finish get ready to answer a million questions about why you don’t have a full-time sponsor!
6Jeff Burton7311
OK, so let’s figure this one out. The interim crew chief gives you four top-10 finishes in the last five races, boosting an awful team to 20th in points. So once the season ends, you go out and find a replacement … that struggled all season with a team that ran 23rd? Who’s never crew chiefed a Chevy organization before? Does Richard Childress just want to make sure Burton fails to give Ty Dillon a place to move up?
7Clint Bowyer699
Should have shed a tear over his top-10 finish, because that’s the closest he’ll get to the front in quite a while.
8Brad Keselowski677
Most fans never would have thought he’d be the second biggest jerk at Penske.
9Jeff Gordon6212
Instead of worrying about catching Five-Time, Gordon ought to worry about being passed by Smoke.
10Jimmie Johnson615
“Whatcha doin’, Jimmie?” “Trying to figure out how in the heck you cost us title number six, Chad.”
11Denny Hamlin5513
Amazed that with all the crew chief changes within the past 72 hours, Mike Ford moving on from the FedEx team isn’t one of them. Wonder what kind of compromising pictures he has of Coach Gibbs.
12Ryan Newman5314
Think the boss will let him try on his ring?
13Dale Earnhardt Jr.46NR
Another year without a win on Most Popular’s resume.
14AJ Allmendinger438
Quietly had himself a Jamie McMurray-like season except for the part where he actually wins a race. Can one of NASCAR’s few remaining winless drivers finally engineer a breakthrough in 2012?
15Marcos Ambrose3910
The best Tasmanian to drive in NASCAR this season. Unfortunately for Marcos, he wins that title every year – and it doesn’t come with a trophy plus $8 million in winnings.
Dropped Out: Greg Biffle (15)
Others Receiving Votes: Martin Truex Jr.(38), Greg Biffle (27), Paul Menard (24), Kurt Busch (23), Kyle Busch (13), Regan Smith (11), David Reutimann (9), Joey Logano (7), Mark Martin (6), Cole Whitt (5), Jamie McMurray (4), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (4), Juan Pablo Montoya (3), Austin Dillon (3), David Ragan (2), Mike Bliss (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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