Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2012 Bud Shootout at Daytona

If the Budweiser Shootout was any indication, there are two things certain for the Daytona 500: (1) there will be plenty of excitement and (2) the fans will still complain about it. Between Jeff Gordon’s tumble through the infield and Kyle Busch’s makeshift demolition derby car finishing just a couple of inches ahead of defending champion Tony Stewart, there was no lack of drama (or destruction) to warm everyone up for the real thing.

How did your favorite driver’s performance affect his ranking in the first Power Rankings of 2012? How do they compare to the end of last season? Was Busch’s comeback enough to impress our writers and put him atop the board? Check out our Power Rankings as we kick off the start to the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

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, Summer Dreyer calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners and … here you go!

RankDriver (First-Place Votes)VotesLast Week
1Tony Stewart (4)154NA
Sure he’s the defending champion, and he tops the list because of it, but the way in which Busch was able to school him on the last lap of the Bud Shootout was spectacular. It makes you wonder if Busch is just that good or if Stewart was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. 
2Carl Edwards147NA
Speaking of Stewart, now he knows how Edwards felt last season. But Cousin Carl is out to prove 2011 wasn’t a fluke, and starting on the pole for the first points race of the season is just the way to do it.
3Kyle Busch136NA
Busch was able to see Daytona from more angles than any other driver Saturday night (Feb. 19) … and he STILL had the drive to win.
4Jeff Gordon110NA
Alright, so Busch saw the track from more angles than every driver except one. I wonder if Ella gave her opinion on Busch’s night, too?
T-5Dale Earnhardt Jr.107NA
With his ongoing winless drought (129 races and counting), the pressure is on for Earnhardt at Daytona. If he wants to take some advice, he should shave the mountain man offseason beard. It’s probably hurting the air flow of the car. 
T-5Kevin Harvick107NA
Harvick and his wife DeLana are excited about the arrival of their first child, but we bet Harvick wishes the stork would deliver a Daytona 500 trophy too.
7Greg Biffle106NA
Biffle better hurry up and win a Cup title if he wants to be the first to win all three series titles before the Dillon brothers pull it off.
8Brad Keselowski89NA
After the departure of Kurt Busch from Penske Racing, Keselowski takes over as the senior driver in the stable. Which means his @#$% crew had better get the car @#$%ing fixed RIGHT NOW!!!
9Jimmie Johnson83NA
The No. 48 team has reached desperation mode and the season hasn’t even started yet. We could say this is going to be another long year for them, but we can’t help but recall the last time the team was hit with a penalty at Daytona.
T-10Marcos Ambrose71NA
Everyone’s favorite Aussie showed some grit in the Budweiser Shootout, spending quite a bit of time out front and avoiding all the carnage to finish third. It’s easy to underestimate this guy, but it’s very possible he could be a threat on Sunday afternoon. 
T-10Ryan Newman71NA
Nobody ever talks about Newman as the best to never win a title. Maybe after Edwards wins one. Oh, and Mark Martin.
12Matt Kenseth70NA
The Fords look like they have a leg up on the competition heading into the weekend and once again Kenseth is being left out of the discussion. Does anyone even remember he won this race back in 2009? Rain or no rain, he’s done it before and he can do it again. 
13Denny Hamlin50NA
It seems like only yesterday Hamlin was considered the frontrunner for the Sprint Cup Series title. With the way Johnson is performing, though, at least he can somewhat redeem himself and beat the No. 48 team this year. That’d be enough for him, right? 
T-14Kasey Kahne48NA
Even after getting caught up in the first wreck of the day, Kahne was still the highest finishing Hendrick Motorsports driver in the Budweiser Shootout last Saturday. Could we see the same thing at the end of the year? Pffft! You didn’t think we were serious, did you?! 
T-14Kurt Busch48NA
Give Busch props for attempting an Edwards-esque interview after a rough night last night. You cannot give him props, though, for looking like he had just tasted a lemon while giving said interview.
Others Receiving Votes: AJ Allmendinger (47), Trevor Bayne (39), Clint Bowyer (31), Martin Truex Jr. (31), Jeff Burton (28), Mark Martin (21), Jamie McMurray (16), Juan Pablo Montoya (15), Casey Mears (13), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (12), Paul Menard (8), David Ragan (5), Joey Logano (4), Danica Patrick (3), Elliott Sadler (3), Michael Waltrip (1), Regan Smith (1)

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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