Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2012 Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix

After the “now I’ve seen everything” week that was Daytona, Sunday (March 4) rolled around and it was business as usual at Phoenix International Raceway. With plenty of passing and side-by-side racing, there definitely wasn’t a shortage of drivers to watch as the laps ticked away.

But it was Denny Hamlin who headed to victory lane with Kevin Harvick on fumes behind him. Where are they ranked in this week’s Power Rankings and where did your favorite driver end up? Continue reading below to find out.

How the Rankings are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football – our expert stable of NASCAR writers, both on staff and from other major publications 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
1Denny Hamlin (5)1883
In this corner, a challenger whose scars needed treatment from a new mechanical doctor to help them heal. Along with him, a trainer seeking redemption after being ditched by the reigning champ. Is this Rocky or NASCAR? Either way, we have a suddenly dangerous combination ready to throw some knockout punches early in 2012. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch
2Kevin Harvick (1)184Tie – 6
“The Closer” could not be “The Saver,” therefore he was not “The Winner.” Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
3Greg Biffle (2)1702
Third at Daytona, third at Phoenix, it only makes sense to place Biffle third in our Power Rankings. Toby Christie, RubbingsRacing.com
4Kyle Busch14213
Running this well, this early is a testament to how Joe Gibbs took an offseason to drill in Kyle’s head there’s no more mulligans. But you have to admit, when battling rivals like Harvick it’s not as fun to watch when you know a Busch brother is powerless to fight back. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch
5Matt Kenseth1341
How much is that Daytona 500 trophy worth? Kenseth may have to sell it; he’s still seeking sponsorship for a whopping 41% of the schedule! The Great American Curse, continued. Let’s just hope he avoids Lyme Disease. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch
6Mark Martin124NR
First time since 2007 that Martin has began the season with two top-10 finishes, when he also was starting a part-time schedule for a new team. At this rate, just like that year many will be calling for him to stay in the car when Bristol arrives. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch
7Martin Truex Jr.12210
Even though it’s only two races in, MWR has had a fairly strong start to the season, at least as far as the expectations were concerned. If they can just get Clint Bowyer to shake the monkey off his back, they might be able to get all three cars inside the top 10 in points next week. Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
8Brad Keselowski117T-15
Clearly, Penske’s best hope to capture a season title. But will the biggest obstacle come from Dodge now that the No. 2 team is effectively a Charger lame duck in March? Tom Bowles, Frontstretch
9Dale Earnhardt Jr.1144
Finishing top 15 through attrition at Phoenix was acceptable in a rebuilding year. But after making the Chase in 2011? Junior expects more in 2012 and he said as much on the radio. Las Vegas is more make-or-break for this team than people think, even with a strong start in the points.” Tom Bowles, Frontstretch
10Carl Edwards (1)109T-6
He came. He raced … and no one noticed. Shouldn’t last year’s runner-up have led a few laps in the series by now? Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
11Jimmie Johnson99NR
After a fourth-place run at Phoenix even after a rough week in Daytona, how many of you are still convinced Johnson is in danger of missing the Chase? Another few runs like last week and he’ll back inside the top 10 anyway. Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
12Joey Logano9814
While resisting the urge to make the obvious “stale bread” joke, it looks like Logano has either reached desperation mode or crew chief Jason Ratcliff was the boost he needed to run the way everyone expected him to. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get “burnt” as the season winds down (couldn’t help it). Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
13Tony Stewart (1)858
Talk about having a Marcos Ambrose moment when shutting the car off. Cost Stewart a top-10 finish. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com
14Jeff Gordon69NR
His season hasn’t had the greatest start, but at least he’s finished on all four wheels in both races. Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
15Jeff Burton635
Had another great run going in Phoenix until he was bitten by the engine gremlins. Toby Christie, BleacherReport.com
Dropped Out: Paul Menard (9), Clint Bowyer (11), Marcos Ambrose (12), Dave Blaney (T-15)
Others Receiving Votes: Bobby Labonte (39), Marcos Ambrose (34), Kurt Busch (28), Regan Smith (28), Ryan Newman (27), Juan Pablo Montoya (23), Darian Grubb (20), AJ Allmendinger (18), Clint Bowyer (18), Dave Blaney (14), Aric Almirola (13), Paul Menard (10), Kasey Kahne (6), Travis Kvapil (3), David Ragan (1)
Who Voted: Phil Allaway, Frontstretch; Tom Bowles, Frontstretch; Carolyn Brewster, SceneDaily.com; Toby Christie, RubbingsRacing.com; Kelly Crandall, Speedwaymedia.com; Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch; Amanda Ebersole, Skirtsandscuffs.com; Bryan Davis Keith, Frontstretch; Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch; Dustin Long, Athlon Sports.

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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