Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2012 Auto Club 400 at Fontana

Mother Nature just couldn’t seem to make up her mind on Sunday (March 25). While the day started off with sunshine and perfect temperatures, it ended with a steady downpour that even the most positive-thinking NASCAR official couldn’t stay optimistic about.

That meant the rain brought Tony Stewart what looked to be inevitable for him, anyway at the oval — a victory, his second in five races this season. Clearly the fastest car all day, Stewart beat out the Joe Gibbs Racing pair of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin who were two of the pre-race favorites.

Was Smoke’s continued strong start, the best of his 14-year Cup career enough to propel him to the top of our rankings? Or did Greg Biffle’s quiet yet consistent run keep him atop the standings? Keep reading 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
1Tony Stewart (6)211T-7
If Stewart doesn’t heat up until summer, will anyone else even have a chance this season? Mike Neff, Frontstretch
2Greg Biffle (3)2041
The new “Mr. Consistency” is still quietly atop the standings, but that famished “win” column is going to need some fuel to keep him there. Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
3Kevin Harvick (2)1933
Showing well at all different types of tracks, but not overdoing it while clearly building for the postseason. Is this the Jimmie Johnson model at work over at RCR? Tom Bowles, Frontstretch
4Dale Earnhardt Jr.1756
I hate to admit it, but Junior is leading the way for Hendrick so far. Are we living in an alternate universe? Amanda Ebersole, SkirtsandScuffs.com
5Jimmie Johnson1704
Look past “Five Time” at your own peril! Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com
6Matt Kenseth1482
Suddenly finds himself as the guy with the win but inconsistent finishes otherwise at Roush Fenway Racing. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
7Carl Edwards14512
Struggling to get a top-five finish at a track that’s his bread and butter? Third-best in points among the three Roush Fenway cars? Where is the real Edwards? Did they trap him inside one of his old Nationwide cars they threw away by mistake? Tom Bowles, Frontstretch
T-8Denny Hamlin14210
Looked like the one to beat until it really mattered. Oh, and it was that way this weekend in Fontana too. Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
T-8Kyle Busch142T-14
Is it just me, or does the season seem oddly quiet without a Kyle Busch blowup? Though it seems even quieter with his brother’s newfound calm.  Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
T-8Martin Truex Jr.1425
My how times have changed when an eighth-place finish causes Truex to lose a place in the standings. Mike Neff, Frontstretch
11Clint Bowyer1069
MWR has impressed me this season and if you do not see the changes and count them as drivers to watch, your loss. AmandaEbersole, SkirtsandScuffs.com
12Ryan Newman97NR
There are worse things in life than playing second fiddle to the defending champion and current hottest driver in the series. Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
13Brad Keselowski90T-7
One step forward and two steps back for Keselowski with finishes of 32nd, fifth, 32nd, first and 18th so far this season. Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
14Paul Menard5711
Menard is starting to get back to regular form — running mediocre with a multimillion-dollar sponsor. Those top-10 runs look to be, once more, nothing but an early season fluke. Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
15Mark Martin55NR
If Martin wants to run such a limited schedule and still be competitive, maybe he should look into the Truck Series. They haven’t run since Daytona, and are just returning this weekend. Then again, he seems to be doing just fine right where he is. Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
Dropped Out: Jeff Burton (13), Joey Logano (T-14)
Others Receiving Votes: Jeff Burton (38), Kurt Busch (36), AJ Allmendinger (34), Jeff Gordon (32), Joey Logano (30), Kasey Kahne (23), Juan Pablo Montoya (21), Regan Smith (16), Marcos Ambrose (2), Jamie McMurray (1)
Who Voted: Phil Allaway, Frontstretch; Tom Bowles, Frontstretch; Carolyn Brewster, NASCAR Illustrated; Kelly Crandall, Speedwaymedia.com; Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch; Amanda Ebersole, Skirtsandscuffs.com; Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch; Dustin Long, Athlon Sports; Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com; Mike Neff, Frontstretch; Matt Taliaferro, 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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