Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2012 Southern 500 at Darlington

It was only a matter of time and Saturday’s race at Darlington Raceway (May 12) solidified what everyone already expected to eventually happen: Hendrick Motorsports’ 200th career victory. Jimmie Johnson was the driver who was able to seal the deal, which came as little surprise to anyone who has been following the sport for more than six years.

Meanwhile, a tangle on pit road between Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and their crews overshadowed the win, in addition to some solid runs by drivers like Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin.

How did their top-five runs impact their position in our Power Rankings? And was Johnson’s win enough to volt him to the top? 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
1Greg Biffle (2)1481
The No. 16 team, protesting that the Southern 500 should still be run on Labor Day weekend, insisted on setting their car up for a Sunday afternoon rather than Saturday night. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch
2Jimmie Johnson (2)14010
Don’t look now but Johnson has Dale Earnhardt on his radar next on the all-time win list. Mike Neff, Frontstretch
3Matt Kenseth (2)1303
The announcement of the “new number” on Kenseth’s car this year was the only reason anyone paid attention to him this week. Even then, everyone proceeded to quit caring once they realized it was just the confusing name of a bank. Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
4Denny Hamlin (1)1276
Not quite as effective at dumping the leader as his teammate. Mike Neff, Frontstretch
5Tony Stewart129T-8
Can’t wait to get to Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend where there will be 100 extra miles to wreck more cars. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch
6Kyle Busch1145
Text message from Kyle to Kurt: “Hey big bro, thanks for making sure I won’t end up on Darlington’s billboards next year. Appreciate it!” Kelly Crandall, Speedwaymedia.com
7Dale Earnhardt Jr.992
All-Star race weekend will be the one week this year where everyone will be shocked if Earnhardt doesn’t win. Of course we are talking about the All-Star Fan Vote. Otherwise, yes, we will be very surprised. Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
8Martin Truex Jr.9712
A shame Truex’s car owner can’t give him advice about winning anywhere besides plate tracks. Mike Neff, Frontstretch
9Carl Edwards9413
Edwards made more noise during the Nationwide Series race on Friday night, and he wasn’t even in the race! Still, seventh place is nothing to sneeze at. Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
10Kevin Harvick8711 
Y’know Kurt, if you breathe between swear words you can usually rip off a lot more of them in a single rant. Mike Neff, Frontstretch
11Brad Keselowski83
Keselowski made a tremendous comeback through the field in Darlington after contact with the wall, yet somehow still gets overshadowed by former teammate Kurt Busch. Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
12Clint Bowyer69
Bowyer is just happy to make it to the finish ahead of the melee this year. Mike Neff, Frontstretch
13Kasey Kahne64T-8 
I’d say the pressure is on for Kahne to start performing better, but until Jeff Gordon gets his mojo back I’m not sure anyone will even notice Summer Dreyer, Frontstretch
14Paul Menard55T-15 
There is plenty of evidence to signal trouble at RCR when their top-finishing car was 13th … and it was Menard that finished there. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch 
15Ryan Newman47NR 
Overheard while Newman was leaning in the window on pit road: “There’s only one syllable in F$%^! Kurt”. Mike Neff, Frontstretch
Dropped Out: AJ Allmendinger (14th), Jamie McMurray (T-8)
Others Receiving Votes: Joey Logano (41), Kurt Busch (33), Marcos Ambrose (28), Mark Martin (21), Jeff Gordon (19), Jeff Burton (17), Regan Smith (12), AJ Allmendinger (9), Aric Almirola (6), Juan Pablo Montoya (6), David Ragan (3), Jamie McMurray (1), Trevor Bayne (1)
Who Voted: Phil Allaway, Frontstretch; Carolyn Brewster, NASCAR Illustrated; Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com; Summer Dreyer, FrontstretchTony Lumbis, Frontstretch; Dustin Long, Athlon Sports; 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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