Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Martinsville II

Frontstretch Power Rankings
Happy Halloween! How many drivers do you think are "scared" after last weekend's crazy race at Martinsville? I can tell you Jimmie Johnson is nothing but confident with three races left, though the margin between he and Brad Keselowski should at least make him slightly nervous. The sixth-place result from the No. 2 team, a career best from their driver leaves the two-time Chaser within striking distance.
Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin is dressed up as an "underdog," all but out of this championship after a mechanical failure ruined an already frustrating day for the No. 11 team. Barring a miracle, he'll leave Homestead emptyhanded to make his Chase record a disappointing 0-for-7.
How far did Hamlin fall in our rankings this week? And who will our writers have at the top in such a tight race — Johnson or Keselowski? Continue 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 Bedgood calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and … here you go!

Rank Driver (First Place Votes) Votes Last Week
1 Jimmie Johnson (7)  159 1
Mission accomplished. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com
2 Brad Keselowski (1) 151 2
Has performed admirably over the past couple of weeks. However, if the No. 2 team is going to take the championship, they have to do much more than survive once the Chase enters its stretch run. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
3 Clint Bowyer 141 4
5-Hour Energy pill wore off after only three hours at Martinsville. Would have loved to see this guy pull the upset, though because there's no doubt a man with nothing to lose would have made the final three races real interesting. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
4 Kasey Kahne 134 T – 5
Kasey seemed like the fourth Hendrick car on Sunday, regardless of the excellent finish he ultimately had. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
5 Jeff Gordon 124 8
Texas is a "checkers or wreckers" type track for Gordon, which is exciting. But neither of these scenarios will make him relevant in this championship again. Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com
6 Denny Hamlin 108 3
Hamlin's 2012 Chase chance shorted out at Martinsville. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
7 Matt Kenseth 101 T – 5
Weird Chase quirk: five of Kenseth's seven Chase finishes have been first or 14th. The other two? 18th and 35th. If that's not the definition of inconsistency, well, I'm not quite sure what is. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
8 Kyle Busch 98 12
I thought non-Chaser Kyle Busch would be extremely dangerous to Jimmie Johnson in the final laps of Martinsville. After all, that chrome horn isn't difficult to use. Yet while Busch was able to race Johnson aggressively… he stayed clean. Yes, he ultimately fell short, but the racing had no impact on Johnson's Chase. A step in the right direction? I'd say so. Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com
9 Greg Biffle 96 10
You probably did a "double take" looking at the results. Yes, The Biff did have a top-10 finish at Martinsville. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
10 Martin Truex, Jr. 85 7
Despite a bad penalty, losing a lap for changing lanes on a Martinsville restart Truex could still be in line for a career year. There's only one thing missing from 2012 to make those two words a reality: Sprint Cup win. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
11 Tony Stewart 70 9
Where there's Smoke, there's fire as Stewart showed during the live TV broadcast of practice this weekend. Too bad that was the only thing memorable about Stewart at Martinsville. Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com
12 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 66 15
Had a decent comeback Sunday, but he's probably not happy with the finish. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
13 Brian Vickers 52 NR
Vickers may have earned a full-time ride in the eyes of many fans, and I bet you MWR would agree. That's why he's sticking around once that old fart… er, I mean, veteran… fully retires from that No. 55 car. Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com
14 Paul Menard 47 14
With "Slugger" back in place and two 1.5-mile ovals left on the schedule, Menard's looking to hit a home run of an upset over the season's last three weeks. And who would have guessed that at this point, out of RCR's three-driver stable he'd be the one with the best chance to get to Victory Lane? Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
15 Ryan Newman 43 NR
Needed the first 10 cars to be taken out in a wreck this time if he was going to take home the checkers at the paperclip-shaped track. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
Dropped Out: Carl Edwards (13th), Kevin Harvick (11th). 
Others Receiving Votes: Aric Almirola (41), Kevin Harvick (38), Carl Edwards (35), Joey Logano (27), Mark Martin (16), Bobby Labonte (11), Jeff Burton (11), Kurt Busch (11), Regan Smith (5), Landon Cassill (3), Marcos Ambrose (3), Sam Hornish, Jr. (3), Jamie McMurray (1). 
Who Voted: Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.comSummer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com; Carolyn Brewster, NASCAR Illustrated; Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com; Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com; Dustin Long, Athlon Sports; Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com; Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports.

Contact Summer Bedgood

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