Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Writer Power Rankings: Top 15 After Phoenix-1

<div style=\"margin: 20px; width: 275px; float: left; border: 0px solid black; padding: 3px\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/1952.gif\" border=\"0\" alt=\"Frontstretch Power Rankings\" width=\"206\" height=\"202\" /></div><div><div><div>The backflip is back! Carl Edwards survived a green-white-checkered finish and broke a 70-race winless streak in Phoenix to capture his first win since Las Vegas in 2011. Ironically, this is the same track Edwards broke his first 70-race winless streak at, back in November 2010.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div>Tire wear was the major story leaving Phoenix as a majority of cautions were a result of right-front tire failures. Those among the victims included Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick, who both fell out of the race from damage due to blown Goodyears.</div><div><br /></div><div>Also a top story was track position. Early leaders Mark Martin, Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne were strong throughout the first half of the race, but Martin and Kahne couldn&rsquo;t recover after falling back into traffic due to ill-handling race cars. Edwards was the only one of that trio to finish inside the top 15. &nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div>In the end, the cream rose to the top. Nine of the top-10 finishers Sunday were in the top 10 in the final 2012 point standings. It&rsquo;s still early in the season but Jimmie, Brad and Junior are making statements. Did Carl Edwards&#39; victory help propel him up the rankings? Or does Jimmie Johnson reign supreme with back-to-back top-2 finishes? Read on to find out:</div><div>&nbsp;</div></div><div><strong>How The Rankings Are Calculated</strong>: 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, Michael Mehedin calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and … here you go!</div></div><table border=\"0\"><tbody></tbody></table><table border=\"0\" cellspacing=\"4\" cellpadding=\"0\" bgcolor=\"#a0a0a0\"><tbody><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td colspan=\"4\" align=\"center\"><strong>FRONTSTRETCH TOP 15 POWER RANKINGS: March 6th</strong></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td><strong>Rank</strong></td><td><strong>Driver (First Place Votes)</strong></td><td><strong>Votes</strong> </td><td align=\"right\"><strong>Last Week</strong></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>1</strong></td><td><strong>Jimmie Johnson (10)</strong></td><td align=\"right\">219</td><td align=\"right\">1</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Appears that Johnson is in &ldquo;Chase Mode&rdquo; mode a little early this year. <em>Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>2</strong></td><td><strong>Brad Keselowski</strong></td><td align=\"right\">199</td><td align=\"right\">2</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Don&rsquo;t look now but the champ is looking like he&rsquo;s ready to make five-time earn number six. <em>Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>3</strong></td><td><strong>Dale Earnhardt, Jr. </strong></td><td align=\"right\">194</td><td align=\"right\">3</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Two good races on totally different tracks, a good sign for Junior Nation. <em>Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>4</strong></td><td><strong>Denny Hamlin</strong></td><td align=\"right\">168</td><td align=\"right\">7</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">BONZAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIII!!!!! <em>Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>5</strong></td><td><strong>Clint Bowyer </strong></td><td align=\"right\">163</td><td align=\"right\">5</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Happy with a solid, sixth-place performance, but probably would have preferred that finish a lot more the last time the series visited the desert. <em>Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>6</strong></td><td><strong>Matt Kenseth</strong></td><td align=\"right\">152</td><td align=\"right\">6</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Matt showed what TRD power can do without any issues. <em>Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>7</strong></td><td><strong>Carl Edwards</strong></td><td align=\"right\">150</td><td align=\"right\">NR</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Good to see the focus in the grandstands after the race was for a driver celebrating a win, not debris from an accident. <em>Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>8</strong></td><td><strong>Tony Stewart</strong></td><td align=\"right\">137</td><td align=\"right\">11</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">The boss had to prove that an SHR car could make it to the finish. <em>Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>9</strong></td><td><strong>Jeff Gordon</strong></td><td align=\"right\">135</td><td align=\"right\">9</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Could see Clint Bowyer at the end of the race but couldn&rsquo;t get close enough to dump him again. <em>Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>10</strong></td><td><strong>Greg Biffle</strong></td><td align=\"right\">128</td><td align=\"right\">4</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">The rollercoaster that is Biffle&rsquo;s season is heading towards hill number two. <em>Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>11</strong></td><td><strong>Kevin Harvick</strong></td><td align=\"right\">100</td><td align=\"right\">13</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Hoping the entire &ldquo;baby in the car&rdquo; during pre-race has been put to bed, <em>Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>12</strong></td><td><strong>Kasey Kahne (1)</strong></td><td align=\"right\">89</td><td align=\"right\">10</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Kasey continues to dig a hole much like he did in 2012. On the positive side, the hole isn&rsquo;t as big as it was this time last year. <em>Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>13</strong></td><td><strong>Mark Martin</strong></td><td align=\"right\">74</td><td align=\"right\">14</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">Fondly recalls the days when four new tires made your car faster than those competitors that opted for only two. <em>Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>14</strong></td><td><strong>Kyle Busch</strong></td><td align=\"right\">60</td><td align=\"right\">8</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">The natural flow of Sunday&rsquo;s race guaranteed that the early spin would keep him from being able to record a decent finish. <em>Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr bgcolor=\"#ffffff\"><td align=\"center\"><strong>15</strong></td><td><strong>Aric Almirola</strong></td><td align=\"right\">58</td><td align=\"right\">NR</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\">It will be a while before Aric is considered a threat for anything, but sitting ninth in points after two races is a good start. <em>Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com</em></td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\"><strong>Dropped Out</strong>: Danica Patrick (15), Ryan Newman (12) </td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\"><strong>Others Receiving Votes</strong>:&nbsp;Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (52), Jeff Burton (43), Ryan Newman (39), AJ Allmendinger (27), Marcos Ambrose (27), Martin Truex, Jr. (23), Juan Pablo Montoya (21), Kurt Busch (15), Joey Logano (14), Paul Menard (11), Casey Mears (6), J.J. Yeley (3), Danica Patrick (2), Bobby Labonte (1).</td></tr><tr><td colspan=\"4\"><strong>Who Voted</strong>: <a href=\"http://twitter.com/Critic84\">Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com</a>; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/NASCARBowles\">Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com</a>; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/KellyCrandall%22\">Kelly Crandall, SpeedwayMedia.com</a>; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/dustinlong\">Dustin Long, Athlon Sports</a>; <a href=\"http://twitter.com/tonylumbis\">Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com</a>; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/MikeyMehedin\">Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com</a>; <a href=\"http://www.facebook.com/RaceTalkRadio\">Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com</a>; Brad Morgan, Frontstretch.com; <a href=\"http://www.facebook.com/MNeffshorttracj\">Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com</a>; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/surfwax83\">Kevin Rutherford, Frontstretch.com</a>; <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/jeffwolfe206\">Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com</a>.</td></tr></tbody></table>

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