It was a Penske Racing weekend. Not only did Brad Keselowski win the Truck Series race Thursday, Ryan Blaney won the Nationwide race Friday and Joey Logano took a win away from Matt Kenseth, passing him with 44 laps to go Saturday night. Logano became the fifth different driver to win three races this season and will be seeded fourth once the Chase seeding is set.
It was a rough weekend for a number of the top drivers in Thunder Valley. Only four of the Power Ranking top 10 after Michigan finished in the top 10 at Bristol including Logano, Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle. And what is Bristol without controversy? While battling for the lead, Kevin Harvick turned Denny Hamlin into the inside wall, collecting Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Hamlin showed his frustration, throwing his HANS device at Harvick as he passed. No penalties will be levied to Hamlin for that burst of anger.
With Logano’s win Saturday night, four non-win positions are still up for grabs with two races left before the Chase begins. Anything can happen in Atlanta and Richmond as drivers desperately position themselves to either win or make the Chase on points. As we prepare for the Labor Day holiday weekend, see if your driver made it out of Bristol without too much damage.
How The Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings 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… 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first-place driver, 19 for second, and so on. In the end, Mike Mehedin calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and… here you go!
Gordon leads Earnhardt in points? I must have hit 1.21 gigawatts and gone back to the future to 1995. Dennis Michelsen, RaceTalkRadio.com
First Place Votes: 8
Well folks, take your pick. Will it be Hendrick or Penske for the Championship? Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
First Place Votes: 2
The 2012 champ might be playing second-fiddle to his teammate right now, but wait until the Chase begins. Seems to bring out the best in him and Paul Wolfe. Vito Pugliese, Frontstretch.com
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
His car from Saturday night has to be a lock to make it to his car graveyard. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
There is no more disappointing two-win driver and team right now than Harvick and the No. 4. A pit road speeding penalty cost him a shot at his third win of 2014. Can you imagine how many wins he would have if not for all the mistakes? Justin Tucker, Frontstretch.com
Only the No. 48 team can blame a paint scheme for bad luck, roll out a new scheme and go out and finish in the top 5. Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com
Matt Kenseth could be saving all his 2014 wins for Chase territory. That could be a highly valuable savings program. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
With just two races left before the Chase cutoff, Greg Biffle could squeak into the playoffs or blast to a spot with a win. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Ever so quietly building his case to be a darkhorse inside this Chase. Flashed a top-5 car at a road course, cookie cutter, short track and with a restrictor plate all within the last two months. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
Didn’t contend for a win at Bristol, but three Roush Fenway Racing cars in the top 10 bears mentioning, if only from a feel-good standpoint. Jim Noble, ESPN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/PRN
Something keeps telling me that the Gibbs cars are going to hit on something once the Chase begins. The question is, will the No. 11 team be one of them? Jim Noble, ESPN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/PRN
A case could be made that the No. 15 team doesn’t belong in the Chase, and then you look and realize that he’s somehow sitting 10th in points. Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com
He’s been consistent, much like Kenseth, but a win would allow him to breathe a little easier. Jeff Wolfe, Frontstretch.com
A classic case of what momentum does to a race team. Following his win, the No. 47 team bested their results from earlier this season at Michigan and Bristol. Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com
If he would stop hitting the wall so darn much, maybe this rookie would win a race – and make the Chase. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
Others Receiving Votes: Kyle Busch (62), Jamie McMurray (43), Paul Menard (33), Jeff Burton (25), Kasey Kahne (25), Aric Almirola (23), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (20), Marcos Ambrose (8), Austin Dillon (7), Brian Vickers (3), Michael McDowell (2), Tony Stewart (2), Justin Allgaier (1), Ryan Blaney (1)