Race Weekend Central

The 10: Bristol Battles Through the Night & Day

It was a long weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway.

In a race dubbed the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, rain pelted the field after just 31 laps of green-flag racing on the half-mile Tennessee oval, forcing a postponement that left many referring to it as a day race despite its name.

Still, due to the track’s efforts to improve the inside line with a polishing, running of Kentucky Speedway’s tire monster and addition of a chemical known as VHT to add grip, the field put on a great show when they finally did roar to life for the final 450 laps at the Last Great Coliseum.

Kyle Busch led early, Kurt Busch rose into contention and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., rode the high line into the runner-up spot late. In the end, it was Kevin Harvick that led the way to give Stewart-Haas Racing its first team win.

Was the win enough to bump Harvick back into first, or did Rowdy’s early dominance justify keeping him in the top spot? Let’s find out.

POWER RANKINGS: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Edition


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“His win sparks the age old debate about Cup drivers winning in Busch. Harvick also assumes the classic points lead from Keselowski, which is like telling him he has a $50 Blockbuster gift card.” – Doug Turnbull, PRN
“Happy” days are here again.” – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch

2.  KYLE BUSCH (87 POINTS, -1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Gets the award for the best helmet toss of the weekend, even if his target was his own car.” – Pete McCole, AutoRacing1
“A dominant run with a bad result doesn’t mean that’s always going to be the case.” – Joseph Wolkin, Frontstretch


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Quite simply, Brad was a victim.  He couldn’t avoid the spinning Kurt Busch and ruined his day as a result.” – Phil Allaway, Frontstretch

“Caught a bite of bad luck on Sunday. He will be a factor and extra motivated at his home track this weekend.” – Dustin Albino, Frontstretch

4.   DENNY HAMLIN (60 POINTS, No Change)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“Got a series-leading eighth pit road speeding penalty at Bristol, but still came back for a solid finish.” – Turnbull

“The speed and consistency are there, but Hamlin’s gotta stop shooting himself in the foot with pit road penalties if he wants to repeat 2014’s deep run in the Chase.” – Bearden


(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Must really suck to sit on the pole at a half-mile racetrack and not even lead the first lap.” – McCole

“After his two wins in April, Edwards has been quiet, yet has a series leading five poles. The No. 19 team needs to put an entire race together.” – Albino

 6.   KURT BUSCH (43 POINTS, -1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)

“His lead lap finish streak ended at Bristol, but the No. 41 team is still primed for a good Chase run.” – Turnbull

“Sooner or later, he was going to have a bad day. Better now than in the Chase.” – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch

7.   JOEY LOGANO (34 POINTS, -4)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Seems like every week he’s in a hole early in the race and digs out of it for a top 10. But oh yeah, he dominated Michigan in the spring.” – Albino
“He continues to finish in the top 10, but he still doesn’t have the speed he showed last year.” – Wolkin

8.   MARTIN TRUEX, JR. (26 POINTS, -1)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Martin Truex, Jr., has the kind of luck where he could win the lottery, only to find out his ticket was a phony. This week it was a game of pinball with Kyle Busch and Justin Allgaier that took Truex out.” – Bearden
 “Am I alone in thinking the NRA-sponsored car winning the NRA-sponsored race would have been way too much over the top?” – McCole

9.  TONY STEWART (22 POINTS, No Change)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“The first bad race for Smoke since Daytona and before that Pocono in June. It was awesome to see him doing victory burnouts after finishing 30th. That’s a first.” – Albino
“Lousy finish, but the burnouts were great!” – Gable

10. CHRIS BUESCHER (20 POINTS, Prev. Unranked)

(Photo: NASCAR)
(Photo: NASCAR)
“Won three races ago and placed fifth at Bristol. Now he’s in the top 30 in points. Why not the top 10 here?” – Turnbull

“You can write the Pocono win off as a fluke, but Sunday’s top 5 at Bristol was no joke.” – Bearden


These two drivers came close to winning in a big way at Bristol, but they’ll have to wait another week to return to the top 10.

Jimmie Johnson (13 Points) – “Managed to keep himself mostly out of the mess and picked up a good finish. Perhaps the doldrums have passed for the No. 48.” – Allaway

Austin Dillon (12 Points) – “Came close to the weekend sweep after challenging Harvick for the victory on the final run, and likely punched his Chase bid as a result.” – Bearden

Others receiving votes: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (11), Matt Kenseth (7), Kyle Larson (2), Chase Elliott (1)


Dustin Albino@DustinAlbino
Phil Allaway@Critic84
Aaron Bearden@AaronBearden93
Summer Bedgood@SummerBedgood
Tom Bowles@NASCARBowles
Greg Davis@GregMDavis
Sean Fesko@TheWriterSean
Michael Finley@FinleyFactor
Bryan GableN/A
Tony Lumbis@TonyLumbis
Toni Montgomery@ToniLMontgomery
Kevin Rutherford@surfwax83
Jason Schultz@NASCARJason
Joseph Wolkin@JosephNASCAR
AnnoyingRaceFan @AnnoyingRaceFan I’M @annoyingracefan ON TWITTER (AND INSTAGRAM). PEOPLE CALL ME ARF. I’M A RELATIVE NOBODY.
Brian Eberly@beberly18Writer, Rubbings Racing, Motor Racing Digest
Mike Hembree@MikeHembreeWriter, USA Today
Ben Hinc@lemonlovrOwner, The Apex
Jerry Jordan@kicknthetiresOwner, Kicknthetires.Net
Pete McCole@PeteMcColeNASCAR Writer, AutoRacing1.com
The Orange Cone@TheOrangeConeI am an orange traffic cone.
Kyle Pokrefky@KPokrefkyWriter, The Fourth Turn
Reid Spencer@Reid_SpencerLead Writer, NASCAR Wire Service
Doug Turnbull@DougTurnbullAnnouncer, PRN Live, Atlanta Motor Speedway
Jim Utter@jim_utterNASCAR Editor, Motorsport.com

How they’re made: Following the conclusion of each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, members of a voting panel, including Frontstretch writers, members of accredited media including Motorsport, NASCAR and USA Today, as well as writers from other sites and social media favorites, submit their top 10 drivers for the Power Rankings. The drivers are then given points based off their position, with first place getting 10 points, and each subsequent driver getting one fewer point until the 10th-place driver, who gets a lone point. Points are then tallied, and the rankings are created.

Do you agree with our rankings? Think someone got snubbed, or that one of the top drivers is overrated? Let us know in the comments, and tell others what your top 10 would be.

About the author

A graduate of Ball State, Aaron rejoins Frontstretch for his second season in 2016 following a successful year that included covering seven races and starting the popular "Two-Headed Monster" column in 2015. Now in his third year of covering motorsports, Aaron serves as an Assistant Editor for Frontstretch while also contributing to other popular sites including Speed51 and The Apex. He encourages you to come say hi when you see him at the track.

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