NASCAR Power Rankings Heading Into Kentucky

By Kevin Van Pelt

The Sprint Cup Series turned right and left this weekend as they tamed the first road-course race of the season. In what was expected to be a race full of carnage and aggression, turned out to be a race that had more respect and sensibility. The race was still a good one as Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch battled for the victory for most of the second half of the race.

Let’s take a look at this week’s rankings as the NASCAR teams prepare to go to Kentucky.

1. Jimmie Johnson– He ran third for what seems like the entire day but wound up finishing fifth. Johnson was a little disappointed after the race, but he should be all smiles. In the past six races, Johnson has five top-five finishes. His slow start to the season is clearly a thing of the past now as Johnson continues to roll. Last week: 1

2. Matt Kenseth– If you told Kenseth before the weekend that he would start the race in ninth and finish in 13th he probably would have laughed. He is noted as hating road-course racing and doesn’t have much success doing it either. It was a solid day for Kenseth as he actually spent most of the day in the top 10. Last week: 3

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.– Well the winless streak is now up to one. It wasn’t a good day for Junior, as he spent most of the day in the back and got caught up in a wreck with two laps to go. However, don’t expect this bad day ruin the momentum this 88 team has. They will be a threat this weekend at Kentucky. Last week: 2

4. Clint Bowyer– Last week when asked who would win the race at Sonoma, I mentioned two sleepers, Bowyer and Jamie McMurray, both of whom are very underrated road-course racers. Bowyer previously had three finishes of fourth at Sonoma and has adapted to the track very quickly. This win was not a fluke for Bowyer, he will be in contention to win more road races throughout the rest of his career. Last week: 6

5. Greg Biffle– A solid seventh place finish for Biffle this weekend. This gives the Biff two top 10’s in a row after struggling for a few weeks. Kentucky is the perfect track for the Roush-Fenway drivers to go to and Biffle should be a strong contender. Last week: 4

6. Brad Keselowski– His 12th place run is just what he needed. Sonoma is not one of his best tracks and if he can salvage top-15 finishes on his bad tracks then he should be in good shape staying in the top 10 in points. It may seem like Keselowski is a lock for the chase so he can just go for wins; however, he needs to focus on being consistent so he can be in the top 10 and utilize those bonus points. Last week: 5

7. Tony Stewart– Two straight second-place finishes for Smoke and three straight top three finishes as well. Stewart looks like he is having a season similar to last season. He has a few race stretch where he looks awful and then follows it up with top five finish after top five finish. Last week: 10

8. Martin Truex Jr.– Not sure if he was stronger than Bowyer, but he was close to it. The three pit stop strategy didn’t work out and more bad luck struck Truex at Sonoma after getting spun out late in the race. Hopefully for Truex he will have an uneventful race there once in his life. Last week: 7

9. Kevin Harvick– A disappointing run for Harvick who is usually good on the road courses. He ran out of fuel during the last round of green flag pit stops which put him even further behind, but he was able to rally back to 16th. Last week: 8

10. Jeff Gordon– After running out of gas midway through the race, it seemed like another great fun for Gordon would be halted by another problem. However, this time Gordon was able to come back and finish in the 6th spot. Two straight top 10’s is not the wins that the 24 team are looking for, but it helps put them in better wild-card position by moving them up the standings. Last week: 12

11. Denny Hamlin– The team meeting will be interesting at JGR after Joey Logano spun Hamlin out. I don’t think there is a worse possible way to leave a race then at the hands of your teammate. Last week: 9

12. Marcos Ambrose– Two straight poles and four top 10’s in the past six races has Ambrose on a tear as of late. An eighth place run is probably not what Ambrose was looking for at Sonoma, but overall it was a good day for the Aussie. Last week: NR


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