The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is heading back to the Bristol Motor Speedway, after an exciting race this weekend at the Michigan International Speedway. This weekend’s race shook things in the wild-card standings, as a couple of contenders for the last spot for the chase had some problems.
There was multiple leaders throughout the race, and there was no clear sign who was going to win. Mark Martin dominated the race early, but got caught up in a scary accident on pit road that ended his day. When Martin was out of the race, it opened the door for new contenders and made for an exciting race that wound up seeing Greg Biffle in victory lane.
Let’s take a look at this week’s power rankings.
1. Jimmie Johnson– The whole weekend was not good for the Hendrick Motorsports engine department. Four engines were lost during the weekend and two of them came from the 48 car. Johnson’s backup engine seemed to be doing just fine the entire race, but with five laps to go, his engine expired while he was leading the race. It was a big loss for Johnson considering that if he won that race he would have separated himself as the only driver with four wins on the season. Last week: 1
2. Greg Biffle– The new points leader was leading the race for a good part of the second half, but it looked like that strategy was going to keep him out of victory lane. However, a caution changed all of that and put the Biff back in contention. It would have been exciting to see if Biffle was going to be able to catch Johnson in the closing laps, but Biffle would gladly take the win how he got it. He may not be talked about a lot as a championship contender, but when the chase comes around keep your eyes on Biffle. Last week: 5
3. Brad Keselowski– Now with seven straight top 10 finishes, Keselowski is the hottest driver in NASCAR right now. No matter what the track is he has a shot to win and he is heading to one of this best tracks this weekend at Bristol. Keselowski is getting hot at the right point in the season and it looks like he might be on a tear once the chase starts. Last week: 4
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.– For a while, it looked like Junior was going to sweep at Michigan if the race stayed under green those last 50 laps. Unfortunately for Junior, the caution did come out, but Earnhardt was still able to come out with another top five finish by finishing fourth. Last week: 3
5. Matt Kenseth– This past month has been nothing but bad for Kenseth. He has been caught up in multiple wrecks and this weekend he got a flat late in the race which took him out of contention for a good finish. Though he has been struggling as of late, fans of Kenseth don’t need to worry yet. He still has fast cars and just seems to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Last week: 2
6. Clint Bowyer– Great all around weekend for Michael Waltrip Racing. All three of his cars were in contention to win at some point during the race with Bowyer getting the best finish of the three MWR drivers with a seventh place finish. Last week: 7
7. Martin Truex Jr.– Still looking for that first win of the season, but the same thing can be set about him that was just said about Bowyer. He finished three spots behind his teammate in tenth. Last week: 8
8. Jeff Gordon– The disappointing weekend for Gordon boiled over when he had a profanity-laced rant over the radio against his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gordon took exception of Junior taking him four-wide in the corner and then coming up in front of him coming off the corner. Gordon wound up being another casualty in the Hendrick engine problems and now has some work to do to catch Ryan Newman for the last wild card spot. Last week: 6
9. Marcos Ambrose– A quiet run for Ambrose who got his second straight top five finish. Early on in the race, it looked like Ambrose was going to have a hard time finishing the race as he kept getting loose when he was under another car. He almost got caught up in two wrecks and got loose and spun into Regan Smith sending him into the wall. He made up some ground to get the last playoff spot, but he still needs to get another win if he wants to get into the chase this season. Last week: 10
10. Kasey Kahne– Kahne was catching Mark Martin early in the race before they were both caught up in an accident. Kahne was able to survive the wreck with no damage, but with it being so hard to pass, it took him nearly the entire race to get back up to the front. It’s still a long shot, but there is still a chance for Kahne to get into the top 10 in points and utilize his two victories he has. One slip by either Denny Hamlin or Tony Stewart and Kahne will be right there. Last week: 12
11. Tony Stewart– The only driver not to be mentioned in the Hendrick engine problems is Stewart. He was the first casualty of the race after he lost a cylinder very early on. It was one year ago after the Michigan race where Stewart had problems and declared he would just be wasting a spot in the chase if they make it. One year later after having problems he didn’t make such a claim. This clearly means he will not be a threat once the chase starts. Last week: 9
12. Carl Edwards– He only has three races left to get a victory and put himself into the chase. With all the talk about the wild-card contenders needing to get a second win, most people forget about Edwards since he doesn’t have a win yet. However, with one win by Edwards, he would put himself in the chase based off his position in the standings. Also, his team seems to be getting better and better as of late, but he is running out of time fast to get that win. Last week: NR
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