NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 22

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 22

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 22
By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jeff Gordon — After starting from the pole, leading 51 of 88 laps, and holding a two car-length lead over Tony Stewart with two laps remaining, Gordon spun in turn one, handing Stewart the win on a silver (non-restrictor) plate. Gordon recovered to finish ninth, but the disappointment on throwing away his first win in over two months was evident.

"Sure, I'm upset," says Gordon. "Not only does this have a huge impact on this year's race for the championship, but the magnitude of my legacy is at risk here, as well. If I win at the Glen, then my fifth Cup championship is looking solid. That would put me three titles ahead of Stewart. Now, with my spin and Stewart's win, he's looking solid for his third title. That would put him only one behind my four. So yeah, I'm upset. But not too upset that I can't laugh at the new set of spinners that my crew put on my tires before they loaded it into the hauler."

2. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin finished second at Watkins Glen, benefitting from Gordon's spin to chip 22 points from the lead of Gordon, who finished ninth. Before Gordon's spin, Hamlin was looking at the possibility of falling 400 behind in the points. Now, he trails by a mere 344.

"You think I made up ground at Watkins Glen?" says Hamlin. "Wait until after Richmond, the last race before the Chase. That's when I'll really make my move on Gordon, thanks to the Chase format. Everybody benefits from the Chase format, except for the guy leading the points by 300 points after 26 races."

3. Tony Stewart — Facing a practically insurmountable two car-length deficit with two laps to go, Stewart knew it would take an unlikely event, a Gordon mistake, to change the outcome. And that's what happened. Gordon spun in turn one, Stewart breezed by and drove to victory. It was Stewart's third win this year, all in the last four races, and all but guaranteed him a seed no worse than third when the field is reset in four weeks.

"I know exactly how Gordon lost it in turn one," says Stewart, "because I did the same thing earlier in the race. And I'm pretty sure I know what Jeff said when he spun. Well, I'm not exactly sure what he said, but I know it has four letters and it cost him $25,000 less to say it than it did me."

4. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth, still honing his road course acumen, finished a respectable 12th at Watkins Glen, but the real excitement in his day came during a red flag 15 laps from the finish, when a fan jumped a guardrail to ask Kenseth for an autograph. Kenseth politely declined, and the fan was escorted away and transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, classified by the government as an "enemy combatant."

"Hey, did you just use 'excitement' and 'Matt Kenseth' in the same sentence?" asks Kenseth. "That's got to be a first. Anyway, it was quite a bold move by that fan, but it really irritates me. The nerve of some of these people. It's one thing to jump a guardrail onto the track, but to come up to me and ask me if could get Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s autograph? Well, that's just downright rude."

5. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson scored his second-straight third-place finish, following Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin across the line in the Centurion Boats at the Glen. Johnson remains seventh in the points, 595 behind teammate Jeff Gordon.

"I'm just as surprised as anyone that Gordon missed that corner," says Johnson, who'd like to remind folks that he's the defending Nextel Cup champion. "Some may say it was due to the pressure of being trailed by Tony Stewart. I know Jeff, and that kind of thing doesn't get to him. He is, however, affected when talentless Welsh singers butcher the Star Mangled Banner. He must have been thinking of that when he lost it."

6. Carl Edwards — Trailing Stewart late in the race, Edwards made a last-ditch effort to pass in the multi-turn Inner Loop section. His attempt was unsuccessful, and he took a spin in the dirt before escaping to finish eighth. Edwards moved up one spot to fifth in the points, 560 out of first.

"And nearly 300 ahead of 12th place," boasts Edwards, "which practically guarantees me a spot tin the Chase. So expect to see more daring and crazy moves like that in the remainder of the races before the Chase, from drivers jockeying for an extra 10 points. Which, of course, will inevitably lead to more crashes and more shoving matches. Let's just hope those shoving matches pack a little more excitement than the Kevin Harvick/Juan Pablo Montoya lovefest. You may call it a shoving match, but it looked to me like they were checking the closeness of each other's shaves."

7. Martin Truex, Jr. — Truex clipped Montoya on lap 72, sending the Colombian spinning into Kevin Harvick's No. 29 Chevrolet and triggering the confrontation that mysteriously led to a game of "patty cake" between Harvick and Montoya. Wisely, Truex kept driving and brought home a sixth-place finish, which held the 11-spot in the points.

"I can't complain," says Truex. "At least my engine made it to the finish, unlike Dale, Jr.'s. I don't know where his luck's been worse, with engines or mothers-in-law. At least you can replace an engine."

8. Kevin Harvick — Harvick, Montoya, and Truex were battling in the top 10 when Montoya and Truex got together, leaving Harvick nowhere to go but into Montoya. Harvick wrongly assumed that Montoya was at fault and confronted him, sending Colombian-American relations back about, oh, say a day or two. Harvick was able to get his car back to the garage, and he eventually finished 36th.

"I'd like to apologize," says Harvick. "Not to Montoya, but to everyone who expected a real fight with real punches. Most people have probably seen more physical contact at a seventh-grade prom, or in soft-core porn. The real tragedy is that we looked like two bobblehead dolls out there. As if we didn't look silly enough."

9. Jeff Burton: — Burton's run at the Glen ended abruptly when he rammed the spinning car of Juan Pablo Montoya, who had tangled with Burton's Richard Childress teammate Kevin Harvick. The No. 31 AT&T Chevrolet was done, and the impact was so severe that the sponsor logo was knocked clear off the car. Burton finished 40th, which dropped him two places to sixth in the points.

"It was a tough situation for me," says Burton. "Not only was my car totaled, but I didn't know whether to play peacemaker or support my teammate by kneeling behind Montoya while Kevin pushed him over. I hear that move is a sign of disrespect in Bogota."

10. Kyle Busch — Busch joined teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon in the top 10 with a seventh in the Centurion Boats at the Glen. Busch remained eighth in the points, 627 out of first.

"I saw several Centurion Boats at the Glen," says Busch, "but none in water. But that's beside the point, and so is the official announcement of me joining Joe Gibbs Racing next year. 'Official' simply means I put on a suit and read a prepared statement in which I say nice things about people I care little about. My future teammate, Tony Stewart, was nice enough to write the speech for me."

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Re: NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 22

Top Ten Things Said to Matt Kenseth by the Crazy Fan at The Glen

10. “Dude, I’m going to the beer tent. You need anything?”

9. “Hi Matt! My buddy bet me five bucks that I wouldn’t run out here and meet you. Is he stupid or what!?”

8. “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought this was a taxi.”

7. “I’m Loren Wallace. Jack (Roush) sent me to tell you to get out! I’m gonna finish the race!”

6.
“Wash your windshield for fifty cents!?”

5. “I’m Morgan, the NEW Kissing Bandit. I wanted Jeffy, but you’ll have to do. Pucker up and give me a nice wet one, big boy!”

4. “Hey man, can you give me a ride to the bus stop?”

3. “‘Sup dude? My name’s Shane…eh…Hmiel! Yeah, that’s it, Shane Hmiel. I just wanted to see one of these cars up close and meet a real race car driver …..uhhhhh…….oh, now I remember…..you got any EZ Widers?”

2. “Hey man, you got a cordless screw gun in here? I’m trying to fix the awning on my camper and I thought, well…since it said ‘Dewalt Tools ON the car… I thought I’d take a chance.”

1. “Hi Matt. Thomas Bowles, Managing Editor with Frontstretch.com here…you got a minute? I’d just like to ask you a few questions if I may…”

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