Going into the biggest race of the weekend, I think we kind of expected more that we saw, but that’s not taking anything away from Bristol.
The biggest question going in was quite simple, would this or would this not be like the ‘old’ Bristol? I think we got an answer loud and clear but with some hesitation. The first two races (NCWTS and NNS) were everything we had remembered from Bristol, prior to the new surface that was paved in between the Spring and ‘Fall’ races. But why is it that the NSCS race was vastly different? The good news, the power rankings weren’t influenced by what condition Bristol was in, as I judged solely on performance and prediction heading into Atlanta next week.
Here are this week’s power rankings, you will find that Brad Keselowski is on the move once again. Where did your favorite driver end up? Keep in mind, there will only be two more power rankings columns before the Chase begins, then things will get a little more interesting!
1. BRAD KESELOWSKI— Keselowski has four top-three finishes in the last four races, he’s hitting all of his strides at the right time. Previous rank: 4.
2. KYLE BUSCH — Busch didn’t have the finish he was looking for at Bristol (where he has been so successful), but Busch can practically win at any of the remaining tracks- still a threat! Previous rank: 1.
3. JIMMIE JOHNSON — Finally, Johnson seems to be scoring top-five’s every week. With the Chase just around the corner, this could be scary for some drivers. Previous rank: 2.
4. JEFF GORDON — Is it me, or does it seem like Gordon seems really ‘confident’ about his chances of winning a championship this year? Previous rank: 3.
5. MATT KENSETH — ’Mr. Consistency’ has become rather consistent this year, expect him to be a threat next week at Atlanta (possible three wins for Kenseth…. hmm?). Previous rank: 5.
6. CARL EDWARDS — It’s safe to say that Edwards has not ‘fallen off the wagon’ quite yet, he could get hot at any moment, especially with the Chase starting up in a couple of weeks. Previous rank: 7.
7. KEVIN HARVICK —Harvick is rather lucky he only dropped one spot. Even though they are sitting P5 in points, the RCR bunch did not perform well, resulting in mandatory team meetings on Sunday. Previous rank: 6.
8. KURT BUSCH — Two speeding penalties and a slow stop did not stop Busch from exceeding expectations. Busch still had a top-20 finish, when all else looked like failure. Previous rank: 9.
9. RYAN NEWMAN — Newman seems to be on a little ‘tear’ as he is racking up some consistent finishes. This is somewhat surprising, since his boss (Tony Stewart) has been unable to do so. Previous rank: 8.
10. DALE EARNHARDT JR. — Junior finished P16, which the tally is now up to nine out of the last 10 races he has finished P14 or worse. Surprisingly, he’s still in the top-10 in points. Previous rank: 10.
11. TONY STEWART — This past weekend was not a great weekend for Stewart, as he was weak in qualifying and not a threat during the race, even though he promised he wouldn’t be back there long in the driver intro’s. Previous rank: 11.
12. CLINT BOWYER — Bristol was a great opportunity for Bowyer to make up ground for the Chase, but a P26 finish hindered him from achieving his goal. Previous rank: 12.
13. GREG BIFFLE — A flat-tire in the beginning of the race ruined Biffle’s chances of making the Chase. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some more changes made to the 16 crew before the start of the 2012 season. Previous rank: 13.
14. DENNY HAMLIN — Can you believe Hamlin was able to stay out of trouble the entire race at Bristol? Better believe it, because now he could be a serious threat! Previous rank: 14.
15. PAUL MENARD — Was not a good day for Menard, however I still have some hope for him, which is why he’s staying put at P15 in the Power Rankings. Previous rank: 15.
16. AJ ALLMENDINGER — Remember, consistency is the key to winning the championship. The ‘Dinger has finished between P10-P15 10 times this year, incredible! Previous rank: 16.
17. KASEY KAHNE — A P11 finish was a quiet one for Kahne, as he stayed out of the spotlight for most of the weekend. Previous rank: 18.
18. MARTIN TRUEX JR. — Holding off Gordon for P2 is almost a win in Truex’s mind, a pretty solid performance for the driver of the 56. Previous rank: Unranked .
19. MARK MARTIN — Martin’s car might have been tough to beat, if it wasn’t for the wreck that sandwiched the front and rear of his car. Previous rank: 17.
20. JOEY LOGANO — A pretty solid day for Logano, as he finished P13. Previous rank: 20.