Brant James
Tuesday August 24th, 2010

NASCAR Power Rankings

Kyle Busch gets called an "ass," but is a winner. Jimmie Johnson is a winner, but has had asinine fortune recently. Clint Bowyer is fortifying the final Chase for the Championship spot as Mark Martin becomes an ever-shrinking dot behind him. Not too much drama for a post-Bristol week. Have a comment? Send to You can also follow me on Twitter at

1Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch
Busch rallied from last place to win the truck race; responded to a late pass to the lead from Brad Keselowski to spin Keselowski brazenly (having at it, apparently) and win the Nationwide race; used a potent No. 18 Toyota to capitalize on Jimmie Johnson's misfortunes and lead 282 laps of the Sprint Cup race, becoming the first to sweep the top three NASCAR events in one weekend. Keselowski also called him an "ass" in front of 150,000 in pre-race introductions, but that was just a little spice. If this guy can finally put together a Chase for the Championship requisite to the rest of his seasons, it should be an interesting autumn.
2Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick
Things were just too placid for the points leader. Despite producing quality finish after quality finish, no matter the surface or course type and signing new sponsors, Harvick had a bout with adversity on Saturday. Irate over tire pressure changes he said made his No. 29 Chevrolet worse, he railed at crew chief Gil Martin over how such a lack of adaptability would cost them a chance at a first Sprint Cup title. Then he rallied, albeit a lap down, to finish 14th. Never mind.
3Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon
An anonymous 11th-place finish on Saturday kept him an anonymous second in points, 279 back.
4Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie Johnson
The four-time defending series champion and crew chief Chad Knaus don't have any chats about karma or celestial balance during the debriefs, but maybe they are becoming philosophical about the last half-decade of their careers. "What we have done is really hard," Johnson said. Hard and requiring a certain amount of good fortune, whether borne of meticulous attention to detail or the chaotic potential of a million moving parts on a race track at any given moment. This year parts have broken, drivers have run into the No. 48 Chevrolet, either by apparent freak of occurrence (AJ Allmendinger at Darlington) or some other reason (Juan Pablo Montoya, Saturday), Johnson has made his own uncharacteristic mistakes (pit road speeding at Dover) and the "golden horseshoe" has vanished. After a 35th-place finish on Saturday dropped him to ninth in points, Johnson is left to recoup before the Chase ... where he will start either seeded first (with Denny Hamlin) or second with five victories. Maybe he's just flushing his karmic bilge right now. Again, hard to say, but Knaus is probably trying to find some software for that.
5Greg Biffle
Greg Biffle
With a win behind him this season and a solid foothold on a Chase berth with two races left until the playoffs, the former Trucks and Nationwide Series champion continues to prepare. That seems to be coming along fine, especially given the until-recent struggles of both Ford and Roush Fenway. Aside from a 24th-place finish at Watkins Glen -- where he was fast all weekend but was relegated to a poor result when he was caught in an incident between Tony Stewart and Boris Said -- Biffle has been charging with a win and three top-5s in his last five races. "Overall, it was a good night for us," he said on Saturday. "I think it was a good night in the points. We're thinking about the Chase. I definitely wanted a better night than that, but an eighth is okay."
6Carl Edwards
Carl Edwards
A loose lug nut curtailed what could have been a better night, but 12th place wasn't awful. A run of six consecutive top-10s (average finish: 4.3) ended, but he continues to improve..
7Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth
The 2003 series champion recovered from a potentially disastrous flat tire to finish 10th, but isn't satisfied, even after posting his first top 10 in nine weeks. He knows he'll need more in the Chase. "It's not just what we needed to do tonight, we need to do it every weekend," he said. "We need to get running better and get running more consistently in the top 10. I mean, we finished 10th tonight but that needs to be your worst finish if you're going to contend for a championship, so we need to keep working on it and get a little better."
8Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch
After failing to finish in two of his previous three races, Busch found a respite and a steadying ninth-place finish. Steadying, but unsatisfying at a track where he has won five times. Busch remains comfortably in the Chase at 10th in points, and will percolate higher with his two wins so far this season. But his performance probably isn't likely to earn him that "employee of the week" certificate at Team Penske, what with IndyCar driver Will Power winning for the fifth time after recording a series-best eighth pole at Sonoma.
9David Reutimann
David Reutimann
A nasty case of food poisoning briefly knocked him out of the car before race day, but he qualified fifth, and finished a gutty second, leading 25 laps before Kyle Busch assumed control. The 40-year-old Floridian continues to bloom late in his stock car career, pushing for what would have been a personal-best second Sprint Cup win in a season after capturing the checkered flag at Chicago. It was his first runner-up finish in Sprint Cup.
10Clint Bowyer
Clint Bowyer
A plucky fourth-place finish -- after starting 24th and running as far back as 26th after a pit road speeding penalty -- likely helped him cement the 12th and final playoff berth and helped make a quarter of the Chase field Richard Childress Racing drivers (Roush Fenway also has three).

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