By Lars Anderson
May 18, 2005
NASCAR Power Rankings
Rank LW Driver
1 1
In 11 races this season, JJ has more top-10 finishes (eight) than any other driver. He suffered his worst finish of the year last Saturday night in Richmond when he got caught up in an early wreck and came in 40th, but he should get back on track with the two upcoming races at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte. Last year, after all, JJ won both the All-Star race and the Coca-Cola 600.
2 4
After finishing sixth at Richmond, Biffle has moved up into second in the points standings -- the highest ranking of his career. More impressive, he's led more laps this season (739) than any other driver. Clearly, he's going to remain a major factor deep into autumn.
3 2
Gordon's up-and-down season continued last Saturday night, where at Richmond he had his third DNF of the season and finished 39th. Gordon has also won three races, which means in about half his starts this year he's either taken the checkered flag or not finished. If he's going to win the championship -- and I still think he will -- he'll need to be more consistent.
4 3
Busch has been in the top 10 in points for 46 straight weeks, which is the longest active streak in NASCAR. He's still trying to do some PR work to make people forget about his little bottle-throwing incident at Darlington, but that will soon be forgotten. Busch hasn't been particularly strong at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the past -- in nine starts at the track, he has only one top-10 finish -- but I have a hunch he'll win one of the next two races there.
5 5
At this juncture last year, Sadler ranked 10th in the points standings; now he's fourth. After finishing seventh at Richmond, Sadler has six top 10s in '05. If there's one driver not in the Roush or Hendrick stable that's capable of winning the title this year, Sadler looks to be that guy.
6 NR
T-Stew is on a roll. He finished second to Kasey Kahne at Richmond, which gives him three straight Top 10s. Expect his momentum to continue at Lowe's, where in 12 career starts he has nine Top-10 finishes.
7 9
Harvick continues to flash the kind of talent that many in the garage have been waiting two years to see. At Richmond he came in fifth, which was his fourth top 10 of the season. He's currently eighth in points and looking more and more like a driver who's going to qualify for the Chase.
8 NR
Rocket Man came in third at Richmond, which was his best finish of the season. For the past week the garage has been abuzz with rumors that Newman might be leaving his owner Roger Penske after the season. According to the scuttlebutt, both Jack Roush and Ray Evernham are very interested in acquiring the services of Newman, who still has one year left on his contract with Penske.
9 7
Junior made a nice comeback at Richmond. After falling down a lap, he was able to get back on the lead lap and he finished 14th in spite of having an extremely ordinary car. He now has seven straight finishes of 15th or better, a sign that his team is gaining strength as the season is progressing.
10 NR
After six second-place finishes in the first 46 starts of his career, Kahne last Saturday night finally took a checkered flag. This will no doubt be the first of many victories for Kahne, who is as talented as any driver in the garage. Though he's currently only 15th in the points, it says here that Kahne will make a serious charge up the standings over the summer months and qualify for the Chase.

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