Dustin Long: Jimmie Johnson locks Chase spot, climbs back atop NASCAR Power Rankings

Last weekend NASCAR raced on what some called the new-old Bristol, after changes to the track surface turned it back into a one-groove speedway. This week’s Power Rankings also could be called the new-old rankings with Jimmie Johnson taking back the top spot from Brad Keselowski.
1. Jimmie Johnson
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 17
A runner-up finish on Saturday that clinched a Chase spot, along with Brad Keselowski’s woes, puts Johnson back into the Rankings’ top spot. Johnson’s performance at Bristol is his fourth top-10 finish in the last six races. “Momentum is key,” Johnson said. “Pit stops were strong. It’s all more reps and very helpful moving forward, and locking (a Chase spot) is awesome. Takes a huge weight off our shoulders.”

2. Brad Keselowski
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 13
Keselowski finished 30th after his car was hit from behind and wrecked. It ended his streak of seven consecutive top-10 finishes — with five of those finishes in the top five. Saturday’s result cost him the top spot in the Power Rankings. “We weren’t prepared for the track to drive this stupid and that’s what it is,” Keselowski said. “I know the goal was to make a one-groove racetrack so there’d be more action. But it had an inverse affect to where now everybody is running up against the wall. And the pace of the field, combined with hard tires has made the track just even more of an aerodynamic fest.”
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 16
Earnhardt clinched a Chase spot by finishing 12th. He has three top-five finishes in the last six races but has placed outside the top 10 in the other three races. “I made a little mistake and came down a closed pit,” Earnhardt said about Saturday’s race. “I don’t know what we were thinking. But we had a fast car. The car was so fast at the start of the race. We just lost that track position and couldn’t get by some guys.”
4. Greg Biffle
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 14
After missing out last year, Biffle clinched a Chase spot by placing 19th. And despite his worst finish in the last six races, he remains the points leader. “This wasn’t the run we were looking for,” Biffle said. “We pitted at the end to try and make the car better and learn something, but it was probably the wrong thing to do because we lost about eight spots. We weren’t going to win, so we thought we might as well try what we can.”
5. Kasey Kahne
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 13
Finished ninth after running through oil dumped by another car and bouncing off the wall while leading. This is Kahne’s sixth top-10 finish in the last eight races, and he has not finished worse than 13th during that stretch. “It was as solid of a day as a team can have after hitting the wall that hard,” Kahne said of his result.
6. Clint Bowyer
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 14
His seventh-place finish at Bristol is his fourth consecutive top-10 finish and fifth in the last six races. He and teammate Martin Truex Jr. could clinch a Chase spot this weekend at Atlanta, which would represent the first time Michael Waltrip Racing has made the Chase.
7. Matt Kenseth
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 14
He’s in the Chase by clinching at least a wildcard spot despite finishing 25th after an incident with Tony Stewart as they battled for the lead. Kenseth has finished outside the top 10 in five of the last six races.

8. Denny Hamlin
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 12
Hamlin scores his first career Cup victory at Bristol and the 20th of his career. “As long as we don’t have a failure or we don’t get in a wreck, we can win anywhere we go,” Hamlin said. “And that’s something that we have not had since 2010.”
9. Martin Truex Jr.
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 13
Eleventh-place finish marks the sixth consecutive race he’s finished 11th or better. He’s been consistent, placing between eighth and 11th in five of those six races.
10. Brian Vickers
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 3
He finished fourth at Bristol to score his third top-five finish in six starts this season for Michael Waltrip Racing. Vickers is helping make people forget his driving at the end of 2011 and show he’s deserving of a full-time ride next season. The question is he can land any of the few remaining Cup rides left for next season. View full post on SI.com – Motorsports

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Posted by fmv on Aug 28 2012 Filed under Racing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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