NASCAR Top-10 Power Rankings: SonomaBy Jeffrey Boswell
Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
“Clint Bowyer was solid in the 5-Hour Energy Toyota,” Johnson said. “But does that necessarily make him a contender for the Sprint Cup title? What’s more impressive? Doing it five times, or for ‘5-Hours?’
“There’s a lot of drivers, Bowyer included, who have a single victory this year. They’re just a drop in the bucket. If five-straight Cup titles is a ‘reign,’ then one win is merely a drop of reign.”
2. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth held on to the Sprint Cup points lead with a 13th at Sonoma. With ten races left until the Chase For The Cup, he leads Greg Biffle by 11.
“As you know,” Kenseth said, “I’m leaving Roush Fenway Racing at season’s end. However, I’m not at liberty to discuss my contract situation. And that’s sad, because the one time I have something to talk about, I’m not able to.
“In any case, when I do sign a new contract, it will be the first time I’ve been paid for my autograph in ages.”
3. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: After snapping a 143-race winless streak with a victory at Michigan on June 17th, Earnhardt followed with a disappointing 23rd in the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Earnhardt was running 13th when he spun on the final lap. He is now third in the point standings, 14 out of first.
“I can’t be too upset for not winning at Sonoma,” Earnhardt said. “No, not because I just won at Michigan, but because Junior Nation would never forgive me for drinking wine.”
4. Tony Stewart: Stewart passed Kurt Busch with one lap to go to take the runner-up spot at Sonoma. Stewart chased Clint Bowyer to the checkered flags, but finished .829 behind, and is now eighth in the point standings, 74 out of first.
“The hard part was getting around Busch,” Stewart said. “He’s never easy to overtake, unless it’s in a test of mental stability. I know Kurt is struggling to find sponsorship, but I think now is the time for Planter’s to get back into sport. What better sponsor for Busch than ‘nuts?’”
5. Greg Biffle: Biffle’s No. 16 3M Fusion was the first Ford across the line at Sonoma, finishing seventh for his ninth top 10 of the year. He remained third in the point standings, and trails Matt Kenseth by 17.
“I’m just happy I didn’t have a confrontation with Boris Said,” Biffle said. “I surely don’t want to wake with ‘Said Head’ almost as much as I don’t want to wake up with a ‘Said Head.’ His fans are crazy, and not even my type.
“But I finished seventh, while Boris finished 29th. And Boris, of all people, knows a ‘whuppin’’ when he sees one.”
6. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer dominated at Sonoma, leading 71 of 112 laps for his first win of the year. Bowyer pulled away from Kurt Busch on the green-white-checkered finish, and held off Tony Stewart down the stretch. Bowyer is ninth in the point standings, 84 out of first.
“I’m proud to give Michael Waltrip Racing its first win,” Bowyer said. “You can best believe Michael won’t stop talking about this, ever. Now I can say I’ve won one for the ‘gabber.’
7. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin suffered difficult day at Sonoma, spinning on lap 94 after contact with Joe Gibbs teammate Joey Logano, and finishing 35th after a DNF due to suspension failure. Hamlin tumbled three places to eighth in the point standings, 73 out of first.
“Logano wrecked me,” Hamlin said. “By the way, he’s still in negotiations for a new contract with JGR. If he’s back with Gibbs, that will be two of us resigned—Joey re-signed to a new contract, and me resigned to being his teammate for longer.”
8. Martin Truex, Jr.: Truex led 15 laps in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 before fading to finish 22nd. He remained seventh in the Sprint Cup point standings, 68 out of first.
“First,” Truex said, “Dale Earnhardt, Jr. wins at Michigan. Then, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. gets a ride at Roush Fenway Racing. It appears I’ll be the final ‘Junior’ to achieve glory in NASCAR. As ‘Junior’s’ go, they should start calling me ‘Martin Truex, III.’”
9. Kevin Harvick: Harvick finished 16th in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 after running out of gas midway through the race, costing him several positions. Harvick and the No. 29 Rheem team salvaged a decent finish thanks to the Lucky Dog free pass on lap 83. He now sits sixth in the point standings, 64 out of first.
“This is shaping up to be a forgettable season,” Harvick said. “Of course, when I say this could be the worst nine months of my life, I guess I should clarify that it’s me talking and not my pregnant wife DeLana.”
10. Jeff Gordon: Despite running out of gas on lap 73, Gordon battled back to record a sixth-place finish at Sonoma. NASCAR’s all-time road course win leader posted his second consecutive sixth-place result as he tries to make a move towards a berth in the Chase.
“I hear Matt Kenseth is leaving Roush Fenway Racing at season’s end,” Gordon said. “It’s unclear whether Matt is leaving under his own accord or was pushed out. Knowing Matt as I do, I’m almost positive he was pushed.”