NASCAR Top-10 Power Rankings: Dover

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Carl Edwards: Edwards finished third at Dover, leading 116 of 400 laps, and gained a share of the Sprint Cup point standings. Edwards is tied with Kevin Harvick atop the standings, with a nine point lead over Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart.

“Luckily,” Edwards said, “I don’t do a back flip for third place finishes. And, judging by Saturday’s result, I don’t do back flips for wins, either. It used to be called a ‘somersault;’ with the change of season, it’s now called a ‘fall.’”


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2. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson held off Carl Edwards in the closing laps in the AAA 400 to take the runner-up spot at Dover. Johnson vaulted five spots in the point standings to fifth and is 13 out of first.

“Many though my slow start in the Chase indicated that I was ‘going nowhere,’” Johnson said. “Well, they were right, because this strong finish indicates that I’m ‘not going anywhere.”

[media-credit id=26 align=”alignright” width=”203″][/media-credit]3. Kevin Harvick: Harvick finished tenth in the AAA 400, a solid effort considering Dover is not one of his strongest tracks. He did, however, move in to a tie in the points lead with Carl Edwards, with a nine point lead on Tony Stewart in second.

“It’s great to be on top in the Sprint Cup point standings,” Harvick said. “But the issue with leading is one that is much akin to Clint Bowyer’s future with Richard Childress Racing—staying there.”

4. Kurt Busch: Busch left Jimmie Johnson after a late restart and cruised to the win in the AAA 400, his second win of the year and first of the Chase. Busch climbed from ninth to third in the point standings, and trails co-leaders Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick by ninth.

“It’s doubly satisfying to pass Johnson for the win,” Busch said. “I know ‘slaps in the face,’ and that had to feel like one to Johnson.

“My win certainly tightens up the point standing in the Chase For The Cup. My brother knows all too well that when you put a Busch brother out front, things get ‘tight,’ particularly Kyle’s nerves.”

5. Tony Stewart: After two wins to start the Chase, Stewart’s luck ran out at Dover, where handling issues left him in an early hole from which he couldn’t escape. He finished 25th, two laps down, and fell out of the Sprint Cup points lead.

“I guess winning three races in a row was too much to expect,” Stewart said. “Otherwise, I may have ran away with the Sprint Cup title. In this case, the third time was the charm for 11 other Chase drivers. But ‘winning three’ isn’t easy; that’s something I’ve spent the last ten years learning.”

6. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth, who won at Dover in May, took fifth in the AAA 400, collecting his eighth top-5 result of the year. He remained sixth in the point standings, where only 19 points separate the top nine drivers.

“We took two tires on the final pit stop in May,” Kenseth said. “We took four this time. Suffice it to say we were ‘dis-May-ed’ with our finish.

“My esteemed teammate Carl Edwards is tied for the lead in the point standings with his esteemed arch-nemesis Kevin Harvick. That makes for an interesting situation, and I, like most others, can’t wait to see which one ‘chokes’ first.”

7. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski finished a disappointing 20th at Dover, amazingly his first finish outside the top 12 since a 35th at New Hampshire in July. He fell three places in the point standings to sixth, and trails the leaders by 14.

“We had a good car until our power steering failed,” Keselowski said. “You could say we were ‘cursed’ by mechanical issues, which is definitely not the first time the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge has been ‘cursed.’ Heck, Kurt Busch used to drive this car.”

8. Jeff Gordon: Gordon qualified 34th at Dover, and with track position at a premium, could only manage a 12th-place finish. He fell four places to ninth in the point standings, and is 19 out of first.

“We’ve dug ourselves a hole,” Gordon said. “That’s not as bad as my Hendrick teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He dug himself a grave.”

9. Kyle Busch: Busch bounced back from two sub-par finishes to start the Chase with a sixth at Dover, his 17th top-10 finish of the season. He eighth in the point standings,15 points out of the lead.

“A sixth-place finish is encouraging,” Busch said, “but knowing you started the Chase with the lead just three short weeks ago is discouraging. But I’ve got my head up. I understand Denny Hamlin has employed a sports psychologist to improve his attitude. Many people say I need psychological help. My supporters say I don’t need psychological help, just an evaluation. Anyway, if a sports psychologist could tell me anything, he’d likely say ‘You’re still in the driver’s seat.’ And I would likely reply, ‘I’m paying you for this?’”

10. Ryan Newman: Newman finished 23rd, two laps down, after ongoing handling issues left his No. 39 Stewart-Haas Chevy with little grip and poor handling. He is now 11th in the Sprint Cup point standings, 41 out of first.

“Our performance is upsetting,” Newman said. “And I think it showed on my face. Anyone could see that I was ‘drivin’ and (c)Ryan.’

“I’m declaring myself a non-factor in the Chase. And if things work out for me like they did for Tony Stewart, I’ll be back in the thick of things after winning at Kansas and Charlotte.”


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