NASCAR Top-10 Power Rankings: Kentucky

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Kyle Busch: Busch led 125 of 267 laps, winning the Quaker State 400 to take the first Sprint Cup race ever at Kentucky Speedway. Busch’s third win of the year vaulted him past Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick to the top of the point standings, where he leads Edwards by four.

[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”253″][/media-credit]”If you told Edwards and Harvick that I ‘jumped’ them both in one night,” Busch said, “then they would have told you they had their backs turned, or were asleep. And speaking of ‘asleep,’ how about Saturday’s race? Some fans claimed they were ‘put to sleep;’ others said they’d like to be.

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“That’s 99 wins for me in NASCAR’s three top series. One more, and I become the sole member of an exclusive club, that being ‘drivers with 100 wins and nothing to show for it.”

2. Carl Edwards: Edwards finished fifth at Kentucky, scoring his series-best 13th top-10 result of the season. He remained in second place in the Sprint Cup point standings, and now trails Kyle Busch for four.

“If you liked racing,” Edwards said, “then you found precious little to like at Kentucky. If Elvis Presley were alive today, I’m sure you’d hear him croon the words to ‘Kentucky Plain.’ However, it was good to see the stands full at Kentucky Motor Speedway. The fans came out in bunches, although most of them didn’t even get to park. By the looks of traffic on Interstate 71, you could say they came out in droves.

“As for the point standings, there’s no shame in second. Kyle Busch is on top now, so for me and the other drivers who trail, we’ll just have to be content in doing what we did at Kentucky, and that’s play follow the leader.”

3. Kevin Harvick: Harvick began the night at Kentucky atop the Sprint Cup point standings, but fell to third after finishing 16th in the Quaker State 400. Handling issues plagued the No. 29 Budweiser team for much of the race, but Harvick rebounding to salvage a respectable result.

“We’re not thrilled with our finish,” Harvick said, “nor with falling out of the points lead. We couldn’t get out of here fast enough. But who wasn’t saying that after Saturday’s race?”

4. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson lost the battle for first with Kyle Busch in the closing laps at Kentucky, and gave up second to David Reutimann’s Toyota on the final lap. Johnson’s third was his sixth top-5 result of the year, and he remains fifth in the point standings, 19 out of first.

“I couldn’t do something that Red Bull could,” Johnson said. “And that’s hold off two Toyotas. I hear there was not a one pass for the lead in the entire race. That’s something NASCAR fans should be used to, because there hasn’t been a pass for the lead in the last five years.”

5. Kurt Busch: Busch led 41 laps at Kentucky, dueling early with younger brother Kyle, and finished ninth, picking up his tenth top-10 result of the year. He remained fourth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 18 out of first.

“As NASCAR’s resident foul-mouth,” Busch said, “I feel compelled to comment on the traffic fiasco at KMS. Organization in and around the track in Sparta was anything but ‘spartan.’ In fact, it made nearly everyone, especially those stuck in traffic, want to ‘Sparta-cuss.’

“Qualifying was washed out by rain on Friday, so the starting order was set by practice times. In light of the traffic problems on Saturday, I found it amusing that there was “gridlock” on Friday and Saturday.”

6. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth posted his tenth top-10 finish of the year, and seventh in the last nine races, with a sixth in the Quaker State 400. He is now sixth in the point standings, 22 behind Kyle Busch.

“There wasn’t a single on-track pass for the lead all night,” Kenseth said. “It seems the ‘race’ off pit road was the only race of the night. I’m not sure who was louder with their ‘boring’ chants, the fans in the stands or those on Interstate 71.

“I’ve got two wins and I’m sixth in the point standings, which puts me in great position. Once the Chase For The Cup starts, I plan to be right in the middle of things. Which means I’ll probably finish sixth or seventh.”

7. Jeff Gordon: Gordon managed early handling issues and benefited from a timely late caution to come home tenth in the inaugural race at Kentucky Motor Speedway. It was Gordon’s fifth top-10 in the last six races, and he is up to seventh in the point standings, 71 out of first.

“Will the Kentucky date remain on the NASCAR schedule for years to come?” Gordon asked. “Don’t ask me about a ‘return trip.’ Ask the 15-20,000 fans who never made it to the race about their ‘return trip.’

“Anyway, that’s what happens when auto racing encroaches on territory thoroughly dominated by horse racing. Ironically, Kentucky Motor Speedway officials told thousands of fans get out of their cars and ‘hoof’ it.”

8. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: Earnhardt blew a tire with two laps remaining, and finished 30th, his fourth-straight finish of 19th or worse after a run of four consecutive results of seventh or better. He fell one spot to eighth in the point standings, and is now 76 out of first.

“I’ve now gone 111 races without a win,” Earnhardt said. “Now you can now add ‘momentum’ to the list of things I’ve lost.”

9. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin finished 11th at Kentucky in a race dominated by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch. Hamlin improved one spot to tenth in the Sprint Cup point standings, and trails Busch by 95.

“You may have heard,” Hamlin said, “that I almost missed driver introductions because of traffic at the track. I think the best course of action in the future for Kentucky is to move the race to Sunday and continue to urge people to leave early on Saturday to get there.

“Those fans that missed the race due to traffic deserve a refund. And even those that witnessed the race could make a pretty strong case for the same.”

10. Ryan Newman: Newman came home fourth at Kentucky, recovering from falling a lap down to post his fifth top-5 finish of the year. He improved one spot in the point standings to ninth, and is now 86 out of first.

“The No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet gave me trouble early,” Newman said, “but we made the right adjustments, and we caught a few breaks. Then, I went from seventh to fourth in two laps. In short, I’m pleased. Overall, I think coming to Kentucky was a good idea. It’s leaving that was the problem.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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