NASCAR Top-10 Power Rankings: Darlington

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson finished fourth in the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington, posting his sixth top 5 of the year and increasing his points lead. He now leads Carl Edwards by 44.

“I’ve finished outside of the top 12 only once this year,” Johnson said. “That’s the type of consistency you won’t find anywhere, especially not in the NASCAR rule book.

“I invite NASCAR to give my car the once-over. I have nothing to hide, and neither does Chad Knaus, save for his receding hairline. The measure of a driver shouldn’t be made in millimeters or grams, but in Cup championships. That makes me the ‘heavy.’”

2. Carl Edwards: Edwards took seventh in Darlington, scoring his seventh top-10 result of the season. He trails Jimmie Johnson by 44 in the Sprint Cup point standings.

“It was a heck of a week for Kenseth,” Edwards said. “He was two for two—he beat the field and the system.”

3. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: Earnhardt finished ninth in the Southern 500 in a race dominated by the Toyotas of Joe Gibbs Racing. Earnhardt now holds the fourth spot in the point standings, trailing Jimmie Johnson by 64.

“Gibbs cars claimed the 1, 2, and 6 spots,” Earnhardt said. “Unfortunately for them, it’s in the inspection line. Inspecting a JGR engine is a lot like taking a walk through the camping area of Junior Nation—there’s no telling what you’ll find, but chances are, it’s illegal.”

4. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth took the lead from Kyle Busch with 13 laps to go and sailed to the win in the Southern 500, his first win at Darlington. His third win of the year boosted him to third in the point standings, 59 out of first.

“Hopefully,” Kenseth said, “Busch isn’t the only thing I’ll ‘pass’ this week.

“Recent history suggests I should possibly delay in celebrating this victory. I think we all, inspectors included, know that’s a ‘proper wait.’”

5. Kyle Busch: Busch led a race-high 265 laps at Darlington, but faltered over the final ten laps due to a leaking rear tire and finished sixth. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin finished first and second, respectively.

“Nothing takes the air out of sails like the air out of your tires,” Busch said. “That tire snatched the win right out from under me. I guess you would call it ‘burn’ rubber.”

“My brother Kurt just completed his rookie test for the Indianapolis 500, thus giving him a license to compete in the 500. I say that’s unfair. When I went over 200 miles per hour in a borrowed car, I had my license taken.”

6. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer finished 11th at Darlington, joining Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex, Jr. in the top 12. Bowyer is now fifth in the point standings, 74 out of first.

“They call Darlington Raceway the ‘Lady In Black,’” Bowyer said. “According to David Gilliland, that wasn’t the only female at the track. There was one he called the ‘Bitch In Green.’”

7. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski finished nine laps down in 32nd at Darlington, two weeks after an equally-disappointing 33rd at Richmond. The defending Sprint Cup champion is sixth in the point standings, 97 behind Jimmie Johnson.

“Johnson has enough Cups to fill a trophy case,” Keselowski said. “I have enough to fill a jock strap.

“After winning the Cup last year, I haven’t done much this season. I guess that’s why you haven’t heard a peep, nor a tweet, from me.”

8. Denny Hamlin: In his first full race since injuring his back at California, Hamlin finished second in the Southern 500 as Joe Gibbs teammate Matt Kenseth won.

“I needed medical clearance before I could race,” Hamlin said. “And I got it. Here at Gibbs Racing, we like to say I ‘passed inspection.’”

9. Kasey Kahne: While challenging Kyle Busch for the lead with 33 laps to go, Kahne’s No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevy got loose and slammed the wall. Kahne eventually finished 17th and is now sixth in the point standings, 97 out of first.

“Including Daytona and Talladega,” Kahne said, “that’s the third time this year Kyle and I have made contact that resulted in a wreck. I’m not happy. Kyle’s ‘razing Kahne,’ so I’ll ‘give ‘im hell.’”

10. Kevin Harvick: One week after a 40th at Talladega, Harvick rebounded with a fifth in the Bojangles’ Southern 500. It was only Harvick’s second top-5 finish of the year.

“Toyotas have won six races this year,” Harvick said. “I’ve won one, and it was called the ‘Toyota Owners 400.’ That’s called ‘irony,’ and it also applies to a Japanese automaker dominating an American sport. To the head honchos at NASCAR, that’s got to be ‘dis-Orient-ing.’”

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


  1. Junior Bias? Wasn’t that a Hee Haw character? Anyway, in my power rankings formula, a penalty for an illegal part automatically drops you one spot. In Kenseth’s case, it dropped him two places, because he didn’t want to be anywhere near Carl Edwards.

    Thanks for the comment!

  2. Can I please ask how you justify having Dale Jr ahead of Matt Kenseth in your power rankings. Kenseth is ahead of Jr. in the points, has 3 wins to Jr’s 0, and has lead the most laps this season. I see a big Jr. bias here.


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