NASCAR Power Rankings: Martinsville

Jeffrey BoswellAnalyst IMarch 31, 2010

MARTINSVILLE, VA - MARCH 29:  Denny Hamlin celebrates with a burnout in the #11 FedEx Toyota after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson finished ninth at Martinsville, and though he was never in contention for the win, his fourth top-10 finish of the year netted him the lead in the Sprint Cup point standings. Johnson now sits 14 points ahead of previous leader Kevin Harvick, whose No. 29 Shell Chevy suffered a mechanical failure and finished 35th.

“It stopped raining on Monday,” Johnson said, “but, as my four straight Cup titles, as well as my new lead in the points can attest, it hasn’t stopped reigning.”

“I can certainly relate to an unexpected four-tire pit stop and a bit of luck working in a driver’s favor. In my case, though, I was able to milk two wins out of it, not just one, like Hamlin.”

“As a former winner at Martinsville, I know how much that grandfather clock trophy means. I’m happy for Hamlin. He’s a Virginian, so I’m sure this win meant a lot to him. And I’m sure he’ll dedicate a little piece of that trophy to every other driver in the field. That would only be fitting, because I think Hamlin “clocked” every other car on his way to the Martinsville victory.”

2. Matt Kenseth: Leading with two laps to go and dueling Jeff Gordon for position, Kenseth slid up the track, allowing Denny Hamlin to dip underneath the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford and Gordon for the lead. Hamlin drove to victory, while Kenseth fell all the way back to 18th. Kenseth is third in the point standings, 16 behind Jimmie Johnson.

“I know Gordon is probably not happy with me,” Kenseth said, “as he indicated with a bump on the track, which I’ll take over a shove on pit road any day.”

“Now, my good friend and teammate Carl Edwards led the way for Roush Fenway Racing with an eighth-place finish. With two-straight top-10 finishes, it seems that NASCAR probation has scared him straight. Cousin Carl has been on his best behavior, as have his nemeses Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Give those two credit as well; they’ve realized that society frowns upon having wrecks with a cousin.”

3. Greg Biffle: Biffle posted his series-leading sixth top-10 finish of the year, overcoming contact with Marcos Ambrose and a pit road speeding penalty to post a 10th at Martinsville. Biffle moved up two spots in the point standings to second, and trails Jimmie Johnson by 14.

“Luckily, the incident with Ambrose wasn’t major,” Biffle said. “One thing’s for sure, though—when the No. 16 U.S. Census Ford gets together with the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota, there’ll be a ‘calorie count’ taking place.”

4. Kevin Harvick: Harvick led the first 44 laps at Martinsville, and was charging towards the lead on lap 105 when a brake problem sent him to the garage, ruining his race day. Harvick returned several laps down, and eventually finished 35th, 100 laps down. Harvick fell from first to fourth in the point standings, and trails Jimmie Johnson by 61.

“Mechanical malfunctions make me angry,” Harvick said, “and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. In fact, you probably wouldn’t like me when I’m ‘Happy.’”

“Most people know me more for ‘breaking bad’ than for ‘braking bad.’ In both cases, however, something, or someone, gets ‘jacked up’ in the Kevin Harvick garage. If you need further explanation, just ask Carl Edwards.”

5. Kurt Busch: Busch started strong at Martinsville, and was poised for a likely top-Five finish until a loose wheel forced a green flag pit stop, which sent Busch and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge two laps down. Busch eventually finished 23rd, but maintained the sixth spot in the point standings, where he is 122 out of first.

“After Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s outburst at Bristol,” Busch said, “people have been paying much more attention to what’s being said between driver and crew chief. And, after my radio meltdown at Martinsville, its popularity is ‘really bitchin.'’’

6. Jeff Gordon: Gordon inherited the lead in the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 with nine laps to go after race leader Denny Hamlin pitted for four tires. Gordon has the checkered flag in sight, but a caution for Kyle Busch’s spin just moments before the white flag flew denied Gordon the win, necessitating a green-white-checkered finish. With a lap to go, Matt Kenseth bumped Gordon, knocking the No. 24 DuPont Chevy from the lead, and Gordon retaliated by clipping Kenseth, thus allowing Denny Hamlin to grab the win.

“I guess it’s true,” Gordon said, “the new spoiler did its job, because I intended for the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford to go airborne. Unlike Crown Royal whiskey, revenge is best served cold. Often, it’s not enough merely to look at someone sideways; sometimes, you have to make them go sideways.”

“But isn’t that what NASCAR had in mind when they asked drivers to ‘police themselves’—civilized acts of defiance? Kenseth is the poster boy for receiving civilized acts of defiance. In fact, he attracts them. It’s like other drivers are bulls, and he’s holding the red cape. Call him the ‘Matt-ador,’ if you will.”

7. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: Earnhardt finished 15th at Martinsville, driving the No. 88 National Guard/Amp Energy Sugar Free Lightning Chevy to its fourth top-15 finish of the year. Earnhardt is 10th in the Sprint Cup point standings, 159 out of first.

“That’s the great thing about my partnership with Amp Energy,” Earnhardt said. “They can introduce a new drink on my car, and it immediately sells to the masses, soon to adorn mantles and curio cabinets across the country. Hey, what do most people call a can of Amp Energy Sugar Free Lightning? A drink. What do my fans call it? A souvenir.”

“Now, what do rival energy drinks taste like? Crap. And drinking them leaves a taste in your mouth that I’m quite familiar with—‘potty mouth.’”

“I kept the foul language to a minimum at Martinsville. But you shouldn’t fault me for my coarse language, especially not when the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, employs the same language. Besides, ‘veep’ rhymes with ‘beep.’ What else do Biden and I have in common? Well, we’ll never be quite as famous as the man who made us what we are. Biden will never equal Barrack Obama, the black man in the White House, while I’ll never equal my father, the white man in black.”

8. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin, with knee surgery looming, muscled his way to the front at Martinsville with a lap to go, passing Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth to take the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500. Hamlin relinquished the lead during a caution on lap 493, opting to pit for four tires while only teammate Kyle Busch followed. Hamlin restarted ninth, and benefited from a caution on lap 499 that prevented a sure Jeff Gordon win.

“This win will certainly ease the pain of knee surgery,” Hamlin said, “and hopefully will be the catalyst for more victories. Those wins, of course, will take place ‘on mended knee.’”

“Now, I have to thank my teammate, Kyle Busch, for causing a timely caution, and I’ll do so ‘on bended knee.’”

9. Joey Logano: Logano posted his second top-Five finish of the year with a second in the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500, following Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin across the line as Toyota scored its first win of the year.

“Hamlin was not to be denied,” Logano said. “It’s impressive that he did that on a damaged knee. I haven’t seen a ‘bum’ rush like that since Public Enemy’s first album. Usually, when a Toyota plows through traffic like that, there’s a lawsuit on the horizon, not a checkered flag.”

“Hamlin proved that speed isn’t everything at Martinsville. It’s more about desire and will. Besides, where speed and Toyotas are concerned, it’s less about putting the pedal to the metal, and more about putting the pedal to the settle-ment.”

10. Paul Menard: Menard, in the No. 98 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, finished 14th in the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville. Menard has finished 18th or better in all six races this year, and is now 11th in the point standings, 163 out of first.

“I may be the best kept secret in NASCAR,” Menard said. “And speaking of ‘coming out of the closet,’ Ricky Martin has announced that he is gay. That’s quite unlike me in the top 12 of the points—no one saw that coming.”

“But enough about a ‘queen;’ let’s talk about a ‘king,’ King Richard Petty, my car owner. It’s great to be driving for NASCAR royalty. Obviously, the King saw something in me he liked. Maybe it was talent, or maybe it was youthful exuberance. More than likely, though, he probably saw a set of sideburns as impressive as his own.”

“But Martin’s courage should serve as an inspiration to everyone to stay true to yourself and follow your dreams. It has to me. Before my racing career blossomed, my first love was music, and I’ve always wanted to form my own boy band, and call it ‘Menard-o.’”