NASCAR Power Rankings: Dover

Jeffrey BoswellAnalyst IMay 19, 2010

DOVER, DE - MAY 16:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, race side by side during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 16, 2010 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

Kyle Busch

Busch won the Autism 400 at Dover, his second win in the last three races, out-dueling Jimmie Johnson with help from a pit road speeding penalty that derailed Johnson’s quest for three Diver triumphs in a row.

Busch also won Saturday’s Nationwide Heluva Good! 200, and only a shortage of fuel prevented him from taking the Camping World Dover 200.

“Call me the ‘Triple Threat,’” Busch said. “Call Denny Hamlin the ‘Cripple Threat.’ Call Joey Logano ‘Joey.’”

“While Johnson was clearly dominating the race, he obviously knew that I had the car to take by force what was rightly his. So, in leaving the pits too fast, he was guilty of ‘speeding to elude a wrest .’”

“I realize Johnson is habitually dominant at Dover and has won the last two races there. Months from now, people will look back at this race as the beginning of the end of Johnson’s reign, a changing of the guard, if you will. That can’t make Johnson happy. As far as I’m concerned, he has no choice but to ‘been’ Dover and take it.”

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin continued his hot streak, finishing fourth at Dover for his fifth top-five result in the last seven races.

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Hamlin and teammate Kyle Busch, who won at Dover, are clicking, and Joe Gibbs Racing has arguably supplanted Hendrick Motorsports as NASCAR’s top team.

“There’s a new sheriff in town,” Hamlin said, “and I believe he just served Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson with papers indicating that the court needs their depositions for the Mayfield-NASCAR case. It can’t be a coincidence that JGR served notice that it’s now the top dog of racing teams. In both cases, the Hendrick boys got ‘deposed.’”

“Joe Gibbs Racing has its eyes on the Sprint Cup championship. Between the Fed Ex car, the Home Depot car, and the M&M’s car, the delivery of the hardware is in the bag .”

Jimmie Johnson

Johnson, who swept the two Sprint Cup races at Dover last year, led 225 of 401 laps on Sunday, but his drive for three in a row was derailed by a speeding penalty exiting on the race’s final pit stops.

Johnson was hit with a drive-through penalty, fell a lap down, and finished a disappointing 16th.

“What’s the difference in the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy and the No. 37 Extenze Ford?” Johnson asked. “One was done in by NASCAR’s penal code, while the other carries the banner for a sponsor’s penile code. With the penalty, I saw my chance for the win dwindle. Under a strict regimen of Extenze, you may see results. So, in both instances, ‘petered out ’ would describe the outcome.”

“How fitting is it that in the same week I’m subpoenaed to give a deposition in Jeremy Mayfield’s case against NASCAR, I get busted for ‘speed?’ And isn’t it just as becoming that I appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to highlight the perils of distracted driving, then days later I make a careless error at Dover that may have cost me the win?”

“I knew that beating Busch out of the pits would be critical. My recent slump has left people questioning my greatness, so I wanted this win badly. In my haste, I was too fast leaving. Usually, it’s the other way around, but this time, ‘hunger’ led to ‘fasting.’”

“Don’t be mistaken. The No. 48 Lowe’s team has its mojo back, just in time for the Coca Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. If I can mark my territory as well as you can mark my words, then a win in Charlotte can be expected.”

Kevin Harvick

Harvick posted his series-best ninth top-10 result of the year at Dover, charging from a qualifying effort of 30th to finish seventh in the Autism Speaks 400.

Harvick continues to lead the point standings, and now has a 69 point lead on Kyle Busch, who rose from third to second.

“Dover is a lot like Carl Edwards,” Harvick said. “It’s never been one of my favorites. That’s why a seventh there feels almost like a victory. Traditionally, Dover’s been a thorn in my side. Personally, ‘Miles The Monster’ rubs me the wrong way, which goes to show I can dislike fictional characters just as much as real people.”

Jeff Gordon

Gordon struggled with handling issues all day at Dover, unable to find the necessary balance to successfully navigate the “Monster Mile” with the speed to win. Despite his problems, Gordon managed to finish 11th, but dropped from fourth to sixth in the Sprint Cup point standings, where he trails Kevin Harvick by 163.

“I can certainly sympathize with what Jimmie Johnson must be feeling,” Gordon said. “I’ve seen my share of victories slip away, and the frustration of those missed opportunities has me on the verge of ‘losing’ it.”

“That speeding penalty really has to be bothering Johnson, despite his impressive display of composure. He was timed by NASCAR a mere .09 over the limit, an advantage that translates to nothing more than a few yards. There’s a fine line between the ‘thrill of victory’ and the ‘agony of ‘da feet.’”

Matt Kenseth

Kenseth scored his fourth top-five finish of the year, and first since Bristol, with a third in the Autism Speaks 400.

Always a force at Dover, Kenseth steadily worked his way from the 21st qualifying position, and led 15 laps as Roush Fenway Racing placed three cars in the top 10.

Kenseth moved up two spots in the point standings to third, and trails Kevin Harvick by 126.

“We are well aware that a Ford has yet to visit victory lane this year,” Kenseth said. “Our cars may be built ‘Ford tough,’ but as far as winning a race, it’s a case of ‘Ford? Tough!’”

“My third place finish ends a run of two-straight disappointing 13th-place finishes, both of which came on a Saturday. The No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford ran solidly all day; Sunday in Dover brought relief, a ‘Black Sabbath ,’ if you will. And speaking of ‘Black Sabbath,’ let’s all pay our respects to Ronnie James Dio, one of Sabbath’s former lead singers, who recently passed away. Incidentally, the chances of a Roush Fenway car winning a race are about as good as seeing a ‘Rainbow In The Dark.’”

Jeff Burton

Burton charged to a second-place finish in the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover, chasing Kyle Busch to the line after Jimmie Johnson’s bid for the win was squelched by a pit road speeding penalty.

Burton grabbed his third-straight top-10 finish and fifth of the year, and improved one spot to eighth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 199 out of first.

“As the saying goes,” Burton said, “’One man’s misfortune is another man’s gain.’ In layman’s terms, Johnson’s mistake allowed the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy to luck into ‘sloppy seconds.’”

Greg Biffle

Biffle posted his first top-10 finish in six races with a hard-earned sixth in the Autism 400 at Dover.

It was his eighth top 10 of the year, second only to Kevin Harvick’s nine, and kept him planted firmly at seventh in the point standings, 187 out of first.

“Our consistency should be admired,” Biffle said. “We’ve become a fixture in the Sprint Cup point standings, usually somewhere between the fourth through ninth positions. Of course, I don’t have a single victory. So, my supporters and my detractors are left with a common refrain: ‘Biffle’s not going anywhere.’”

Carl Edwards

Edwards fell a lap down midway through the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover, but recovered to finish with a solid eighth, joining Roush Fenway teammates Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle in the top 10.

Edwards advanced one spot in the points to 10th and is 53 ahead of 12th.

“As a former winner at Dover,” Edwards said, “I know what it takes to conquer the ‘Monster Mile.’ Unfortunately, this year, I don’t have what it takes.”

“I can’t blame it all on Ford’s inferiority; my driving record isn’t exactly spotless. I can put a car in the air, but I can’t put one in Victory Lane. With Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing monopolizing most of the wins, Jack Roush can’t be happy. The No. 99 Aflac Ford promotes the ‘Knowquack.com web site, and if Roush fails to win a race, you can expect an even greater number of hits on the site ‘NoJack.com.’”

Kurt Busch

Busch blew the right front tire of the No. Two Miller Lite Dodge on lap 286, and eventually finished 19th at Dover, two laps down.

He dropped one spot to ninth in the Sprint Cup point standings, and trails Kevin Harvick by 237.

“My brother Kyle stared into the eyes of the four-time defending champion,” Busch said, “and the champ blinked. Apparently, you can be nailed by NASCAR for speeding in ‘the blink of an eye.’”

“Anyway, Kyle has positioned himself as a contender for the Sprint Cup championship. I’m pulling for him. For years, people have questioned our guts. But if Kyle wins, there will be two titles in the Busch family. Then, no one will be able to doubt the fortitude of our ‘family jewels.’”

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