By the Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
(August 3, 2010)
Pocono winner Greg Biffle jumped to third in this week’s Sporting News Power Poll. Sprint Cup points leader Kevin Harvick was a unanimous choice to retain the top spot in this week’s rankings. The weekly poll is a collaboration of Sporting News and Rowdy.com.
1. Kevin Harvick (last week: 1st) With so many top contenders being inconsistent, maybe Harvick can win a title just by posting top fives. He has five in the past six races.
2. Jeff Gordon (7th) Despite having one of the strongest cars at Pocono, Gordon saw his winless streak reach 50 races.
3. Greg Biffle (6th) It wasn’t just the two-tire call that got Biffle the win at Pocono: His team’s ability to make the racecar faster for the finish made the call work.
4. Tony Stewart (4th) Stewart won his second pole of the year. He was the only driver who made significant progress on four tires in the final run.
5. Carl Edwards (8th) New geometry woke up the Roush cars and gave Edwards some breathing room in the race for the Chase.
6. Jeff Burton (2nd) Burton got shuffled back in taking four tires at the end but made his way back to secure his fourth straight top 10.
7. Denny Hamlin (12th) His average running position was fifth place, which was fitting because that’s where he ended up.
8. Jimmie Johnson (9th) Encouraging: Led the most laps for the sixth time this year. Discouraging: Wasn’t in the mix for the win.
9. Clint Bowyer (3rd) Bowyer did a remarkable job of working his way up from the 40th starting position, but being caught up in the Jimmie Johnson-Kurt Busch deal hurt him.
10. Mark Martin (15th) Martin’s top 10 was his first in eight races. With the Roush cars running better, however, it could be tough to crack the top 12.
11. Ryan Newman (19th) A fuel-only call by Tony Gibson allowed Newman to grab his 10th top 15 of 2010.
12. Matt Kenseth (13th) Question: Why have teammates Biffle and Edwards combined for eight top 10s in the past eight races and Kenseth has none?
13. Kyle Busch (10th) Busch is not an afterthought in too many races, but he was Sunday at Pocono.
14. Jamie McMurray (5th) After the emotional win at the Brickyard, McMurray never got it going at Pocono.
15. Kurt Busch (11th) “Shhhh. Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting Jimmies.”
16. Martin Truex Jr. (24th) Truex carded his first top 10 since May 1 at Richmond, a stretch of 11 races.
17. Kasey Kahne (14th) For the 15th time this season, Kahne failed to lead a lap. If he led just one lap in each of those 15 races he would be less than 100 points out of the Chase.
18. David Reutimann (16th) Reutimann was in 13th before the final pit stop, but like Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya and Gordon, he was undone by a four-tire call and finished 17th.
19. Juan Pablo Montoya (22nd) Does anybody else get the feeling the Juan Montoya-Brian Pattie era is about to come to an abrupt end?
20. Paul Menard (20th) Menard’s average finish for 2010 is 19.3. He has never finished a season with an average finish in the teens.
21. David Ragan (23rd) A second straight solid run resulted in a top-15 finish at Pocono.
22. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (21st) Based on Indy and Pocono, Earnhardt is a long shot to make the Chase, even though he’s 14th in points.
23. AJ Allmendinger (18th) His starting slot (seventh) was Allmendinger’s highest position all day at Pocono.
24. Sam Hornish Jr. (NR) For the first time this season, Hornish was the highest-finishing Penske Racing Dodge.
25. Brad Keselowski (25th) Keselowski’s last top 15 came 11 races ago, and he has yet to card a top 10 this season. It’s not exactly trending up.