NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Power Rankings: Pocono II

Posted on Aug 8 2012 - 1:35am by Greg Atkins

Jeff Gordon won at Pocono Raceway for the Sixth Time in his career on Sunday, August 5, 2012 (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

First off, I wolud like to dedicate these power rankings to Brian Zimmerman, a race fan that was killed by a lightning strike at Pocono Raceway on Sunday. I would also like to extend my thoughts and prayers to his friends and family.

Jeff Gordon emerged victorious at Pocono Raceway by winning the rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400. Gordon benefited from an incident between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. The race was never restarted and Jeff Gordon was declared the winner.

This weekend, NASCAR competition returns to Watkins Glen International for the second and final road course race of the season.

Agree with these rankings? Disagree? Follow @gregatkins on Twitter and get the conversation going.

Who are the top ten drivers in this week’s power rankings? Keep reading to find out.

1. Jimmie Johnson – Last Week: 1st

Jimmie Johnson once again led the most laps but ultimately came up short. He’s still in perfect position to contend for his sixth championship.

2. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – Last Week: 2nd

For the first time this year, NASCAR’s most popular driver had some bad luck. Dale Jr. has plenty of chances to add another win before the Chase starts. He’s a former winner at Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta, and Richmond.

3. Kasey Kahne – Last Week: 6th

Kahne also benefited from the final accident of the race, gutting out a second place finish. Hendrick Motorsports has figured something out and everyone else is playing catch-up at this point.

4. Brad Keselowski – Last Week: 7th

If Brad Keselowski had won the race instead of Jeff Gordon, I would probably be discussing why he may have inherited Jimmie Johnson’s lucky horseshoe. Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe seemingly always find themselves contending for the win. Keselowski will look to build some momentum and consistency in these final races before the start of the Chase.

5. Tony Stewart – Last Week: 8th

Tony Stewart finished 5th at Pocono on Sunday. His 7.1 average finish at Watkins Glen is highest among drivers with five or more starts at the 2.45 mile road course.

6. Greg Biffle – Last Week: 3rd

Even though Greg Biffle finished 15th at Pocono. He’s still virtually a lock for the Chase. His average finish at Watkins Glen is 25.8.

7. Matt Kenseth – Last Week: 5th

Matt Kenseth ran well for the majority of the race on Sunday before the final restart. Kenseth was posted 23rd in the final running order. Kenseth’s average finish at The Glen is 15.6.

8. Denny Hamlin – Last Week: 4th

Anything less than victory at Pocono is disappointing to Denny Hamlin. Hamlin will look to reverse his fortune at Watkins Glen this weekend. His 17.2 average finish at The Glen is certainly not indicative of his road racing ability at the 2.45 mile road course.

9. Jeff Gordon – Last Week: Not Ranked

How about that? Jeff Gordon finally caught a break. With finishes no lower than 12th since Michigan in June, Gordon has the inside track on a wild card Chase berth. Gordon has four career wins at Watkins Glen and should be considered among the favorites for Sunday.

10. Clint Bowyer – Last Week: 9th

Clint Bowyer turned in a solid eighth place finish at Pocono on Sunday. Bowyer won the first road course race this season at Sonoma. Like Hamlin, his average finish at The Glen of 17.5 is not indicative of his road course racing ability.

Outside Looking In: Martin Truex, Jr.

Martin Truex, Jr. is once again on the outside looking in. Truex turned in a solid third place finish on Sunday and will look to add some wins to his resume before the Chase starts.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Newman

Newman had a solid performance at Pocono, finishing in sixth place. With Gordon entering the wild card picture, Newman will almost certainly need to win another race to secure a wild card berth.

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LIfelong enthusiast of NASCAR and Senior at Radford University in Radford, Virginia. Follow me on Twitter @gregatkins.