Top 10 Power Rankings

Sports Central | Jeffrey Boswell ( Sports Central | Thursday, October 25th, 2007 )

1. Jeff Gordon — Gordon started on the pole and led the most laps, but couldn’t complete the trifecta, finishing third after a lengthy and spirited battle with Jimmie Johnson. Gordon’s lead in the points was trimmed from 68 to 53.

“I think there were cautions within cautions,” says Gordon. “I think the flag man will have to undergo Tommy John surgery after blowing out his elbow.”

2. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson won for the seventh time this year with a grueling win at Martinsville, where he held off teammate Jeff Gordon and Penske’s Ryan Newman. Johnson slipped under Gordon with 44 laps remaining and held on after several patience and nerve-racking cautions and restarts. He now trails Gordon by 53 points.

“It was a blast racing against Jeff under green,” says Johnson. “All 3/4 laps of it.”

3. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer raced to a ninth-place finish in the Subway 500, his 16th top-10 of they year, but that was not nearly enough to gain ground on Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Bowyer trailed Gordon by 78 entering the race; now he’s 115 behind, and 62 behind Johnson in second.

“Sure, it looks like an all-Hendrick battle at this point,” says Bowyer. “But anything is possible. If two Formula 1 McLaren drivers can blow a last-race lead, as Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton did in Brazil, then so can two Hendrick drivers. It will take teamwork on their part, like taking each other out in four consecutive races.”

4. Tony Stewart — Stewart finished 13th in Martinsville, which would have been a decent result in April, but not in October when you entered the race trailing the points leader by almost 200 points. Stewart holds on to fourth in the points, but is now 249 behind Jeff Gordon.

“How many caution flags were there?” asks Stewart. “21? I think there were an equal number of spins by Martin Truex alone. His DEI car had a working engine; it was just lacking a driver.”

5. Kyle Busch — Busch was part of an unstoppable Hendrick Motorsports contingent, finishing fourth behind race winner Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon in third. Busch is in sixth in the points standings, 290 out of first.

“That was a four-hour traffic jam disguised as a race,” says Busch. “Some fans were so excited by what they witnessed that they had to go relive it personally by leaving the track and sitting in traffic for four more hours.”

6. Carl Edwards — Edwards experienced an electrical problem on lap 185, forcing him to switch to the backup battery. Edwards also switched off the brake fans to conserve power, and nursed this situation until the end of the race, pulling out an 11th-place finish. He remains fifth in the points, now 285 out of first.

“I guess you’ve heard about my confrontation with Matt Kenseth after the race,” says Edwards. “He’s probably the only driver out here I can raise a fist to and not expect to get my tail kicked. It’s simple: we just don’t get along. I think it all stems from that seminar we attended together at the Sheridan called ‘Teamwork: The Rusty Wallace-Ryan Newman Model.'”

7. Denny Hamlin — Hamlin finished sixth in the Subway 500 and moved up one spot to eighth in the points, where he’s 374 off of Jeff Gordon’s lead.

“The drama is certainly in order for the Jeff Gordon/Jimmie Johnson battle down the stretch,” says Hamlin. “It’s just too bad they don’t hate each others guts, a scenario that would make the final four races much more entertaining. Can you imagine carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth in Gordon and Johnson’s places, or Tony Stewart and I? There would definitely be real punches thrown.”

8. Kevin Harvick — Harvick battled a tight-handling car all day, but managed to pull out a 10th-place finish in the caution-marred race. He improves one place to seventh in the standings, 369 out of first.

“I know it’s possible to doze off watching a race,” says Harvick. “But never did I think it was possible while driving in the race. Maybe I was dreaming, but did I see the pace car spin out?”

9. Jeff Burton — Burton overcame a commitment line violation and subsequent penalty to finish 12th in Martinsville. He moved up one spot to ninth in the points, where he is 409 points out of first.

“Commitment line violation?” says Burton. “I thought that was a punishment applicable to anyone making the leap in a union with Pamela Anderson. I think her commitment line lies somewhere below her waist.”

10. Kurt Busch — Busch slammed the wall on lap 166, bringing out one of a record 21 cautions in Sunday’s Subway 500. He managed to finish 31st, and fell three places in the points to tenth, 420 out of first.