White Hat Sports Headlines

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sprint Cup Power Rankings - California

1. Jimmie Johnson - You really can't take one bad race as a sign of things to come for many drivers, especially the 48 team. He was making his move before he spun out on Sunday, and his finish on Sunday was 12 positions better than last year...and we all know what happened last season.

2. Tony Stewart - Even before the season, I didn't think the 20 team would struggle. Did I think they'd be the most dominant of the drivers on the circuit? No. I do know that he had a great race on Sunday, and just missed another win at the Great American Race. I'm not worried about him, but the rest of the competition should be.

3. Jeff Gordon - If not for the suspension failure, Gordon would have probably been the one Hendrick driver challenging for the win on Sunday. He had a top-2 car all day, particularly after Denny Hamlin had problems. You can't expect many mechanical failures from the 24 crew, and I expect them to be back with a top-10 finish on Sunday.

4. Kurt Busch - Okay, okay, so he helped his teammate win on Sunday, and will be ranked higher than him, but he's a very giving guy. He gave teammate Ryan Newman the win on Sunday after relinquishing his spot in the top-35 for teammate Sam Hornish. I don't expect him to be giving much more now.

5. Kevin Harvick - I may have him ranked a little too high here, seeing as how he's not been given the same kind of equipment as his RCR teammates. However, even though his track record at California is anything but stellar, I'll wait one more week to see what happens.

6. Carl Edwards - He didn't get to show it on Sunday, but he still may end up being the best Ford driver in 2008.

7. Ryan Newman - I have to say I was legitimately surprised with Newman's win in the Great American Race Sunday. Not only did he end his 81-race winless streak but he was also very open in his postrace interviews. A huge burden has been lifted from his shoulders now, and this could be a big momentum shifter for his team. Don't forget how good he was when he was winning more often.

8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Maybe a little bit too low here, but he didn't live up to the hype after winning the Bud Shootout and his Gatorade Duel last Thursday. I think the media overdid the hype and put a lot of pressure on him to perform, and despite him being the only Hendrick driver to finish in the top-25 on Sunday, he just didn't get it done.

9.Kyle Busch - He may be 9th on my list, but he has a chance to really skyrocket ahead. He's had such a knack for dominating races in the Sprint Cup series, leading a ton of laps, but never sealing that win away. It'll be scary to see what this guy can do when he finds out how to hold on for those wins.

10. Matt Kenseth - I don't think it's going to be a terrible year for the 17 bunch, but I think it'll take a bit of racing and time for Kenseth and new crew chief Chip Bolin to get accustomed to working with each other. Kenseth had a good race going until he was taken out. He'll be a factor at California, and he definitely won't stay down for long.

Aaron Larsen

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