Mar 14, 2014; Bristol, TN, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch (41) before practice for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Power Rankings- Texas

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In trying times never stop trying. And that’s exactly what Kurt Busch did since his free fall from relevance at the conclusion of the 2011 season.  Busch never stopped believing he would work his way back to the top after getting booted from Roger Penske’s powerhouse organization, subsequently forcing the former champ to resume his NSCS career with lower tier teams the likes of Phoenix Racing & Furniture Row Racing. Through the darkness came a ray of hope in the presence of Gene Haas.  Admirably Haas threw caution to the wind, and aggressively pursued Busch to drive a fourth Stewart Haas racing Chevrolet in 2014 despite reports that co team owner Tony Stewart’s was firmly opposed to welcoming Busch into the fold. Nevertheless Gene Haas would not be denied in his quest to acquire the services of Kurt Busch. Less than a week following the social media rumours that shocked the racing community, Kurt Busch would indeed accept Gene Haas’s offer to leave Furniture Row Racing at the conclusion of the 2013 season.  Gene Haas said he had only one expectation of Busch following the hiring of the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup series champion and that was to get a car bearing his name into victory lane for the first time.

Last Sunday afternoon Kurt Busch would be responsible for turning his team owner Gene Haas’s dream of winning with a car bearing his name into reality.  Kurt Busch finally found his way back into the winner’s circle for the first time in over two years, completing his remarkable comeback from obscurity.

Hendrick Motorsports continued their dominance of Martinsville as Jimmie Johnson, & Dale Earnhardt Jr lead laps and finished inside the top 5.

 

Kurt Busch & Brad Keselowski engaged in a war or words over an incident on pit road that carried over onto the track.

Danica Patrick’s recent momentum came to an abrupt halt, Richard Petty Motorsports honored the memory of Lynda Petty by putting both RPM cars inside the top 10, and now it’s on to Texas.

 

Here’s this week’s Power Rankings

  1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Back in the top 5, back atop the points standings things are looking up for Dale Jr following two miserable weekends of hard luck.

Dale Jr scored his first career NSCS victory at Texas Motor speedway in the spring of 2000 in his rookie season.

2. Jimmie Johnson-   The six time champion was incredibly close to capturing a record setting ninth victory at Martinsville. Oh well. At least he gets another chance to rewrite the record books in October.

Jimmie Johnson has won 2 of the last three races run at Texas Motor Speedway.

 

3. Carl Edwards- Cousin Carl stands alone as the only Roush Fenway driver having any sort of fun this year, but beware of those inconsistencies that always find a way to trump Carl’s streaks of momentum.

Carl is a 3 time winner at Texas Motor Speedway, including a sweep of both races in 2008.

 

4.  Matt Kenseth- Quietly Matt Kenseth’s gathering his bearings after what some may call a slow start to his season. There’s a reason he earned the nickname the silent assassin.

Kenseth is a two time winner at Texas Motor Speedway, winning both races in the spring of 2002 & 2011 respectively.

 

5.Jeff Gordon- Stalled at four championship at the twilight of his career Jeff Gordon desperately needs a win to keep his drive for five alive, but don’t count on him hanging up the helmet just yet. I have a feeling he has a lot  of winning left to do even though he’s cooled off ,after starting the season red hot.

Gordon’s lone win in the lone star state came back in the spring of 2009.

 

6. Kyle Busch- Wrestlemania is this weekend. How ironic, Kyle Busch will be turning laps on the same track where he took a page out of the WWE playbook a couple years ago, on the same day the entertainment giant host their annual spectacle. Ron Hornaday remembers the wrath of the rowdy one all too well. Don’t act as if you can’t remember that wild Friday night in November either Rowdy. Piper would be so proud.

 

Aside from intentionally slamming people into the wall Rowdy is the defending winner of the spring race at Texas Motor Speedway.

 

7. Kurt Busch- Give it up for Kurt Busch. Regardless of how you feel about this guy what he did on Sunday afternoon undoubtedly made you stand up and cheer. Everybody loves a good Cinderella story. And you all thought Gene Haas was out of his mind for hiring this guy.  You should have your head examined!

 

Kurt Busch has one victory to his credit at Texas Motor Speedway which he earned in the fall of 2009.

8. Brad Keselowski-  I’ve heard some Brad Keselowski  fans were upset with their drivers lack of self-preservation following his weekend  on track scuffle with Kurt Busch.  While others were singing his praises for standing up to the big bad Busch. Honestly I think it’s completely ridiculous to call someone a punk ass and get away with it.

Brad enters Sunday’s race riding a streak of three consecutive top ten finishes at Texas Motor Speedway.

9. Joey Logano- There’s absolutely no quit in Joey Logano. When it looks as if he’s down for the count he digs down deep and surprises us all.  JoLo rolled off another convincing top five finish at Martinsville.  Yes, folks he’s finally reaching his potential.

Logano has collected finishes of 5th & 3rd in his last two races at Texas Motor Speedway.

10. Kevin Harvick- It’s hard to believe Kevin Harvick has never recorded a victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series at Texas Motor speedway. Personally I would like to see him shatter that trend real soon because you know he could totally rock a cowboy hat.

Harvick’s best finish in the lone star state is a 3rd place finish in the fall of 2006.

11. Tony Stewart- Smoke’s streak of accidental top five finishes came to an end at Martinsville. Leaving us all to wonder was his recent swing of momentum just that… accidental?

Stewart has 2 wins at Texas Motor Speedway both coming in the fall race (2006, 2011)

 

12. Clint Bowyer- Scoring your first top ten finish of the season usually doesn’t constitute a feeling of liberation, but for Clint Bowyer it’s a step in the right direction to ending his cold streak to start the season.

Bowyer’s career best finish at Texas was a 2nd place finishing in the fall of 2011.

13. Paul Menard- The new chase format caters to guys like Paul Menard who generally don’t make a lot of noise during the season, but constantly remind the top dogs they are there. Menard’s rolled off two consecutive top 10 runs, and sits 11th in the standings. He’s no longer seen as the guy racing Sunday afternoon’s on daddy’s dime.

In 15 career starts at Texas Motor Speedway Menard has 1 top5 finish & 2 finishes inside the top 10.

 

14. Brian Vickers – If you’re keeping score at home, Brian Vickers leads his MWR teammate Clint Bowyer in top 10 finishes 2-1.

Brian Vickers recorded his first top 10 finish at Texas Motor Speedway last spring subbing for Denny Hamlin.

 

15.    Ryan Newman- The rocket man’s made himself right at home with RCR. But were still waiting to see him blast off a couple of good runs with his new digs.

Newman has one win (2003) in 21 career starts at Texas Motor Speedway.

16.  Austin Dillon – I am completely convinced Richard Childress has a future NSCS champion waiting in the wings. Not only has his grandson Austin held his own against NASCAR’s elite, he’s brought a nice touch of class to the #3.

 

17. Marcos Ambrose- We all know Marcos Ambrose is an accomplished road course driver. At what point do we start considering him an accomplished short track racer? Two consecutive top 5 short track finishes certainly helps his cause. He’s also grown quite fond of Martinsville in recent years, perhaps his boss gave him a few pointers.

18. AJ Allmendinger-   When AJ Allmendinger wins two consecutive Pro Picks pools draws that something to celebrate. I’m always marveled at how this guy lays down respectable finishes in sub-par equipment. If he raced for one of the multicar giants he’d surely find his way into the winner’s circle.

19.  Denny Hamlin – Hamlin returned to his car at Martinsville following a one week hiatus only to look un Denny Hamlin like at one of his favorite tracks. Can you believe someone had the audacity to call him a wuss on Twitter?

 

20.Aric Almirola- Anytime a car sponsored by STP bearing the #43 runs in the top 10 at Martinsville it conjures fond memories for the king.

 

Photo courtesy of Randy Sartin- USA Today Sports

 

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Tags: NASCAR Power Rankings Texas Motor Speedway

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