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Hot dog! Busch relishes top spot
by Matt Taliaferro
1. Kyle Busch Young Rowdy nabs the top spot from Carl Edwards this week thanks to four top-3 finishes in the last five races. He’s led a race-high 151 laps in each of the last two, to boot.
2. Kevin Harvick Back-to-back wins make it hard to keep Harvick out of the top spot, but Kyle’s body of work over the course of the last month trumps the recent Harvick hot streak.
3. Carl Edwards Martinsville is one of Carl’s worst tracks, so it’s no surprise he faltered to an 18th-place showing. Things will be different this weekend ... he may just win in Texas.
4. Jimmie Johnson This ranking may be unfair, as Johnson probably would have won Martinsville had he not gotten busted for speeding on pit road. However, he did not because he did, thus he’s fourth.
5. Ryan Newman There’s a big drop off from fourth to fifth. Newman has been more consistent than the proceeding bunch, so he gets the nod — but it’s tenuous.
6. Juan Pablo Montoya Montoya is coming on strong with consecutive top 10s, including a surprising fourth-place run at Martinsville ... typically not one of his better venues.
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Also coming on is Junior, who has only one finish outside of the top 12 this season — and that was a 24th at Daytona when he was swept up in a later wreck not of his making.
8. Matt Kenseth Kenseth seemingly lives under the radar. Bet you didn’t know he’s recorded consecutive runs of fourth, fourth and sixth.
9. Kurt Busch Dropping faster than a lugnut on a pit stop, Busch started the season strong but has limped to mid-teen finishes the last two races, looking lost in the process.
10. Jeff Gordon His two top 5s this season have come at Phoenix (first) and Martinsville (fifth) — two flat and relatively short tracks. The next flat track is at Pocono, a mere two months down the road.
11. Tony Stewart Not sure what’s going on here, but the last three weeks haven’t been pretty.
12. Kasey Kahne Kahne gets a pass this week for being the victim of someone else’s stuck throttle.
13. Mark Martin This is a 10th- to 20th-place team right now. That won’t cut it.
14. Clint Bowyer After a slow start Bowyer is gaining momentum with consecutive top 10s.
15. Paul Menard Menard is going the other way with 16th- and 38th-place runs the last two weeks.
Just off the lead pack: AJ Allmendinger, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Brian Vickers