Get the Athlon Sports Newsletter
Here come those crazy Busch Boys
by Matt Taliaferro
Like every other NASCAR landing page on the web, Athlon Sports has a little fun each week ranking the drivers and teams of the Sprint Cup circuit. Our rankings go beyond how each finished the weekend prior and/or where they sit in the official championship standings.
The rankings you’ll see here represent what we (read: I) think are the strongest overall teams on tour, from top to bottom, based on performance, resources, strength of team/organization, overall talent of driver and, yeah, a tip of the cap to a job well done if they won the last race Think of it as Athlon’s NASCAR version of the college basketball Top 25.
Keep in mind these are subjective, and often done somewhat tongue-in-cheek (depending on my mood), so have some fun with them and take them for what they are: a weekly spin around the circuit, highlighting the best teams and their drivers.
Oh, and our rankings have a cool name … why no one thought of “Horsepower” Rankings before is beyond me. That said, kick back for five minutes of leisurely reading that require no real thought on your part:
1. Kyle Busch Hard to argue with eighth- and second-place runs to kick off a new season. What's not hard to argue with is what Cale would have to say about Kyle's wedding being shown on the Style Network.
2. Carl Edwards Looked to have the car to beat in Phoenix, but that’s why they run 500 miles — actually, 500 kilometers, for some reason. He’ll be a handful in Vegas.
3. Kurt Busch Wonder if the tux Kurt wore in Kyle's wedding had a little Shell Pennzoil patch on the lapel. Actually, I wonder if Kurt was even in it …
4. Jeff Gordon With the “monkey-off-my-back” win out of the way, Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson can go about racking up a handful more — and I'll bet they will.
5. Jimmie Johnson Mr. Five Time follows up a disappointing Daytona with a fitting Phoenix, where he got back to business by finishing third.
6. Kevin Harvick Like Johnson, Harvick put Daytona behind him, rolled up his firesuit sleeves and went about scoring a top 5 in Phoenix to set the earth back on its axis.
7. Tony Stewart He’s so close, but just can’t close the deal. At Daytona he lost the draft, at Phoenix a two-tire stop when others took four burned him. This is not a good time for Smoke to be going to Vegas.
8. Mark Martin Martin and new crew chief Lance McGrew aren’t on the Gordon/Gustafson level yet, but they’re close, and all Martin ever asks is to be put in a position to race for a win. Looks like that’s coming.
9. Ryan Newman His last three visits to Phoenix have netted results of first, second and fifth. Prior to that he averaged a 22.6-place finish in 15 starts. How do you explain that?
10. Denny Hamlin This team is better than its results thus far, but through two races it seems a 2010 hangover is making it hard for Denny and the boys to get out of bed and back to racing.
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. His 10th-place showing at Phoenix was very encouraging. Let’s see what Vegas holds ...
12. AJ Allmendinger Can he keep up the 10th-place average finishing position? That’s a tall order.
13. Clint Bowyer Very good team. Very bad luck. Clint and the boys will rebound.
14. Jeff Burton See: Bowyer, Clint.
15. Kasey Kahne Could Kahne be the driver to turn Red Bull Racing around? He only has one year to make it happen.
Just off the lead pack: Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Paul Menard, Juan Pablo Montoya
Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattTaliaferro