Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tyler Head's Power Rankings: Fontana

After some exciting race and a couple hours of pothole-filling in the Daytona 500, its time for the real season to begin. The Sprint Cup Series heads to the 2 mile Auto Club Speedway, where a teams performance may be an indication of how the rest of their season will go (but don't ask Matt Kenseth that). Without further ado, here are the rankings!

1. Jimmie Johnson

The Daytona 500 has been a struggle for Johnson since his 2006 win, but expect him to rebound at his home track, where he has dominated in recent years, and also earned his first career win back in 2002.

2. Matt Kenseth

Kenseth had a strong showing in the Daytona 500, and Roush Fenway Racing is infamous for dominating the February event at Auto Club. Don't be surprised if he earns the win in Fontana once again this year.

3. Juan Pablo Montoya

Montoya had a solid finish in the 500 last week, and should be among your favorites for Fontana. Last year Montoya was strong on the long, flat tracks, and is still eager to get his first oval victory in Nascar, and he just may get it at Fontana.

4. Denny Hamlin

Hamlin came out of Daytona with a mediocre finish, and spent his practice time rattling rookie Brad Keselowski's cage. Hamlin had a strong car at Fontana last fall before wrecking from the lead on a restart. Hamlin needs to maintain his focus if he wants to come out on top, and stop worrying about trying to get into Keselowski's head.

5. Mark Martin

Martin's attempt to win his first Daytona 500 came up short, but his bid to earn his first championship is just beginning. Martin was strong on just about any size track last year, with Fontana being no exception as he earned a 4th place finish in the fall race. Look for Martin to have a solid points day at Fontana.

6. Carl Edwards

Edwards had a strong speedweeks, and now looks forward to racing at Fontana. Cousin, soon to be father, Carl has had lots of success at Fontana's sister track Michigan, and also has earned a win at Fontana. He is one of only four drivers to finish in the top 10 in both races last year, and should be expected to that, and possibly more, again today.

7. Jamie McMurray

Who saw him coming? McMurray has risen back to the top since returning back to Earnhardt/Ganassi, winning the Daytona 500 and earning the pole for today's race. McMurray is looking to assert himself as a contender, and he may just prove that he is by the end of race 26.

8. Kurt Busch

Busch's speedweeks were miserable, with a couple of torn up racecars and a 23rd place finish in the 500. Kurt will be looking forward to returning to Fontana, where he also finished in the top 10 in both races in 2009.

9. Tony Stewart

Stewart started speedweeks with a bang, flexing his muscles in the Budweiser Shootout and almost winning his duel race. However in the 500 he was a non-factor at the end, finishing 22nd after leading none of the race's 200 laps. He should perform much better at Fontana, where he finished in the top ten in both 2009 races.

10. Kasey Kahne

Kahne was also strong early in speedweeks, finishing 2nd in the Budweiser Shootout and winning his duel race. However in the 500 he fell victim to a late race wreck and finished 30th. Kahne had a top ten run going in the fall race last year before a wreck ended his day, look for him to run top 10 once again.

11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Earnhardt gave his fans something to cheer for during speedweeks as he started second and rallied late to finish second in the 500. Now the real test for Jr. begins, as he'll need to perform well on tracks such as Fontana if he wants to make the Chase this year.

12. Jeff Gordon

Gordon's speedweeks can be summed up in one work: crash. Gordon wrecked in the Budweiser Shootout, he wrecked in his duel race, and he wrecked on the final restart of the Daytona 500. Gordon needs to put Daytona behind him and get back on track with a solid finish at Fontana, where he finished 2nd in both races last year.

Other notables:

Greg Biffle - Biffle made a pass for the lead while taking the white flag, but couldn't hold on to earn his first win at Daytona since his rookie season. Regardless, he finished 3rd and has been dominant at Fontana in the past.

Kevin Harvick - Harvick had a solid day at Daytona, finishing 7th after having led the most laps. A strong run at Fontana will put him on the right path to make the Chase.

David Reuttimann - Reuttimann started out the year strong with a top-5 finish. Look for him to contend to win some races this year and possibly be a dark horse to make the Chase.

Martin Truex Jr. - Truex finished 6th in his first race with Michael Waltrip racing. This week will be a test of how well MWR can do on non-plate tracks.

Kyle Busch - Have to mention Busch, he's been solid at Fontana the past few years and should be up front once again today.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats to Jimmy Johnson especially considering how he went at Daytona (and is this revival at Fontana a statistical omen for the rest of the season)

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