May 13, 2009

Week 21 Unified Power Rankings

Jenson Button won the Spanish Grand Prix, which was his fourth Formula 1 victory in five starts, and by virtue of dominating that series, he remains firmly in control of the "highly-scientific" Unified Power Rankings.* What makes this more impressive still, is that he's doing so with a team that was not favored to run well at the start of the season because they are new to the series.

Teammate Rubens Barrichello finished second in last week's battle in Spain, which allowed him to pad his advantage over the remainder of the field. Barrichello was mildly upset that he was not allowed the opportunity to win after team strategy was altered mid-race that favored Button.

Meanwhile, the NASCAR boys continue to run strong and take up most of the remaining top-10 spots. Tony Stewart's third-place finish at Darlington was enough to keep him third on the Unified Power Rankings grid, while Jeff Gordon's fifth-place finish allowed him to leapfrog Kurt Busch into fourth.

The Indy Racing League has not yet run five races this season, which is the minimum required for inclusion to this list, so none of their drivers will be included until after the Indy 500.

Three drivers, Mark Webber, Mark Martin and Fernando Alonso jumped nine positions between last week and this week to become the biggest gainers.

Justin Allgaier's impressive fifth-place finish in the Nationwide Darlington race allowed him to leap onto the grid in 45th, which Nick Heidfeld scored a seventh in the Spanish Grand Prix to sneak into 50th.

Unified Power Rankings

RankDriverCompetition PointsLast week+/-
1Jenson Button107.8010
2Rubens Barrichello96.0020
3Tony Stewart92.9230
4Jeff Gordon90.8251
5Kurt Busch89.554-1
6Denny Hamlin82.5071
7Jason Leffler82.20103
8Jimmie Johnson81.73124
9Timo Glock81.606-3
10Ryan Newman81.38133
11Ron Hornaday Jr80.809-2
12Jeff Burton78.94142
13Kyle Busch78.528-5
14Mark Webber78.40239
15Carl Edwards78.3311-4
16Greg Biffle77.40160
17Sebastian Vettel77.20247
18Matt Kenseth76.76191
19Juan Montoya74.3617-2
20Mark Martin73.83299
21Fernando Alonso73.80309
22Clint Bowyer73.1415-7
23Brad Keselowski72.73285
24Brian Vickers72.3820-4
25Kevin Harvick72.00272
26Dale Earnhardt Jr71.8021-5
27Matt Crafton71.8025-2
28David Reutimann71.4022-6
29Kasey Kahne70.0026-3
30Jason Keller69.60311
31Joey Logano69.50343
32Mike Skinner67.33364
33David Ragan67.0032-1
34Johnny Benson Jr67.00373
35Marcos Ambrose66.1833-2
36Lewis Hamilton65.20393
37Nico Rosberg65.20403
38Martin Truex Jr64.73457
39Jarno Trulli64.0018-21
40Casey Mears63.9135-5
41Reed Sorenson63.73410
42Scott Lagasse Jr63.7038-4
43Steve Wallace63.60430
44Regan Smith63.0042-2
45Justin Allgaier62.60NR
46Jamie McMurray61.5544-2
47Chad McCumbee61.20470
48Brendan Gaughan60.9046-2
49A J Allmendinger60.82501
50Nick Heidfeld60.80NR

The Unified Power Rankings are based on "percentage points." Starting with a 100 score for the winner of a Nationwide race, each subsequent position is decremented by a percentage that relates to the number of drivers in the field. In a 50-car field of potential qualifiers, the second-place driver receives 98 points, third-place gets 96 points, the 43rd-place driver gets 16 points (because he beat eight other driver to even get into the field) and so on until the last non-qualifier in 50th-place gets two points.

Only races run in the last three months count in this formula.

The Cup, IRL and Formula 1 series start at 110 points for a victory (since its so difficult to win one of these races) and then decrements 1/50th of 110 points for each subsequent position. It’s an unscientific way to determine who is the best in their series, while simultaneously trying to compare apples to oranges.

Previous Unified Power Rankings:

Week 20

RPM teammates struggle to keep Kahne company

Only Kasey Kahne is locked into the All-Star race by virtue of winning it last year, which leaves Elliott Sadler, Reed Sorenson and A.J. Allmendinger hoping to win the Sprint Showdown or get voted in by the fans, according to

Our View: Until last year, we would have said that none of these drivers would be a very good value, but Kahne won after the fan voted him into the big show and Sam Hornish Jr. finished seventh after racing his way into last year's field.

Newman knows how special All-Star race is

"Until I won the Daytona 500, the All-Star win was my greatest victory," said Ryan Newman in a press release this week. "We beat everybody on a given night in our backyard. We weren't racing for points but racing for glory and money, and it was a great win." Newman's victory came in 2008.

Our View: If the drivers think its special, they are going to put the pedal to the metal and go flat out. Newman is one of the hottest racers in the field this weekend and he cannot be overlooked by fantasy owners.

IRL: Powers dream about to end?

Will Powers has done everything Penske Racing could expect while subbing for Helio Castroneves, but he could be out of a ride following Indy, according to

Our View: Two weeks ago in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, he finished second and there are few who will question his talent. If there is a ride open somewhere for the remaining of the season, it's hard to imagine he won't fill it, but his value as a fantasy pick will be limited by the resources of the team.

Kenseth is a true All-Star

Matt Kenseth will race in his ninth straight All-Star races, according to a team press release, which makes him a true All-Star.

Our View: In that span, he's earned five top-10s, three of which were top-fives, but the crowning moment was his victory in 2001.

F1: Renault also considering options

The Renault Formula 1 teams may also chose to leave the series in 2010, according to Like Ferrari, they are upset about a potential salary cap.

Our View: It may be naive, but as long as each manufacturer has to abide by the same rules, the playing field should be level. Of course, that is an American's opinion, where salary cap restrictions have been in force since the beginning of auto racing.

Gordon seeks memorable win

Each of Jeff Gordon's All-Star wins has been memorable in its own right, and when he's not in victory lane there, one of his current teammates has been, according to

Our View: Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have combined for eight of the last 14 wins of this event, and while they may have been running for another team at the time, they are just as likely to run up front this Saturday night.

IRL: Tracy says he can win

In his Blog for, Tracy asserts that he is not at Indy for the experience. He believes the team is a legitimate contender for the win.

Our View: It's hard to bet again Tracy's determination and he feels he has something to prove. In 2002—his last time at the track—a controversial ruling about the timing of a caution flag placed him in second.

All-Star race too forgiving, Johnson says

The criteria for entering the All-Star race is too forgiving, according to Jimmie Johnson. This race should be about the best of the best.

Our View: Of course, if NASCAR was interested in having the specialty race be about excellence, they wouldn't have allowed it to devolve into a crash-fest circus. This one's all about the fans—not about who's the best driver.

F1: Ferrari can survive without F1

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo believes the famed brand will find the same level of passion from fans in a series other than Formula 1 if they leave the world driving championship because of a rumored salary cap, according to

Our View: Of course, most other series have similar limits to spending and they might find it is just as difficult to buy a championship elsewhere as it is in F1.

Newman feel HMS drivers are teammates

Ryan Newman feels that the Hendrick Motorsports drivers are his teammates, because of a close bond between HMS and Stewart-Haas racing, according to

Our View: The two organizations may share information, but Newman and Tony Stewart know what to do with it. Otherwise, Gene Haas would have been just as successful with his constant stream of other races.

IRL: Servia added to Indy roster

Rahal-Letterman Racing will enter Oriol Servia in this year's Indy 500.

Our View: Servia has one win in the CART series on the road course Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. In one previous Indy 500 start, he finished 11th after starting 25th last year, so he should not be expected to earn maximum points this weekend.