May 27, 2009

Week 22 Unified Power Rankings

The three major auto racing series ran one of the biggest races of their season last week when Formula 1 took to the streets of Monaco, the NASCAR Cup series ran the "Coke 341," and the IRL ran the granddaddy of them all: the Indy 500.

Each of those races carry bonus points. Instead of 110 points for a first-place finish, drivers receive 125, but we had to make some adjustments for the Cup race. Since several drivers remained on track and received better results than they earned through the strength of their cars, we based the Power Point system on average running position for this week.

No matter how count them, Jenson Button continues to be the hottest driver in auto racing having won his fifth Grand Prix in six starts. The twisty streets of Monaco make passing a near impossibility, so no one was surprised that he took the checkers after sitting on the pole. Rubens Barrichello continues to be his wing man and finished second in Formula 1 competition for the third time this season. He's going to be hard to dislodge from that spot, in fact, because he's swept the top-five alongside Button.

Tony Stewart had flashes of brilliance last week in the rain-shortened "Coke 341," but when the field was shuffled by the final rain storm he found his No. 14 Chevy stranded in 19th. Five top-fives in the previous six races, however, gave him enough momentum to stay third on the grid and first among Cup regulars.

Nationwide regular Jason Leffler ran a smart race in the Carquest Auto Parts 300 to finish sixth. That helped elevate him into the top 10 on the Unified Power Rankings scale since it was his sixth consecutive top-10 in recent races.

The Indy Racing League finally ran enough races to include them in this formula and despite winning the Indy 500, Helio Castroneves does not top their chart. There a reason for that; even though the series has run enough times, the driver has not since he was forced to sit out the Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg while being his trial for tax evasion was going on.

Dario Franchitti gets that honor. After winning the Grand Prix of Long Beach and finishing in the top 10 in three of the first four IRL races this year, he's the best of class. He shouldn't get too used to the position, however; unless Castroneves crashes early next week at Milwaukee, he is virtually guaranteed to dislodge the Scotsman.

Unified Power Rankings

RankDriverPointsLast week+/-
1Jenson Button110.6710
2Rubens Barrichello99.8320
3Tony Stewart91.6730
4Jason Leffler88.5073
5Kurt Busch88.4550
6Ryan Newman85.93104
7Jimmie Johnson85.9181
8Jeff Gordon85.454-4
9Denny Hamlin85.086-3
10Ron Hornaday Jr83.75111
11Dario Franchitti83.50NR
12Ryan Briscoe83.50NR
13Mark Webber82.00141
14Tony Kanaan81.25NR
15Danica Patrick81.00NR
16Dan Wheldon80.75NR
17Jeff Burton79.7512-5
18Mark Martin79.75202
19Kyle Busch79.5913-6
20Timo Glock79.509-11
21Brad Keselowski79.23232
22Carl Edwards77.3715-7
23Greg Biffle76.5416-7
24Fernando Alonso76.1721-3
25Joey Logano74.89316
26Kasey Kahne74.36293
27Matt Kenseth74.1918-9
28Scott Dixon74.00NR
29Matt Crafton73.7527-2
30Juan Montoya72.0019-11
31Dale Earnhardt Jr71.7926-5
32Nico Rosberg70.00375
33Brian Vickers69.5024-9
34Mike Skinner69.5032-2
35Johnny Benson Jr68.7534-1
36Jason Keller68.2530-6
37Scott Lagasse Jr68.25425
38David Reutimann68.2328-10
39Sebastian Vettel67.5017-22
40Steve Wallace67.38433
41Kevin Harvick66.7625-16
42Justin Allgaier66.75453
43Clint Bowyer65.9222-21
44Jamie McMurray65.91462
45Martin Truex Jr64.0038-7
46Rick Crawford63.755610
47Lewis Hamilton63.6736-11
48Stacy Compton63.00535
49James Buescher62.006213
50Marcos Ambrose61.9135-15

Dover Yahoo! preview

At one-mile in length with high banks and a rough, concrete surface, Dover is one of the most challenging tracks on the circuit. It's a rhythm track where drivers post long streaks of top-10 finishes. Check out this week's Yahoo! Fantasy Preview (.pdf) for a sneak peak at who'll be strong.

Johnson has Darlington chassis

This week at Dover, Jimmie Johnson will run the same chassis that he took from 42nd to second at Darlington two weeks ago, according to a team press release.

Our View: Don't worry overly if something happens to this car. His backup chassis is the same one he started and finished third at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Edwards finds success in the corners

Carl Edwards attributes success in the corners at Dover to success on the track, according to a team press release.

"Dover is pretty much a one-groove track so you need to handle well through the center of the corners in order to keep your position. We won this race in 2007, and we had two strong races there in 2008. My Aflac team is working hard and making some improvements."

Our View: If Edwards is going to turn his season around, this is a great place to do so. His last five efforts at Dover ended in finishes of third or better.

Kenseth's strong at Dover

It took a while for Matt Kenseth to get a hang of this track, according to a team press release, but once he did, the No. 17 has been one of the best cars on the track.

Our View: According to the team, Kenseth did not lead a single lap in his first nine starts at Dover, but he's been up front in seven of his last 11 attempts. He's turned that into five top-10s in his last six races.

IRL: New tire for Milwaukee

Firestone will bring a new tire to the Milwaukee Mile in an attempt to get rid of the tight condition that plagued teams last year, according to a press release from the company.

Our View: All cars will be on the same tire, which levels the playing field, but veterans usually adjust to new circumstances faster than Young Guns.

Gordon Dover preview

"Getting the car balanced right to maximize grip is pretty tricky here," said Jeff Gordon in this week's preview press release. "It's a one-mile track that is high-banked, fast and action-packed. And you're in the corners a lot here."

Our View: Gordon has been one of the strongest drivers on this concrete course during his career, but he has not posted a victory there since 2001. This is one of the most important tracks on his personal schedule, since sponsor DuPont is headquartered just up the road.