Power Rankings: Only Kahne had much fun in 600; Biffle holds top spot

by | CBSSports.com NASCAR Blogger

It's probably not fair to compare the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600, because they're really two completely different animals.

While the 500 is one of the sports world's signature events, the 600's only real claim to fame is that it is NASCAR's longest race.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Charlotte 600

Unfortunately on Sunday, bigger did not equate to better.

To be fair, this year's edition of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" was one for the ages, a gripping affair that featured drama, emotion, entertainment and intense competition. Not every Indy 500 comes anywhere close to what took place this year at 16th and Georgetown.

But like it or not, NASCAR had to follow the opening act of Dario Franchitti's amazingly satisfying third career 500 victory with the annual Memorial Day weekend race of its own in Charlotte.

However, after a stirring and respectful pre-race show that truly struck all the right chords on this meaningful holiday, the rest of the night was forgettable, unless you were a Kasey Kahne fan.

As has been the case in far too many races this season, there was simply not much happening on track to get fans excited. While at times there were glimpses of side-by-side action deeper in the field, outside of a pretty good battle between Kahne and Greg Biffle for the top spot in the closing stages, sedate best describes Sunday night in the Queen City.

The trend of limited cautions continued, with a couple of NASCAR's infamous debris yellows tossed in for good measure (only one was truly explained and shown on the Fox telecast), denying fans of any real drama on impending restarts.

In reality, the Coca-Cola 600 was not much different than most of the other 11 races in the book this year, particularly at similar style tracks like Charlotte in Texas, Kansas, Las Vegas and Fontana. After ending last year with a championship race unlike any before, punctuated by one thrilling race after another, the first third of this year's Sprint Cup product just hasn't come close.

The malaise was just magnified Sunday coming in the aftermath of Indianapolis.

While the Indy Car Series picks up the rest of its season hoping to build on the momentum of the Brickyard, NASCAR marches on after yet another less-than-inspiring effort in Charlotte.

It's definitely not a good thing when the best you can say about a race was that at least it was completed in record time. Is it?

1Brad Keselowski2
Took over the Chase lead by 20 points thanks to a sixth place finish and Jimmie Johnson?s misfortune. This is now the Penske Racing driver?s championship to lose.
2Jimmie Johnson1
Saw his seven point lead evaporate thanks to a cut tire and trip into the wall on Sunday. Johnson now must hope a similar such fate happens to Keselowski next week at Homestead to have any shot at a sixth title.
3Kyle Busch4
Nearly ran the table in Phoenix by leading all practices and taking the pole had he been able to win the race. But a poor decision on lane choice for a late restart cost Busch a shot at Victory Lane.
4Kasey Kahne5
Ending the year on a positive note but wasn?t able to match his Phoenix victory of last November. Still a solid day with a fourth place performance.
5Clint Bowyer3
Was the victim of Jeff Gordon?s revenge that completely eliminated Bowyer from championship contention. He wasn?t an angel in the turn of events but Bowyer definitely got the worst of the situation.
6Denny Hamlin8
Hamlin?s second place finish in Phoenix a welcome rebound from two weeks of disappointment for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. He?ll be a factor for a win next Sunday in Homestead.
7Kevin Harvick12
Snapped a 44-race winless drought with Sunday?s win ironically coming on the weekend when reports of his evacuation from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 broke out.
8Greg Biffle6
A decent day for ?The Biff? in Phoenix, who was able to dodge all the last lap craziness to bring home his Roush Fenway Racing Ford seventh.
9Joey Logano13
Minding his own business until getting swept up in the Gordon-Bowyer fight. Logano was on his way to a nice effort to follow up his ninth Nationwide Series win on Saturday.
10Ryan Newman14
Rough way to earn a fifth place finish as Newman was one of the unfortunate souls to get caught in the last lap crash on the main straightaway.
11Tony Stewart9
Not a god day at all for Smoke who spun late after making contact racing for position. A 19th place finish for Stewart.
12Matt Kenseth11
Will make the final Sprint Cup start of his career for Roush Fenway Racing next week at Homestead on the heels of a 14th place effort in Phoenix.
13Martin Truex Jr.10
His race was over nearly before it started with a blown engine. After a stellar regular season Truex Jr. has suffered mightily throughout the Chase.
14Carl Edwards15
An 11th place finish for Edwards as he brings to a close one of the most disappointing seasons in his career.

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