Power rankings: Kahne, Newman barely clinging to final Chase spots

by | NASCAR Blogger
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Ryan Newman finishes eighth at Michigan to maintain his hold onto the last Chase spot. (US Presswire)  
Ryan Newman finishes eighth at Michigan to maintain his hold onto the last Chase spot. (US Presswire)  

The regular season continues to wind down and the two drivers holding the Chase wild-card berths are most likely also holding their breath.

Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman continue to have the two spots that go to drivers outside the top 10 in the points standings. Although neither was able to win Sunday in Michigan, the pair didn't hurt their status either.

Kahne's wild day included his involvement with Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin in a spectacular and violent crash. The trio touched while racing down the frontstretch, sending Martin sliding through the infield grass and into a crash against the pit road wall, right in front of Kahne's crew.

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Fortunately, neither Martin nor any of Kahne's team was injured.

"I slid through the grass," Kahne said. "Didn't injure [the car] too much. Just right-front damage. Mark took off towards our pit stall, exploded into that wall.

"One of our guys got hit a little bit by a tire. His oil tank exploded and stuff. That was really close to a really bad situation but it turned out all right. We're all lucky, for sure."

Kahne's crew immediately went to work repairing the damaged No. 5 Chevrolet and after several stops for repair, he was able to drive to the front.

As the checkered flag drew nearer, Kahne found himself in the lead group eventually settling for a still impressive third-place finish.

"We fixed the right front," Kahne said. "We had good pit stops. We had a nice strategy to get back to pass some of those cars, not all on the racetrack, but pass them in other ways.

"I just felt really good about our speed. Our car has been really fast. We've been pretty consistent as a team. We want to make it to the Chase. That's a big part of our season, something that we're really shooting for. I think our team has done a great job of that."

Newman's assessment of his day wasn't great but he felt at least good.

He started the day not feeling well but was able to keep it together and turn in an eighth-place finish.

"We will go on," Newman said. "Still a win is going to answer a lot of questions and we are all trying real hard.

"Just a good run and I'm proud of the guys everything was good we just got to get great."

POWER RANKINGS
CurrentDriverPrevious
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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