Posted: Tuesday May 24, 2011 1:17PM ; Updated: Tuesday May 24, 2011 1:26PM
Brant James
Brant James>NASCAR POWER RANKINGS

Edwards still on top; J.J. ready to make a move at Charlotte?

NASCAR Power Rankings

It didn't count, but the dollars sure do. A million dollars doesn't seem like much in a sports climate in which the Major League Baseball minimum for 2011 is $414,500. But in the secretive independent contractor relationship of driver to team owner, there is no true measure to ever really know what a man is worth, or is willing to accept for his talent or willingness to risk his life every weekend. At least not for the public to view. And for Sprint Cup drivers/fathers like Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth, every dollar helps when considering rash-free bottoms and tuition. Considering that both drive for Roush Fenway Racing, that might be a pinhole into Roush Fenway's contract negotiating process. Have a comment? Send to siwriters@simail.com. You can also follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/brantjames

1Carl Edwards
Carl Edwards
The points leader is cashing checks and winning bets. After winning the $1.2 million-purse All-Star race on Saturday, Edwards seemed more concerned about a bet former Charlotte Motor Speedway president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler made with him in 2005. Wheeler, a master provocateur and race promoter, had torn a $100 bill and given Edwards half, promising the rest when he won his first All-Star Race. A million dollars or $100 is a lot of money, said Edwards, a former part-time substitute teacher. "It's a lot to you, isn't it? Buy a lot of diapers."
 
2Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch won his 28th Truck race as teammate/employee and former Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen finished an impressive 15th behind him. Then Busch finished second in the All-Star Race. Plus, his older brother's continued catharsis via team radio further made Kyle look like the stable Busch. Fact: He's led more laps (797) this season then Edwards (307) and Jimmie Johnson (472) combined.
 
3Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie Johnson
Slips to third with Busch's multifaceted week of bounty, but is theoretically in the right place at the right time to make a big move. Johnson has won six times at Charlotte -- though five of them came in a six-race stretch from 2003-2005 -- and very much considers it his home asphalt even with his car and the venue no longer sharing the same sponsor.
 
4Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth
Quipped before the All-Star Race that he needed the purse because he had children to put through college. Here's to your future "Badger Parent" sweatshirt, Mr. Kenseth. He only finished sixth, however, so perhaps he should look into an alternate funding source.
 
5Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Fourth in points, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s hovering since his encouraging Martinsville (2), Texas (9), Talladega (4) burst three races ago. Earnhardt's progress is too often gauged against expectation, which is a completely unwinnable parlay. He's soundly where he needs to be 11 races into the season and 15 races from when the real season begins.
 
6Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick
Couldn't have been fun for Kevin Harvick to watch Kyle Busch pass his driver, Clint Bowyer, for the truck race win. Ninth place doesn't do much for a guy in the All-Star Race. Moving on.
 
7Ryan Newman
Ryan Newman
An ill-handling No. 39 Chevrolet relegated him to a disappointing 10th-place finish. Still seventh in driver points, Ryan Newman has never won at Charlotte despite winning nine poles there.
 
8Clint Bowyer
Clint Bowyer
A Truck race victory slipped away on the final lap and the All-Star Race was far less exhilarating in a 16th-place finish.
 
9Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart
Fourth in the All-Star Race, and encouraged about what he felt from the No. 14 Chevrolet. That's been an alien concept for Tony Stewart recently. Perhaps he's ready to translate the All-Star result into a second-career victory at Charlotte.
 
10Mark Martin
Mark Martin
Veteran Mark Martin stands 11th in driver points after finishing second at Dover and could be ready to vault into the playoff boundary. His car number '5' was shaken down and refreshed by Johnson in the All-Star Race.

 
SI.com
Hot Topics: Sammy Watkins NFL Draft Rick Adelman NFL Questions Aaron Hernandez Donald Trump
TM & © 2014 Time Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you. Read our privacy guidelines, your California privacy rights, and ad choices.
SI CoverRead All ArticlesBuy Cover Reprint