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Sunday, April 24, 2016

'SMOKE' IS NO. 1 ON THIS WEEK'S 'POWER PLAYERS' LIST

POWER PLAYERS for the week of  April 24: This week's 10 most influential
people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight. 

  1. Tony Stewart -- Returns from injury to begin what he says will be his final Sprint Cup season. And gets a waiver from NASCAR to be eligible for a place in the Chase. And gets fined by NASCAR for his safety-related criticism of not enforcing via the rulebook five lug nuts on every wheel. 


  2. Brian France -- NASCAR chairman defends his organization's on-going push to make stock car racing more safe, and fields other questions, at the prestigious Associated Press Sports Editors' meeting. 

  3Denny Hamlin -- As spokesman for the drivers council, defends Tony Stewart's right to speak his mind about NASCAR safety. The drivers' council paid Stewart's reported $35,000 fine. 

  4. Carl Edwards -- Two straight Sprint Cup victories for The Backflip Man . . . even if he had to bump his teammate Kyle Busch out of the way on the last lap at Richmond.

  5. Joe Gibbs -- What will The Coach have to say in this week's team meeting? Was it OK for Kyle Busch to get dumped by a teammate on the last lap with victory in sight? Gibbs and Toyota are on a powerful roll right now, so keeping the athletes calm and cooperative this week's important task.

  6. Simon Pagenaud -- After performing below expectations in 2015, his first with Team Penske, Pag has gone 2-2-1-1 this IndyCar season.

   7. Brittany Force -- Sister Courtney's long winless streak continues, but Brittany now has two NHRA Top Fuel wins and is in line for some "star" treatment from the media. 

  8. Lewis Hamilton -- Named one of worldwide sports' most influential people, the defending (but winless) world champion calls on Formula One's leaders to have the courage to experiment more with fan-friendly rules and race weekend format changes.

  9. Alan Johnson -- Drag racing's nitro class genius tuner, he consults on tune-up for Brittany Force's second Top Fuel win. She was 0-for-3 seasons until father John signed-up with AJ.

10. Graham Rahal -- With the Andretti Autosport team in a deep and unexplained performance slump, Rahal has resumed his role from last season as Honda's best hope. 

more next week . . . ]