Power Rankings: Kahne leaps; Bowyer, Gordon drop
March 12, 2013, Pat DeCola, NASCAR.com
Driver Change High/Low Last race
Outlook: The rivalry between Johnson and Keselowski grows stronger as each week passes, but for now the five-time Sprint Cup champion holds rank on the reigning champ here -- as well as in the standings.
Standings: 1st, 129 points
Outlook: Keselowski is tracking down Johnson in the standings and inches closer in the voting for these rankings each week, receiving two first-place votes to Johnson's three. Last year's winner at Bristol, Keselowski could be sitting atop the standings and the rankings this time next week.
Standings: 2nd, 124 points
3. Matt Kenseth
Outlook: Kenseth appears to be back on track after taking his first victory for Joe Gibbs Racing at Las Vegas on Sunday -- on his birthday, no less. He still has a few guys to leap-frog in the standings, but he could get there.
Standings: 7th, 93 points
Outlook: Junior is always successful at Daytona, but he's maintained his hot start through the first three races of the season on three very different tracks. It could be a sign of things to come, as 2013 is looking like a positive one for the Hendrick Motorsports driver.
Standings: 3rd, 119 points
5. Kasey Kahne
Outlook: Despite being so far down in the standings, Kahne's rise in the rankings can be pinned on the fact that he truly dominated Sunday's race, leading 114 of 267 laps on the way to a runner-up finish.
Standings: 14th, 77 points
6. Carl Edwards
Outlook: Edwards followed up his monumental victory at Phoenix with a top-five finish at Las Vegas, injecting himself into the points conversations convincingly. Looks like he could be here to stay.
Standings: 5th, 98 points
7. Denny Hamlin
Outlook: It was a tumultuous week for Hamlin, having been the talk of the race at Phoenix for his masterful maneuvering, then being fined for disparaging comments and finally settling for a 15th-place finish at Vegas. It's tough to tell where he'll go from here.
Standings: 4th, 102 points
8. Kyle Busch
Outlook: Busch ran one of the most complete races of the season by any driver on Sunday, picking off cars one by one (and sometimes a few at a time) and eventually moving up from his starting position of 13th to lead for 27 laps and finish fourth.
Standings: 17th, 72 points
9. Tony Stewart
Outlook: Despite an 11th-place finish at Vegas, defending race-winner Stewart and his team are all struggling at the moment, with Smoke averaging a 20th-place finish after three races.
Standings: 18th, 72 points
10. Clint Bowyer
Outlook: One of the many victims of race condtion differences from practice, Bowyer's Toyota experienced handling issues on Sunday and never stood a chance.
Standings: 9th, 89 points
11. Kevin Harvick
Outlook: After crashing in Daytona and finishing out of the top 10 last week, Harvick will gladly take a ninth-place finish to get things picked back up.
Standings: 19th, 68 points
12. Greg Biffle
Outlook: Biffle started strong with a convincing sixth place finish at Daytona, but with two consecutive 17th spots, Biffle could be more ordinary than extraordinary.
Standings: 8th, 93 points
13. Jeff Gordon
Outlook: The Car of Tomorrow wasn't entirely friendly to Gordon and with just one start resulting in a finish greater than top 20, the Gen-6 might not be either.. Standings: 13th, 79 points
14. Martin Truex Jr.
Outlook: Truex Jr. had a rough go of it at Daytona but has finished 14th and 11th the past two weeks, which is just about where we expect him to be. Maybe even a little better.
Standings: 22nd, 64 points
15. Paul Menard
Outlook: Menard has actually stayed above average so far in 2013. He's currently in a prosperous position in the standings and it isn't totally crazy to think he could stay right there. Then again, it's not totally sane, either.
Standings: 12th, 82 points
Outlook: Stenhouse has shown nothing yet this season that leads us to believe he'll be more than a middle-of-the-pack driver, but for a 22-year-old learning Sprint Cup racing, that isn't the worst thing in the world.
Standings: 11th, 87 points
17. Aric Almirola
Outlook: Hey, alright. Almirola's finished in a worse spot each week consecutively, but no worse than 16th. The No. 43 car is showing some promise.
Standings: 10th, 88 points
18. Joey Logano
Outlook: It's certainly not the best comparison, but some reason it feels natural to measure Logano next to Stenhouse, and vice versa. Logano may have won the battle with a 12th-place finish Sunday, but Stenhouse is winning the war.
Standings: 15th, 76 points
19. Ryan Newman
Outlook: Again, Stewart-Haas cars are having a tough time out there. Newman endured technical problems for the second week in a row and has quite the hole to dig out of because of it.
Standings: 31st, 50 points
20. Marcos Ambrose
Outlook: He had a nice recovery from a potential spinout, but other than that Ambrose drove a particularly unremarkable race on Sunday. And his finish -- 22nd -- reflects that.
Standings: 16th, 74 points
In the rearview
Note: These rankings have been determined by a poll that included writers Kenny Bruce, Holly Cain, David Caraviello and Zack Albert, and video host Alan Cavanna. Tell us what you think about the Power Rankings. Use the hashtag #NASCARPOWER.
We apologize. We are having technical issues with our comment sections and fan community and it is temporarily unavailable. We are actively working on these issues and hope to have it up and running soon. We are also working on enhancements to provide a better forum for our fans. We appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience.