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Power Rankings: Junior rides streak to top

March 26, 2013, Pat DeCola,

New points, power rankings leader for second consecutive week

Driver                    Change            High/Low            Last race


1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  


Outlook: Earnhardt has finished in the top 10 of every race this season, and it has paid off. He's sitting pretty atop the standings and the rankings. It's good to be Junior these days.
1st, 199 points

2. Brad Keselowski       


Outlook: Keselowski was unable to keep his top-five streak alive, but he was masterful on Sunday nonetheless. He finished 23rd after his car overheated, but had a chance to win the race on the final restart despite two penalties that put him at the back of the pack.
2nd, 187 points

3. Jimmie Johnson         


Outlook: California drivers tend to succeed at Auto Club Speedway. That wasn’t the case as Johnson and Jeff Gordon struggled Sunday. Five-Time’s 12th-place finish is actually quite impressive, however, considering he was running in the 20s for most of the day.
3rd, 183 points

4. Kyle Busch                


Outlook: Taking into account how dominant Busch was this weekend and how high his stock is rising, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver could have easily been first in these rankings without a complaint. There’s no denying he was the driver of the race on Sunday.
6th, 163 points

5. Kasey Kahne                


Outlook: We didn’t hear from Kahne a whole lot on Sunday, just a week after he was ringing the victory bell at the Hendrick Motorsports complex. His ninth-place finish was a quiet one, but certainly not a negative one.
7th, 159 points

Related Links:

Sprint All-Star Race fan vote open

Video: Race Rewind -- Auto Club 400

Video: Busch cleans house for Toyota triumph

Video: Weekend Top 5 -- Fontana

Post-Auto Club 400 driver reports

Video: Final Laps -- Busch wins spectacular finish

Video: Victory Lane -- Kyle Busch

Race RePlay: Auto Club 400

Video: Martin wrecks Gilliland, spins out


6. Matt Kenseth                

Outlook: Kenseth earned a solid seventh-place finish on Sunday, but that might not be the story. Perhaps things got a bit prickly between he and former teammate Greg Biffle following Kenseth’s departure from Roush Fenway Racing. Stay tuned on this one.
11th, 141 points

7. Greg Biffle              


Outlook: Despite being the second of two Roush Fenway Racing drivers in the top five in points, it's a fair assumption to say that Biffle doesn't get the attention he deserves. First of all, he's been great in 2013. Secondly, he's a dog lover.
5th, 164 points

8. Denny Hamlin            


Outlook: A week after being chased down by Joey Logano following the race, the Penske Racing driver and Hamlin wrecked on the final lap, causing the driver of the No. 11 Toyota to make a hospital visit. Plus, he might need back surgery.
10th, 145 points


9. Joey Logano                 


Outlook: Logano sure looked like a 22-year-old at the end of the race and right after on Sunday. He was so concerned with beating Hamlin that Kyle Busch snuck in to take the victory. Logano then fought with Tony Stewart after the dust settled from Hamlin’s wreck. That being said, he still ran a heck of a race.
9th, 146 points

10. Carl Edwards           


Outlook: Edwards used his third top-five finish to vault himself into the top five of the standings, a place not many expected him to be in 2013.  It might be tough for him to maintain his hot streak at Martinsville, where he has just one top-five finish in 17 starts.
4th, 164 points


11. Clint Bowyer              


Outlook: It feels like every other week Bowyer is either back in the picture with a strong showing or the victim of bad luck. This week? Engine trouble.
14th, 137 points


12. Kurt Busch               


Outlook: Who saw this coming? A year after finishing 25th in the points standings (his worst since 2001), the former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion looks like a force to be reckoned with in 2013. Back-to-back top-five finishes? Not bad.
Standings: 13th, 137 points


13. Kevin Harvick          


Outlook: One driver who was particularly disappointed in his finish? Harvick. Expect to see the former Martinsville winner back on track after the break.
15th, 130 points


14. Jeff Gordon               


Outlook: It’s a borderline miracle that Gordon finished as high as he did (11th) in Fontana. The Hendrick Motorsports driver struggled to break the top 20 all afternoon after taking a significant amount of right-side damage. If he can drive like that at Martinsville, by far his best track, he could be a solid pick to get his first win of 2013.
Standings: 18th, 123 points


15. Tony Stewart           


Outlook: It wasn’t exactly family-friendly, but was anyone complaining about Stewart’s testy post-race tirade regarding his new pal Joey Logano? Didn’t think so.
22nd, 108 points


16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.        


Outlook: If the season ended today, Stenhouse Jr. would be in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Think about that. (And while you’re at it, voting is now open for the Sprint All-Star Race, for which he is on the ballot)
Standings: 12th, 139 points


17. Martin Truex Jr.         


Outlook: Truex Jr. is another driver who was supremely disappointed in his performance Sunday, causing his lowest ranking of the season. Unfortunately for him, it’s looking like there won’t be much room for error when it comes to making the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup this year, and he’s got a lot of ground to cover.
Standings: 19th, 122 points


18. Ryan Newman               


Outlook: Newman had his third top-10 finish of the season Sunday, and you know what that means, people. Free Bloomin’ Onions!
Standings: 20th, 121 points

19. Paul Menard             


Outlook: Menard is behind a boatload of talented drivers in these power rankings, despite his excellent start to the season. The driver of the No. 27 Chevrolet is in the top 10 in points and has an average finish of 13.6.
Standings: 8th, 154 points


20. Aric Almirola          


Outlook: While some drivers lamented their finish, Almirola was proud of where he stood at the end of the Auto Club 400. He also touched on this, too.
Standings: 17th, 125 points


In the rearview

Note: These rankings have been determined by a poll that included writers Kenny BruceHolly Cain, David Caraviello and Zack Albert, and video host Alan Cavanna. Tell us what you think about the Power Rankings. Use the hashtag #NASCARPOWER.


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