Power Rankings: Johnson holding strong, but Busch rising
April 16, 2013, Pat DeCola, NASCAR.com
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Outlook: Overall, it was a pretty good week for the five-time champ. A sixth-place finish at Texas is solid, he still holds the points lead and he announced a bit of exciting personal news.
Standings: 1st, 269 points
2. Kyle Busch
Outlook: If by some chance you get to shake hands with Kyle Busch this week, be careful. You might just burn yourself, he's that hot right now. Kansas Speedway is one of six Sprint Cup tracks he has yet to claim a victory at. That could change this weekend.
Standings: 3rd, 251 points
Outlook: All things considered, Keselowski’s ninth-place finish at Texas is a testament to the wheel skills of the reigning Sprint Cup champion. He endured pre-race chaos to keep himself in the hunt and toward the top of the standings.
Standings: 2nd, 251 points
Outlook: Junior’s day at Texas -- one of his best tracks in terms of average finish -- ended in disappointment, as he got several laps down because of power issues. A rebound at Kansas isn’t a guarantee, but he has run better there lately, averaging a finish of 7.7 over the past three races.
Standings: 6th, 234 points
5. Kasey Kahne
Outlook: Kasey Kahne certainly expected to run a little better than 11th at Texas, but his stock is still on the rise, and we all know he’ll be in the mix when the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup begins. That being said, if it doesn’t work out, he always has go-karting to fall back on.
Standings: 7th, 232 points
6. Carl Edwards
Outlook: When he was a little less successful over the past two years than we’ve gotten used to, Carl Edwards retreated to relative anonymity. Now that he’s doing so well in 2013, he still isn’t getting as much recognition as he might deserve. But that doesn’t matter to him.
Standings: 5th, 234 points
7. Greg Biffle
Outlook: Greg Biffle was a popular pick to have a strong finish at Texas, and the Roush Fenway Racing driver followed through. He recovered from a pit-road penalty to secure a fourth-place finish, and was quite pleased with it.
Standings: 4th, 239 points
8. Matt Kenseth
Outlook: Matt Kenseth’s 2013 has been somewhat up and down, but many still see him as a strong contender to compete for a championship. He does have five top-fives and a win at Kansas, so this weekend could be one of those ‘ups’.
Standings: 11th, 204 points
9. Joey Logano
Outlook: It was a wild weekend for Joey Logano, full of inspection drama and top-five finishes. He’s running the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series again this weekend, which could prove to be a beneficial decision with extra time on the track.
Standings: 9th, 207 points
10. Clint Bowyer
Outlook: Clint Bowyer ran a mediocre race at Texas on Saturday. There’s no getting around it. Sure, there were plenty of actual car and race-related factors, but that probably won’t stop him from changing up his pre-race meals in the future.
Standings: 8th, 208 points
11. Kevin Harvick
Outlook: For the most part, Kevin Harvick has to be disappointed with his season so far. His 13th-place finish at Texas vaulted him into 12th in the standings, but he’ll really have to focus this weekend. Kansas hasn’t been friendly to him in the past.
Standings: 12th, 192 points
12. Jeff Gordon
Outlook: No stranger to bad luck in 2013, Jeff Gordon was hit hard again in Texas. A flat tire caused the veteran to finish in 38th, despite having a fast car. At least he keeps a good perspective.
Standings: 15th, 171 points
13. Paul Menard
Outlook: Who would have thought after seven races the Richard Childress Racing driver that has shown the most promise would be Paul Menard? Not many, but until he proves otherwise, Menard may be here to stay.
Standings: 10th, 206 points
14. Aric Almirola
Outlook: It's possible most took Aric Almirola's third-place finish in qualifying with a grain of salt, but he promptly backed it up by taking seventh at Texas, a track he hadn't shown much promise at in the past.
Standings: 14th, 186 points
15. Tony Stewart
Outlook: How much longer can we say "this is the week Stewart breaks out of his funk?" Time is running out. Kansas could offer a second chance, as he has two wins and finished fifth in the last race there.
Standings: 22nd, 158 points
16. Martin Truex Jr.
Outlook: Front-end too low or not, Martin Truex Jr. drove like a madman (in a good way) on Saturday. Could this be the spark that the Michael Waltrip Racing driver needs to propel himself into the picture?
Standings: 16th, 169 points
17. Ryan Newman
Outlook: We haven't heard too much from Ryan Newman in 2013, but he finished 10th at Texas and has a paint scheme with flames on it for Kansas. Hard to complain about that.
Standings: 17th, 169 points
18. Jamie McMurray
Outlook: Jamie McMurray is just barely on the outside looking in with regard to the Chase standings, but based on just two career top-10 finishes at Kansas, he could fall further away from that mark after this race.
Standings: 13th, 190 points
19. Kurt Busch
Outlook: Kurt Busch's stock rose tremendously after back-to-back top-5 finishes at Bristol and Fontana, but with consecutive 37th-places since, he's right back where he started.
Standings: 24th, 151 points
20. Marcos Ambrose
Outlook: Marcos Ambrose looked good heading into Saturday after showing some serious speed in practice, but things fell apart toward the end of the race and he finished in 18th.
Standings: 18th, 169 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.
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