Power Rankings: Stewart tumbles
April 24, 2013, Pat DeCola, NASCAR.com
-- 1/3 5th
Driver Change High/Low Last race
1. Jimmie Johnson -- 1/3 3rd
Outlook: It may have been an uncomfortable week for Johnson, but it certainly didn’t show on the race track. Despite a late charge by Kasey Kahne, nobody was catching Matt Kenseth at Kansas. His third-place finish might as well count as a win, especially considering his points lead increased by 19.
Standings: 1st, 311 points
Outlook: Possibly due to his meeting with the man in charge, or perhaps that other thing hanging over his head, but regardless, Keselowski drove an inspired race on Sunday. Don’t expect that chip on his shoulder to dissolve anytime soon.
Standings: 3rd, 273 points
3. Matt Kenseth
Outlook: Back-to-back Kansas victories have Kenseth feeling pretty good. Richmond isn’t historically one of his best tracks, but he does have a win there, and he’s been running so well when he’s able to finish a race that another trip to Victory Lane may be imminent.
Standings: 8th, 252 points
4. Kasey Kahne
Outlook: Along with Truex Jr., Kahne enjoyed the biggest leap in the points standings, moving up five spots to second overall. Kahne’s stock is trending up and his second victory of the season could be right around the corner.
Standings: 2nd, 274 points
5. Kyle Busch
Outlook: Luckily it didn’t end in fisticuffs, but a wreck between Busch and Joey Logano ended the day for the two drivers, both of whom took huge hits in the points and ranks.
Standings: 7th, 257 points
Outlook: Earnhardt had his chance at a top-five finish at Kansas spoiled thanks to an untimely caution, but Junior was still pleased with his team’s progress in the race. That being said, his brief reign at the top of the standings seems a distant memory.
Standings: 5th, 263 points
7. Clint Bowyer
Outlook: Having a killer personality is one thing, but that doesn’t get a driver very far in NASCAR. Luckily there’s another side to Bowyer -- a side that can drive the heck out of a race car. His runner-up finish last year was no fluke.
Standings: 9th, 247 points
8. Greg Biffle
Outlook: Inspired by his team’s Boston Marathon relief efforts, Biffle was prepared to donate to a worthy cause and give $100 for each lap he led at Kansas. Noble, yes. Unfortunately the Roush Fenway Racing driver led zero laps on his way to a 19th-place finish.
Standings: 4th, 264 points
9. Carl Edwards
Outlook: Edwards looked fantastic all weekend heading into Sunday’s race. He took the opening practice, and nearly grabbed the pole, finishing second in qualifying. And then he took 17th in the STP 400. Not exactly the textbook definition of “following-through”.
Standings: 6th, 262 points
10. Jeff Gordon
Outlook: Gordon got behind the eight ball after crashing during qualifying and certainly wasn’t as confident as he could have been ahead of the race. Regardless, that didn’t stop the veteran from moving up from his starting position of 43rd to a 13th-place finish.
Standings: 15th, 202 points
11. Kevin Harvick
Outlook: Harvick started the STP 400 17th, and finished 12th. Good, but not great. The Richard Childress Racing driver will need to improve if he intends on holding onto his 12th and final Chase spot. He has but one top-10 finish in 2013.
Standings: 12th, 224 points
12. Martin Truex Jr.
Outlook: Time to prove everyone wrong for good, Martin Truex Jr. Consecutive top-fives have you just on the outside of a Chase spot, but Richmond has been your worst track, with an average finish of 24.1. Show us what you got.
Standings: 14th, 204 points
13. Paul Menard
Outlook: Another race, another top-10 for Menard. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that someone from the Menard, Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray, and Aric Almirola bunch will sneak into the Chase. There are 12 top-10 finishes split between them and four belong to Menard.
Standings: 10th, 240 points
14. Jamie McMurray
Outlook: Richmond hasn’t been friendly to McMurray in the past. He currently sits in the 11th spot in the standings, so it’s safe to assume that despite an excellent 7th-place finish at Kansas, the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver might be on the outside looking in after the weekend.
Standings: 11th, 227 points
15. Joey Logano
Outlook: Yikes. Just three weeks after sitting pretty in ninth place with his stock on the rise, Logano now finds himself 37 points and eight spots out of a Chase spot with no wins under his belt. Much could change with the result of his penalty appeal decision, but above all else he needs a victory.
Standings: 20th, 187 points
16. Aric Almirola
Outlook: What's a guy gotta do to get some respect around here? An eighth-place finish has him 13th in the standings, but Almirola isn't getting much recognition. His average finish of 26th in two career Richmond races doesn't bode well for heads to turn.
Standings: 13th, 222 points
Outlook: Sitting in the second row at the start of the STP 400, Stenhouse Jr. had plenty to be confident about heading into the race. The rookie made sure not to squander his opportunity, finishing a more-than-respectable 11th.
Standings: 18th, 196 points
18. Ryan Newman
Outlook: Newman (along with the rest of his Stewart-Haas Racing gang) has been mediocre at best in 2013. Richmond might be his shining moment of the season, as he averages a finish of 11.6, with one win, five top-fives, and 13 top-10s in 22 races.
Standings: 17th, 200 points
19. Kurt Busch
Outlook: The season certainly isn't a wash for Busch, as he's shown promise in spurts. Right now, it's hard to picture him gaining much traction, but it definitely isn't out of the question.
Standings: 22nd, 180 points
20. Jeff Burton
Outlook: With 37 Richmond starts under his belt, there was a time when one could look at his 16 top-10 finishes at the track and feel confident that he could add another one. Tough to feel that way these days, but Burton could certainly be looked at as a dark horse.
Standings: 23rd, 178 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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