Power Rankings: Edwards soars
March 05, 2013, Pat DeCola, NASCAR.com
Driver Change High/Low Last race
Outlook: With a unanimous first-place selection, a second-place finish at Phoenix and his Daytona 500 crown in hand, Five-Time isn't going anywhere.
Standings: First, 90 points
Outlook: If you were expecting the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion to stumble out of the gate, think again. Keselowski might struggle at Las Vegas, though, as it's one of just three tracks where he has failed to record a top-10 finish at the Cup level.
Standings: Third, 82 points
Outlook: If it weren't for a late restart penalty, it's possible we could have been looking at Junior's second victory in the past five seasons. Regardless, he has opened the season with two top-five finishes and appears to be back on track.
Standings: Second, 82 points
4. Clint Bowyer
Outlook: Last year's runner-up was left out of the top 10 in the 500 but improved at Phoenix, finishing sixth behind a quintet of heavyweights. Things are looking good for the Michael Waltrip Racing driver. For the most part.
Standings: Fifth, 72 points
Driver Change High/Low Last race
5. Matt Kenseth
Outlook: The preseason favorite of many, Kenseth didn't finish the 500, then had a good showing in Phoenix. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has some catching up to do, especially with the amount of stars ahead of him.
Standings: 18th, 46 points
6. Denny Hamlin
Outlook: Hamlin's maneuvering at the end of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 was nothing short of spectacular, and rightly earned him the Mobil 1 Driver of the Race award. Don't count on it being his only one of the season.
Standings: Fourth, 72 points
7. Jeff Gordon
Outlook: Gordon spun an uninspiring 20th-place finish in the 500 but rebounded at Phoenix, despite the backstory. He might struggle to gain traction at Las Vegas, however, where he's had average success.
Standings: Eighth, 60 points
8. Tony Stewart
Outlook: Much like Gordon, Stewart rebounded at Phoenix from a poor 500 showing. But now that the cameras aren't shining as brightly on teammate Danica Patrick, we'll see if 'Smoke' can keep it up.
Standings: 23rd, 51 points
9. Carl Edwards
Outlook: The backflip is back. For now, at least. Edwards has two wins at Las Vegas, but has only finished in the top 10 in half his races there.
Standings: 11th, 59 points
10. Greg Biffle
Outlook: A strong 500 showing and an above-average one at Phoenix has Biffle near the top of the leaderboard in points. If he can notch his second Las Vegas pole, he'll be in good shape to improve his standing.
Standings: Sixth, 66 points
11. Kasey Kahne
Outlook: Things are going well for Hendrick Motorsports when all four drivers are in the top 11 of these Power Rankings. But with Kahne's stock trending down after two frustrating races, that number could be down to three soon.
Standings: 31st, 33 points
12. Kevin Harvick
Outlook: Another preseason favorite, Harvick's poor 500 showing after a stellar weekend put him in a tough spot at Phoenix, but he improved to a 13th-place finish. He's still got quite the hole to dig out of, though.
Standings: 30th, 33 points
13. Kyle Busch
Outlook: Kyle Busch can clearly drive, as he dominated all weekend and took Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race. He'll improve in the Sprint Cup Series soon, but in the meantime he has yet to break the top 20. Standings: 33rd, 31 points
14. Martin Truex Jr.
Outlook: Two difficult races to open the season have put Truex Jr. low in the standings. One top-10 finish in his seven starts at Las Vegas doesn't bode well for a possible rebound.
Standings: 34th, 28 points
15. Ryan Newman
Outlook: The odds were stacked against Newman following his fifth-place finish at Daytona, and he struggled Sunday. Newman couldn't seem to stay away from the wall in Phoenix and finished 40th.
Standings: 20th, 44 points
16. Joey Logano
Outlook: Logano 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: 21st, 44 points
Outlook: Wouldn't it be interesting if by the end of the season, Stenhouse Jr. received more attention than his gal pal Danica Patrick? If he keeps posting top-15 finishes, he will. And that Sunoco Rookie of the Year award will sit on his side of the mantle.
Standings: Ninth, 60 points
18. Marcos Ambrose
Outlook: Ambrose has finished 18th in both of the season's races, so, unsurprisingly, he's 18th here. His ceiling might not be too much higher than this.
Standings: 12th, 52 points
19. Paul Menard
Outlook: Same story as Ambrose, different chapter. Twenty-first finish in the 500 and 20th in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 for Menard. He'll hang around spots 16-20 for most of the season. In the meantime, here's some photos of him.
Standings: 17th, 48 points
20. Jeff Burton
Outlook: Burton suffered a 30th-place finish in the 500 after his No. 31 car got to know the side of the wall very well, then rebounded in a big way with a top 10 at Phoenix. If 'The Mayor' can keep that up, he'll shoot back up these rankings.
Standings: 15th, 48 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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