Power Rankings: Keselowski drops after penalty upheld
May 01, 2013, Pat DeCola, NASCAR.com
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Outlook: Johnson recovered from brief contact with Tony Stewart to finish in a respectable 12th at Richmond. It wasn’t enough to be his seventh top-10 in nine races, but it was plenty to keep his lofty lead in the standings.
Standings: 1st, 343 points
2. Kasey Kahne
Outlook: Perhaps no driver came into Richmond hotter than Kahne, but a mix-up with Mark Martin proved costly for the Hendrick Motorsports driver. Still, he’s in great position at third in the standings.
Standings: 3rd, 297 points
3. Clint Bowyer
Outlook: Heading into the Richmond race, things looked a little dicey for Bowyer, as his engine received some changes as a precautionary measure in light of the recent Toyota penalties. It sure didn’t matter, as Bowyer raced to a second-place finish. And he had plenty to say about the new Gen-6 car post-race.
Standings: 5th, 290 points
4. Matt Kenseth
Outlook: After taking the pole ahead of the Richmond race, it looked as if Kenseth was primed to make a statement victory but finished seventh despite leading 140 laps. Regardless, he’s still holding onto a Chase for the Sprint Cup wild card spot, but his fate will be determined at his appeals hearing May 8.
Standings: 13th, 241 points
5. Carl Edwards
Outlook: Getting driven to school by Carl Edwards in 2012 would have been cool, sure. But now that he sits second in the points standings, it’s even cooler.
Standings: 2nd, 300 points
Outlook: With the news dropping Wednesday that the penalties issued to he and Penske teammate Joey Logano were to be upheld, Keselowski's status as a heavyweight contender took a hit. He'll likely get back up there, but for the time being his stock is down. | Penske latest
Standings: 6th, 263 points
7. Kyle Busch
Outlook: Busch avoided disaster on Saturday after a penalty was reversed, but he might not be so lucky this weekend. Averaging just one top-10 finish per four starts in 16 career appearances at Talladega, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver could lose some ground in the standings.
Standings: 7th, 278 points
Outlook: Earnhardt was the brightest spot in an otherwise dim race for Hendrick cars, moving up late in the race to finish 10th. Expect another solid race from Junior at Talladega, where both he and his father have reigned supreme.
Standings: 4th, 297 points
Outlook: Harvick may have only led four laps all season, but he’s been just good enough that his win at Richmond vaulted him into the top 10 in points and secured his place there for the time being.
Standings: 9th, 271 points
10. Joey Logano
Outlook: The last few laps and green-white-checkered finish of the Toyota Owners 400 weren’t for the faint of heart. Logano proved he can hang with the big dogs by securing a third-place finish after a heated restart and thrilling culmination.
Standings: 17th, 228 points
11. Greg Biffle
Outlook: In some races, some drivers are extremely lucky, while others are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Biffle fell into that second category at Richmond. While still in eighth place, he dropped four places in the standings and has never won at Talladega in 20 starts.
Standings: 8th, 272 points
12. Jeff Gordon
Outlook: While an 11th-place finish didn’t harm his place in the standings too much, it didn’t help Gordon much, either. After taking the final practice and qualifying third, the Hendrick driver has to be unsatisfied with the way he fell behind in the race, but will be looking forward to Talladega, where he finishes in the top 10 nearly half the time (19 of 40 starts).
Standings: 14th, 235 points
13. Martin Truex Jr.
Outlook: For a driver looking to build some momentum, Truex Jr. was the unlucky recipient of a tight car and was later spun out once he gained track position at Richmond. Still, he’s just barely on the outside looking in with regard to the Chase.
Standings: 10th, 240 points
14. Paul Menard
Outlook: There has been just one driver to finish on the lead lap in every event this season. Not Jimmie Johnson. Not Brad Keselowski. Paul. Menard.
Standings: 11th, 227 points
15. Aric Almirola
Outlook: Almirola now has three consecutive top-10 finishes in hand, as well as the first of two wild card spots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. It’ll be tough to keep the streak alive at Talladega, however, where he has not finished above 12th in six tries.
Standings: 11th, 258 points
16. Jamie McMurray
Outlook: McMurray has gotten off to a pretty promising start in 2013 but is still looking for a signature race this season. He has no top-fives and will need a win to stay in Chase contention. He’s currently out of a spot, despite being in 12th place.
Standings: 12th, 245 points
17. Kurt Busch
Outlook: Busch didn’t seem to think his run-in with Tony Stewart was as big of a deal as say, Stewart did. Probably because Busch has two top-fives to his credit this season, while Stewart merely has one top-10.
Standings: 20th, 216 points
18. Ryan Newman
Outlook: While he was up to fourth place late in the race, Newman fell behind as things wound down and he finished in 15th. With two DNFs under his belt, his one top-five and four top-10 finishes this season haven’t amounted to much, as he’s still in 16th place.
Standings: 16th, 229 points
19. J. Pablo Montoya
Outlook: Everyone was surprised at how well Montoya ran the Richmond race -- especially at the end. The EGR driver nearly secured his first Sprint Cup win on an oval track but was still pleased with his fourth-place finish.
Standings: 24th, 183 points
20. Tony Stewart
Outlook: Frustration clearly got to the agitated and disappointing Stewart on Saturday, as minor contact with Kurt Busch led to a heated exchange between the drivers post-race. There’s still plenty of season left and this might not be the end of Stewart’s meltdowns.
Standings: 22nd, 207 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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