Johnson keeps stranglehold on top spot, while Kenseth, Edwards reach highest rankings of season
Driver Change High/Low Last race
Outlook: Things are looking good for ol’ Five-Time. With his rival mired in penalties and controversy, his 41-point lead atop the standings is looking even stronger, especially considering he’s the defending race winner at Darlington. Standings: 1st, 383 points
2. Matt Kenseth
Outlook: Despite giving way to race winner David Ragan, Kenseth still dominated Sunday’s race. Seriously -- just total domination. Those points he lost after that penalty? Those will be made up in no time.
Standings: 11th, 279 points
3. Carl Edwards
Outlook: Edwards was in prime position to win the Aaron's 499 as teams were directed to the garage for cover as rain poured down at Talladega Superspeedway. Still, a third-place finish behind the likes of Ragan and David Gillilland ain’t too shabby. Plus, he found some time to hang out with pro golfer Lee Westwood.
Standings: 2nd, 342 points
Outlook: Standings: Sometimes, life is easy and you can beat up on news anchors at a game of Mario Kart. And sometimes a tough restart on a green-white-checkered can end up ruining an otherwise lovely (though rainy) Sunday afternoon. Keselowski will get over this. Eventually.
Standings: 5th, 314 points
5. Clint Bowyer
Outlook: Bowyer knew going in that anything could happen at Talladega. Well, pretty much everything did happen, creating one of the most memorable races in a while. Unfortunately, it was one he’d probably like to forget.
Standings: 4th, 316 points
6. Kasey Kahne
Outlook: Kahne’s golf swing -- surprisingly -- was a thing of beauty. We saw him wielding a golf club last week when he and Ricky Fowler taught each other the tricks of their respective trades. And for something less than pretty? His car after he wrecked out on Sunday.
Standings: 6th, 299 points
7. Kyle Busch
Outlook: Busch has cooled off significantly since his string of Nationwide and Sprint Cup wins that seemed to come every weekend for a while. His No. 18 Toyota caused a big wreck with Kahne on Sunday, so he’ll have to wait another week to get back on track.
Standings: 9th, 285 points
Outlook: Junior was certainly ready to take on Talladega last weekend, but struggled to a 17th-place finish. As the season progresses, keep an eye on him as he gets more and more determined.
Standings: 3rd, 324 points
Outlook: Harvick wasn’t intimidated by the austerity of one of NASCAR’s most notorious tracks, but perhaps next time he should be. He finished in 40th place after wrecking early.
Standings: 12th, 276 points
10. Jeff Gordon
Outlook: Gordon experienced all sorts of issues throughout the entire race on Sunday, but eventually managed a respectable 11th-place finish. In case you missed his in-race updates, check out a collection of them and other social media haps in our new in-race blog here.
Standings: 14th, 269 points
11. Aric Almirola
Outlook: Oh, what’s that? Aric Almirola has a series-best four straight top-10 finishes? You bet. Now vote him into the Sprint All-Star Race because he deserves to be there. Do it.
Standings: 7th, 293 points
12. Greg Biffle
Outlook: Biffle took a really hard hit that knocked him out of the race on Sunday, causing some initial concern that he might be injured. Thankfully, he is. Unfortunately, two bad races in a row have him shooting down the standings.
Standings: 10th, 280 points
13. Paul Menard
Outlook: For the first time since Phoenix (Phoenix!) Menard finished outside of the top 20, while it was just the third time he’s finished worse than 13th in the same time frame. Who knows what the future holds for Menard, but right now, 26th-place finishes aren’t the norm.
Standings: 8th, 290 points
14. Joey Logano
Outlook: For a brief period, Logano looked primed to break out this season. The unfortunate victim of engine trouble after the delay on Sunday, combined with the final decision on his penalty appeal, have him in a tough hole to climb out of.
Standings: 18th, 237 points
15. Kurt Busch
Outlook: Well, this about sums up Talladega. Busch was running pretty well late in the race before he decided to take up flight school.
Standings: 20th, 231 points
16. Ryan Newman
Outlook: Tough break for Newman. One minute it looked like Newman was well on his way to earning fans a free Bloomin’ Onion from Outback, and the next he’s getting a little too close for comfort with Kurt Busch.
Standings: 17th, 242 points
17. Jamie McMurray
Outlook: With the insanity of Talladega, Sunday’s race sure seemed like the kind that could have fallen into McMurray’s lap and helped secure him a Chase spot. Instead, he moved down from 12th to 15th in the standings after finishing 23rd.
Standings: 15th, 267 points
18. Tony Stewart
Outlook: Stewart is one of just four previous victors to win from a starting position outside the top 25 at Talladega. He finished 27th on Sunday. His starting position? 25th on the nose.
Standings: 22nd, 224 points
Outlook: At times, Stenhouse looked fully capable of flat-out winning the Aaron’s 499, especially when working with teammate Carl Edwards. He’ll have to settle for a 13th-place finish, but a step in the right direction for the rookie, for sure.
Standings: 16th, 256 points
20. Martin Truex Jr.
Outlook: Despite a solid showing at Talladega, Truex tumbled in our rankings. At least he has the right idea in coping with his loss.
Standings: 13th, 269 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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