Power Rankings: Kurt Busch rides up ranks
May 29, 2013, Pat DeCola, NASCAR.com
Kurt Busch, Harvick, Hamlin the big winners after impressive showings at Charlotte
Driver Change High/Low Last race
Outlook: Johnson is a surefire Hall of Famer, but lost in the shuffle of an overall exciting season is the fact that he may just be enjoying his best season yet.
Standings: 1st, 445 points
2. Matt Kenseth
Outlook: It never bodes well when arguably two of the top talents in a race ruin each other’s day, as was the case when Kenseth and Johnson collided, but don’t be fooled. The Coca-Cola 600 still had plenty of drama.
Standings: 3rd, 394 points
3. Kasey Kahne
Outlook: Kahne’s pit strategy may have foiled his shot at winning his second consecutive Coca-Cola 600, but it’s a fair assessment to say that he’s (mostly) pleased with a second-place finish and the momentum that goes along with it.
Standings: 5th, 370 points
4. Carl Edwards
Outlook: Want a solid pick for your NASCAR FantasyLive lineup this week? Take a look at Edwards, who has eight top-five finishes in 17 career races at Dover. That’s nearly half, for all you math majors out there.
Standings: 2nd, 413 points
Outlook: When Harvick’s No. 29 Chevrolet crossed the finish line Sunday night, a huge swing of power in the standings turned his way as he moved up three spots and became one of four drivers with multiple wins this season.
Standings: 7th, 362 points
6. Clint Bowyer
Outlook: Bowyer might be the only driver in the top five in the standings without a win, but his day might be coming on July 14 at New Hampshire, where he has two wins and spent a day gathering track data earlier in the month.
Standings: 4th, 385 points
7. Kyle Busch
Outlook: Really tough night for Busch at Charlotte -- what, with that whole cable thing and all. And then there was that engine thing. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver isn’t looking behind him, though. In fact, he’s looking ahead to a sweep at Dover.
Standings: 11th, 332 points
Outlook: The bad breaks continue for Keselowski, whose unfortunate run-in with Danica Patrick at Charlotte is just the latest in a string of tough luck for the reigning champ. He only has one top-10 finish at Dover, but good news. It was a win.
Standings: 10th, 335 points
Outlook: Another Charlotte race, another disappointment for Junior. He does have a victory at Dover, but his average finish of 17.2 is certainly nothing to write home to Kannapolis, N.C., about.
Standings: 6th, 364 points
10. Martin Truex Jr.
Outlook: Truex has been making some noise on the circuit lately, first with his runner-up finish in the Sprint Showdown, then with another top-10 in the 600. Flash forward to this weekend at Dover -- the site of his lone Sprint Cup victory -- and Truex could certainly be in the beginning stages of solidifying a second consecutive Chase spot.
Standings: 9th, 336 points
11. Paul Menard
Outlook: A 13th-place finish in the 600, an eighth-place spot in the standings, with a new contract to boot. Things are going pretty well for the ‘Nard Dog.
Standings: 8th, 347 points
12. Kurt Busch
Outlook: Busch nearly had a pair of victories at Charlotte and it just feels like he’s going to win one pretty soon. Or a few.
Standings: 18th, 304 points
13. Denny Hamlin
Outlook: It’s scary how good Hamlin has been since his return to full-time racing following his back injury. His pit crew has been sensational, but it seems some of us forgot how talented he is during his four-week layup.
Standings: 24th, 238 points
14. Jeff Gordon
Outlook: Gordon’s long and storied career will have to wait another week to write the latest great chapter, as the veteran driver wrecked in the 600 and finished 35th.
Standings: 15th, 320 points
15. Aric Almirola
Outlook: Almirola knows the weight that driving the No. 43 carries. He desperately wants to give the car its first win in over a decade. He didn’t exactly come close at Charlotte.
Standings: 12th, 328 points
16. Greg Biffle
Outlook: Biffle is confident that he can climb in the standings, and he’ll sure need to be. Because I’m confident that he’s in a complete free-fall, with an average finish of 29th over his last four races.
Standings: 27th, 197 points
17. Joey Logano
Outlook: Logano gained some of the traction at Charlotte that he’s been lacking lately, but might not be in line to keep it going at Dover, where he is still looking for his first win.
Standings: 19th, 298 points
18. Ryan Newman
Outlook: Only 20 points separate Newman from reigning champ Brad Keselowski, a fact that has to have Newman more determined that he can drive himself into Chase contention.
Standings: 16th, 315 points
19. Jamie McMurray
Outlook: Things at Charlotte started out really well for McMurray when he won the Sprint Showdown and earned his spot in the Sprint All-Star Race. In the 600? He drove to a 19th-place showing.
Standings: 14th, 321 points
20. Tony Stewart
Outlook: Well, how ‘bout that. His best finish since Phoenix and all of a sudden everyone is back on the Tony Stewart bandwagon. They might be onto something, as from now through August, Smoke will take his No. 14 Chevrolet to some of his best tracks
Standings: 20th, 291 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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