Power Rankings: Stewart uses win for big gains
June 05, 2013, Pat DeCola, NASCAR.com
Driver Change High/Low Last race
Outlook: The Dover restart. It’s certainly something that’s going to be talked about for ages. Johnson’s extraordinary feat of falling a lap down and recovering to lead the race and seemingly have the win in hand before being black-flagged. For Johnson, it hurts. But probably a little bit less, knowing he still has a firm hold on the points lead.
Standings: 1st, 473 points
2. Carl Edwards
Outlook: As disappointing as Johnson’s Dover day was, Edwards was probably just as equally upset, if not more. The Monster Mile is one of his best race tracks, and with many of the race’s heavyweights cleared (Kenseth, Hamlin, Kahne, Truex) Edwards missed a supreme chance for a victory.
Standings: 2nd, 443 points
3. Matt Kenseth
Outlook: Just imagine a 2013 season in which Matt Kenseth isn’t prone to blown engines. Just imagine the points lead he could have by now. Yikes.
Standings: 4th, 399 points
4. Clint Bowyer
Outlook: Again, Bowyer hasn’t made the headlines with any wins this season. And he’s still in third place. Assuming his time will come this summer, it’s time to start fully considering last season’s runner-up as a legitimate threat.
Standings: 3rd, 423 points
Outlook: Harvick ran a really solid, complete race on Sunday and continues to nestle himself into a comfortable position in the Chase run. He might struggle to keep it going at Pocono, where he’ll be looking for his first win in 25 starts there.
Standings: 5th, 399 points
6. Kyle Busch
Outlook: The Toyota Racing Development engine bug still irked Kyle Busch at Dover and will continue to be a storyline as the days get longer and temperatures go up over the summer. That being said, a fourth-place finish for Rowdy was a nice recovery week for him.
Standings: 8th, 374 points
7. Kasey Kahne
Outlook: Kahne, who appeared to have one of the better cars on the track at Dover, just seemed to lose grip and spun out to all but end his day. Instead of potentially moving up to fourth in the standings, he dropped to seventh.
Standings: 7th, 392 points
Outlook: Sure, it could have been worse, but with the news of his six-point penalty, Keselowski has now lost a total of 31 points this season. Without the penalties, he'd be in fourth place.
Standings: 10th, 369 points
Outlook: Earnhardt has yet to win since his 2012 victory at Michigan. If he wants to avoid going a whole year without a victory, he’d better hope to perform at Pocono, as Michigan is the week after. Don’t count on it, though. Junior has no wins at the Tricky Triangle in 26 tries.
Standings: 6th, 398 points
10. Jeff Gordon
Outlook: Talk about veteran savvy. When Gordon opted for track position at Dover, it showed why he’s one of the best at reading situations and making the right decisions. Needless to say, it worked.
Standings: 11th, 361 points
11. Martin Truex Jr.
Outlook: Truex was really, really excited about his Dover prospects. After all, it is the site of his only career Sprint Cup victory. As you might imagine, he was pretty let down by this.
Standings: 14th, 343 points
12. Tony Stewart
Outlook: Despite all of his (and his team’s) early season struggles, we all knew it was just a matter of time before Stewart found himself back in Victory Lane. It took 13 races, and it may be just the beginning.
Standings: 16th, 338 points
13. Kurt Busch
Outlook: After topping the final Sprint Cup practice, Busch had to like his chances entering Sunday’s race. He even led eight laps and had one of the better cars out there. Safe to say he wasn’t totally pleased with his 12th-place finish.
Standings: 17th, 337 points
14. Joey Logano
Outlook: The reigning Pocono winner, Logano will look to make some serious moves this weekend. Throw in his current hot streak (discounting his slight issue last weekend) and Logano could be an excellent dark horse to win this race again.
Standings: 18th, 335 points
15. Paul Menard
Outlook: The ground is caving in underneath Menard, who has held a Chase spot after every race since Las Vegas but is slipping. It can’t be understated how far a win would stretch for him. With just two top-10s in 12 races at Pocono, don’t count on it coming this week.
Standings: 9th, 371 points
16. Greg Biffle
Outlook: Like Menard, Biffle finds himself on thin ice. With six consecutive finishes outside of the top 10, he’ll need to make an impact soon. Very soon.
Standings: 13th, 353 points
17. Denny Hamlin
Outlook: With two consecutive poles in check, Hamlin’s Chase chances began to look like a no-brainer. And then this happened. Thirty-fourth-place finishes certainly won’t go a long way in making up ground from those four races he missed due to injury.
Standings: 26th, 249 points
18. Aric Almirola
Outlook: Almirola’s place in the standings was unchanged from last week, but he handed over his Chase spot to Tony Stewart after Smoke’s big victory. Ask yourself this question: which driver has a better chance of winning one of the remaining races, Almirola or Stewart? Thought so.
Standings: 12th, 354 points
Outlook: After his second-place-showing at Dover, that’s four top-10s in six races for Montoya. And people are starting to notice. If he can pull off an oval win and succeed in the road courses, Montoya might be sticking around for a playoff run.
Standings: 22nd, 307 points
20. Ryan Newman
Outlook: It’s unclear what Newman was thinking when he ended his and David Gilliland’s days by wrecking them both. Luckily, he can make up some ground at Pocono where he has one win and 10 top-10 finishes in 22 starts.
Standings: 20th, 323 points
In the rearview