Power Rankings: Busch tumbles after Sonoma flop
June 25, 2013, Pat DeCola, NASCAR.com
Outlook: A ninth-place finish isn’t a huge victory for Johnson, but it’s enough to hold on to most of his points lead. After a rough go of it at Michigan, all four Hendrick cars rebounded at Sonoma.
Standings: 1st, 573 points
2. Carl Edwards
Outlook: Edwards has held onto second place in the standings for quit some time now -- since Richmond, in fact -- and is slowly starting to chip away at Johnson’s points lead. Will he catch him? Not unless something crazy happens.
Standings: 2nd, 548 points
RELATED: Edwards post-race reaction
3. Clint Bowyer
Outlook: Heading into the race, Bowyer (and Danica Patrick) hoped to receive the respect he felt he deserved from Jacques Villeneuve. After finishing 5th to Villeneuve’s 41st, the French Canadian will have no choice but to do so.
Standings: 3rd, 528 points
RELATED: Bowyer post-race reaction
4. Matt Kenseth
Outlook: Kenseth knew going in that he hasn’t fared well at Sonoma in the past, but was determined to improve this time around. He still finished 19th, but at a track where he’s failed to crack the top 20 five times, he’ll take it.
Standings: 5th, 481 points
Outlook: With six straight top-10 finishes, Kevin Harvick should keep doing whatever he’s doing. Quick, have his PR team get the 29 other MLB teams on the phone to see if he can throw out the first pitch.
Standings: 4th, 510 points
6. Greg Biffle
Outlook: Sitting in 13th place and out of a Chase spot just three weeks ago, Biffle has turned on the jets with an average finish of 3.67 since then to put his name firmly in championship talks. Kentucky should be interesting, where he’s finished 21st in both Sprint Cup races at the track.
Standings: 6th, 479 points
Outlook: Not the biggest fan of Sonoma, for Earnhardt to finish 12th at the road course is huge. Even still, he wasn’t the only Earnhardt making headlines this week.
Standings: 7th, 479 points
RELATED: Junior takes road less traveled
Outlook: Keselowski did have the lead at one point on Sunday. And then Martin Truex Jr. took it from him. At this point though, it has to be a little concerning that Keselowski seems to get further and further from Victory Lane each week.
Standings: 9th, 454 points
9. Kasey Kahne
Outlook: Potential winner of the Quaker State 400? Kasey Kahne. The driver needs a win badly, placed second in the race last year, and, oh yeah, he’s sponsored by Quaker State.
Standings: 11th, 445 points
10. Kyle Busch
Outlook: It’s hard to believe a driver with two wins (Busch) can be lower in the standings than two without them (Bowyer, Earnhardt), but it’s the truth. His DNFs don’t help that cause, as he’s one of just four in the top 20 to have more than two.
Standings: 8th, 461 points
RELATED: Busch, Edwards wreck
11. Martin Truex Jr.
Outlook: You all had Martin Truex Jr. ending his 218-race winless streak at one of the toughest races of the season, right? Truex’s victory was exciting and inspiring, but he can’t celebrate his victory and entrance into Chase contention for too long. There are plenty waiting right behind him.
Standings: 10th, 453 points
RELATED: Truex Victory Lane 1-on-1 | Final Laps
12. Jeff Gordon
Outlook: Gordon needed another dominant day at Sonoma and he did get that, but that one extra spot could make a difference. Without that tally in the ‘W’ column, Gordon’s Chase chances are significantly lowered.
Standings: 13th, 405 points
RELATED: Gordon post-race reaction
13. Tony Stewart
Outlook: His four-race top-10 finish streak ended at Sonoma, a track he generally runs well at. The history at Kentucky is too short to get a great idea of how he’ll run, but he’s made enough progress over the past month to put himself back into contention.
Standings: 15th, 433 points
RELATED: Stewart hits Hamlin
14. Kurt Busch
Outlook: Another race, another bonus point for leading a lap for Kurt Busch. You’ve got to figure he’ll be breaking through for a win before the Chase starts. Otherwise he has little shot of making it.
Standings: 17th, 425 points
RELATED: Busch post-race reaction
15. Paul Menard
Outlook: The curve seems to be adjusting for Menard, who hung around the top 10 in the standings for most of the year but hasn’t actually finished a race better than 10th since Fontana.
Standings: 12th, 445 points
16. Joey Logano
Outlook: After two miserable finishes at Talladega and Darlington, Logano is on a bit of a roll since, averaging a finish of 8.4 over five races. The streak has helped him regain some position in the standings, but, like nearly every other driver, he needs a victory to really feel some stability.
17. Aric Almirola
Outlook: In the same category of Menard, Almirola’s early season success seems to be leveling out a bit as he adjusts to being in the 11-20 range in the standings. He hasn’t shown much reason to believe he’ll snap out of it, but it’s already been a season full of surprises, so who knows?
Standings: 16th, 428 points
18. Ryan Newman
Outlook: Newman and Gordon make an unlucky pair as the only two drivers in the top 20 with four DNFs. Because of this, despite two top-five and seven top-10 finishes, he’s below someone like Almirola -- who has no top-fives and just four top-10s -- in the standings.
Standings: 18th, 418 points
19. Marcos Ambrose
Outlook: Ambrose really had a shot to do some serious damage in the standings with a victory at Sonoma, one of his best tracks. He still finished seventh, which is fantastic for most drivers at a road course, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Standings: 22nd, 380 points
RELATED: Ambrose post-race reaction
Outlook: Stenhouse has really impressed in his first year on the circuit. His 27th-place finish at Sonoma isn’t great by any means, but he still managed to beat big names Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton, and Kyle Busch. This year wasn’t about making the Chase; it was about the experience. He’s getting plenty of it.
Standings: 19th, 406 points
In the rearview