Power Rankings: Logano quickly showing strength
July 02, 2013, Pat DeCola, NASCAR.com
Logano enters top 10, becomes legitimate Chase contender
Outlook: Johnson was nothing short of dominant on Sunday, leading 182 of 267 laps, but failed to mark a finish representative of his day after spinning on a late restart. Expect a motivated Five-Time to be stronger than ever at Daytona.
Standings: 1st, 610 points
2. Matt Kenseth
Outlook: With Kenseth’s series-best fourth victory of the year in the books, it’s no surprise that the Joe Gibbs Racing driver earned a pair of first-place votes in this week’s poll. With three top-three finishes in his last four races at Daytona, Kenseth could very well be sitting on top after this weekend.
Standings: 5th, 528 points
3. Clint Bowyer
Outlook: Who needs wins? With the second-most top-10 finishes in the series at 10 (Johnson has 11), Bowyer continutes to hang around the top of the standings with consistently strong finishes. His showing at Kentucky was one of his best in 2013.
Standings: 3rd, 569 points
Outlook: Much like Bowyer, Harvick has been a model of consistency despite a few small bumps along the road. He’s put himself in position to keep it up down the stretch, too.
Standings: 4th, 544 points
5. Carl Edwards
Outlook: Edwards is still hanging on to his second position in the points standings, but just by a thread. The further we get from his lone win (Phoenix), the less it looks like Edwards can actually challenge Johnson atop the standings.
Standings: 2nd, 572 points
6. Kyle Busch
Outlook: Busch was just kidding when he muttered the phrase, “I hate Matt Kenseth,” but was he a little jealous of Kenseth’s victory on Sunday? Probably. Still, a fifth-place finish is a solid comeback finish for Busch, who finished 35th at Sonoma.
Standings: 7th, 500 points
Outlook: Bad luck in the form of an errant Denny Hamlin tire hurt Earnhardt’s chances to win from his first Coors Light Pole of the season, but he was still able to muster a 12th-place finish that helped him jump a spot in the standings.
Standings: 6th, 512 points
Outlook: Truex is on a heck of a roll lately, with his win at Sonoma and seventh-place finish at Kentucky shooting him up the standings and into a non-Wild Card Chase spot. With the amount of intermediate ovals remaining on the schedule, he could be here to stay.
Standings: 8th, 490 points
9. Kasey Kahne
Outlook: In recent weeks Kahne has slightly recovered from three miserable races at Dover, Pocono and Michigan, but not enough to be comfortable. His Bristol win has him holding onto the first of two Wild Card spots, but without adding another win down the stretch he could continue to slip.
Standings: 11th, 478 points
10. Joey Logano
Outlook: After his poor finish at Darlington that had him sitting in 19th place, it looked like Logano might need one more year of seasoning before breaking through. Fast-forward to today, when he’s finished in the top 11 in the six races since then and the 23-year-old is looking like he could sneak into the Chase, even without a win.
Standings: 10th, 479 points
11. Greg Biffle
Outlook: Biffle was starting to look like he had developed a really solid program after struggling for a six-race stretch from Kansas to Dover. And then Kurt Busch decided to go low and ended up clipping Brad Keselowski and causing a wreck that ended Biffle’s day.
Standings: 9th, 489 points
12. Jeff Gordon
Outlook: While Gordon may have found himself a relatively anonymous character in New York City, every driver is quite aware of his existence and the fact that he’s two points shy of the final non-Wild Card Chase spot.
Standings: 12th, 477 points
13. Brad Keselowski
Outlook: Keselowski is in trouble. Big, big trouble. With no wins to his credit thus far and just one top-10 finish in the last nine races, the reigning champ currently finds himself in 13th place, with no answers.
Standings: 13th, 465 points
14. Tony Stewart
Outlook: Stewart started to turn things around starting with Charlotte, but a pair of poor finishes at Sonoma and Kentucky slid him down the standings a bit, despite holding onto the final Chase spot. As the defending race-winner, look for him to get back on track at Daytona this weekend.
Standings: 16th, 457 points
15. Kurt Busch
Outlook: Busch was the main cause of the major wreck that ended Keselowski’s and Biffle’s days, yet he managed to squeak by and finish sixth. Funny how that happens, eh?
Standings: 14th, 463 points
16. Paul Menard
Outlook: It’s too bad Menard didn’t get a fair shot at competing on Sunday, as his involvement in the Busch/Keselowski wreck ended his chances at running well at a track that Richard Childress Racing cars tested at.
Standings: 15th, 459 points
17. Ryan Newman
Outlook: Newman’s 14th-place finish at Kentucky is basically right about where he should be, and is roughly his ceiling in terms of where he can expect to finish in the standings. Currently in 18th, even with some strong finishes he really doesn’t have much of a shot to make the Chase without a pair of wins.
Standings: 18th, 448 points
18. Jamie McMurray
Outlook: It’s hard to believe McMurray, the 2003 Rookie of the Year, notched his first top-five finish since 2011 by finishing as the runner-up at Kentucky on Sunday. As a former Daytona 500 winner, look for the EGR driver to roll into this weekend on a high note.
Standings: 19th, 437 points
19. Aric Almirola
Outlook: While Almirola did give up a baseball career for racing, his tenure at the “major league level” of NASCAR -- the Sprint Cup Series -- hasn’t gone too well. He’s still searching for his first victory and has finished in the top five just twice in his career (2010 and 2012).
Standings: 17th, 457 points
Outlook: Another race, another mid-teens finish for Stenhouse. He has yet to crack the top-10 this season, but you have to figure with the progress he’s made, he will before the season is over. After finishing 12th in the Daytona 500, don’t count out this weekend.
Standings: 20th, 433 points
In the rearview