Power Rankings: Junior, Kahne rise to top five
August 06, 2013, Pat DeCola, NASCAR.com
Both drivers solidified Chase spots; Bowyer, Harvick, Edwards, Kyle Busch all drop
Outlook: Johnson rallied for a respectable finish, but for a race in which he was a heavy favorite, it’s a disappointment for him. Still with his sudden tire issues, it could have been a lot worse.
Standings: 1st, 772 points
2. Matt Kenseth
Outlook: Usually, when a driver spins at the end of the race, he’s not the one that ends up with the win. That’s just a general rule to live by. Example: Matt Kenseth at Pocono.
Standings: 7th, 638 points
Outlook: Of course he wants a win, but Junior was even dissatisfied with a fifth-place finish. Suppose he needed the victory with a track coming up that hasn’t historically been kind to him.
Standings: 5th, 656 points
4. Kasey Kahne
Outlook: Kahne’s decision to make a move outside of Jeff Gordon after the last restart -- not to mention the execution -- was stellar. It’s why he ended up in Victory Lane, and Gordon was left blowing out his birthday candles, wishing for a do-over.
Standings: 8th, 612 points
5. Clint Bowyer
Outlook: Bowyer, still looking for his first win in 2013, has to be thinking he’d rather be racing at Sonoma than Watkins Glen this weekend. The New York track has yet to fall into the same sort of mastery Bowyer has over Sonoma.
Standings: 2nd, 695 points
Outlook: All three Richard Childress Racing cars found themselves privy to something less than mediocrity on Sunday.
Standings: 4th, 675 points
7. Carl Edwards
Outlook: Edwards is kind of the opposite of Bowyer when it comes to road courses, good at The Glen and average at Sonoma. He could be a sleeper pick this week, which is great news for him. Because that Phoenix win feels like forever ago.
Standings: 3rd, 688 points
8. Kyle Busch
Outlook: If Busch was ever to get his revenge on Jimmie Johnson for whatever beef he had with Five-Time following qualifying, Pocono would have been the time to do it. Instead, he finished in eighth place, five spots ahead of Johnson.
Standings: 6th, 646 points
9. Jeff Gordon
Outlook: Though he needed the win more than anything, Gordon and his team know how important the runner-up spot was in maintaining their consistency and his 2013 Chase hopes.
Standings: 9th, 602 points
10. Tony Stewart
Outlook: Obviously, Stewart's outlook hinges completely upon his broken leg, but something tells me he'll do everything in his power to get back in that car before the Chase spots lock. You wouldn't expect anything less, would you?
Standings: 11th, 594 points
11. Kurt Busch
Outlook: Kurt Busch was tabbed our best value pick in NASCAR Fantasy Live this week, and with good reason. Throw in the fact that he’s solidly in the Chase hunt and never looked better, and it’s been a good week for Kurt, who also celebrated a birthday Sunday.
Standings: 13th, 588 points
12. Greg Biffle
Outlook: Boy, Biffle is in a good spot because of that Michigan win. He’d be in such a shaky position right now if he was winless and at the bottom of the non-Wild Card standings.
Standings: 10th, 599 points
13. Ryan Newman
Outlook: Something lit a fire in Newman ever since he learned he was out of a job for next season and he’s been on quite a roll. It’s a true inspirational rags to riches story. Still looking for a Chase spot, though.
Standings: 15th, 575 points
14. Brad Keselowski
Outlook: It was a busy -- but successful -- weekend for the reigning champ, winning as an owner and driver on Saturday and beginning his recovery in the standings on Sunday with a sixth-place finish.
Standings: 15th, 575 points
15. Martin Truex Jr.
Outlook: Can he do it again? Sitting in 14th (but with a Chase spot), he certainly knows he needs another victory. Don’t count on Truex to win another road course race, however. Remember how long it was between wins for him last time.
Standings: 14th, 584 points
16. Joey Logano
Outlook: Logano has big shoes to fill (kind of) when he races in the Penske No. 48 Ford in the Nationwide race on Saturday, but if for nothing else it’ll give him some more laps on a course he doesn’t know too well in a race he needs to win on Sunday.
Standings: 17th, 561 points
17. Jamie McMurray
Outlook: McMurray needs to do one thing. Pull a Truex. A “Truex”, of course, being shocking everyone by winning a on road course and making yourself relevant immediately. No sweat.
Standings: 16th, 566 points
18. Aric Almirola
Outlook: Almirola’s tire popped on Sunday. His 2013 Chase hopes balloon popped a while ago, too.
Standings: 18th, 554 points
19. Paul Menard
Outlook: It’s hard to believe Menard was actually relevant in the standings for such a good chunk of the season, with just four top-10 finishes to date.
Standings: 19th, 532 points
20. Jeff Burton
Outlook: A Jeff Burton Chase run would have been fun, and even though he declared himself back in it at New Hampshire, that run looks to be about over.
Standings: 20th, 507 points
In the rearview