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Power Rankings: Edwards soars

March 05, 2013, Pat DeCola,

Edwards makes the biggest jump post-Subway Fresh Fit 500

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1. Jimmie Johnson      


Outlook: With a unanimous first-place selection, a second-place finish at Phoenix and his Daytona 500 crown in hand, Five-Time isn't going anywhere.
Standings: First, 90 points

2. Brad Keselowski    


Outlook: If you were expecting the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion to stumble out of the gate, think again. Keselowski might struggle at Las Vegas, though, as it's one of just three tracks where he has failed to record a top-10 finish at the Cup level. 
Standings: Third, 82 points

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.   


Outlook: If it weren't for a late restart penalty, it's possible we could have been looking at Junior's second victory in the past five seasons. Regardless, he has opened the season with two top-five finishes and appears to be back on track.
Second, 82 points

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4. Clint Bowyer


Outlook: Last year's runner-up was left out of the top 10 in the 500 but improved at Phoenix, finishing sixth behind a quintet of heavyweights. Things are looking good for the Michael Waltrip Racing driver. For the most part.
Fifth, 72 points

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5. Matt Kenseth            


Outlook: The preseason favorite of many, Kenseth didn't finish the 500, then had a good showing in Phoenix. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has some catching up to do, especially with the amount of stars ahead of him.
18th, 46 points

6. Denny Hamlin           


Outlook: Hamlin's maneuvering at the end of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 was nothing short of spectacular, and rightly earned him the Mobil 1 Driver of the Race award. Don't count on it being his only one of the season.
Fourth, 72 points

7. Jeff Gordon            


Outlook: Gordon spun an uninspiring 20th-place finish in the 500 but rebounded at Phoenix, despite the backstory. He might struggle to gain traction at Las Vegas, however, where he's had average success.
Eighth, 60 points

8. Tony Stewart        


Outlook: Much like Gordon, Stewart rebounded at Phoenix from a poor 500 showing. But now that the cameras aren't shining as brightly on teammate Danica Patrick, we'll see if 'Smoke' can keep it up.
23rd, 51 points

9. Carl Edwards       


Outlook: The backflip is back. For now, at least. Edwards has two wins at Las Vegas, but has only finished in the top 10 in half his races there.
11th, 59 points

10. Greg Biffle          


Outlook: A strong 500 showing and an above-average one at Phoenix has Biffle near the top of the leaderboard in points. If he can notch his second Las Vegas pole, he'll be in good shape to improve his standing.
Sixth, 66 points

11. Kasey Kahne         


Outlook: Things are going well for Hendrick Motorsports when all four drivers are in the top 11 of these Power Rankings. But with Kahne's stock trending down after two frustrating races, that number could be down to three soon.
31st, 33 points

12. Kevin Harvick      


Outlook: Another preseason favorite, Harvick's poor 500 showing after a stellar weekend put him in a tough spot at Phoenix, but he improved to a 13th-place finish. He's still got quite the hole to dig out of, though.
Standings: 30th, 33 points

13. Kyle Busch          


Outlook: Kyle Busch can clearly drive, as he dominated all weekend and took Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race. He'll improve in the Sprint Cup Series soon, but in the meantime he has yet to break the top 20. Standings: 33rd, 31 points

14. Martin Truex Jr.


Outlook: Two difficult races to open the season have put Truex Jr. low in the standings. One top-10 finish in his seven starts at Las Vegas doesn't bode well for a possible rebound.
Standings: 34th, 28 points

15. Ryan Newman      


Outlook: The odds were stacked against Newman following his fifth-place finish at Daytona, and he struggled Sunday. Newman couldn't seem to stay away from the wall in Phoenix and finished 40th.
20th, 44 points

16. Joey Logano    


Outlook: Logano has shown nothing yet this season that leads us to believe he'll be more than a middle-of-the-pack driver, but for a 22-year-old learning Sprint Cup racing, that isn't the worst thing in the world.
Standings: 21st, 44 points

17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.


Outlook: Wouldn't it be interesting if by the end of the season, Stenhouse Jr. received more attention than his gal pal Danica Patrick? If he keeps posting top-15 finishes, he will. And that Sunoco Rookie of the Year award will sit on his side of the mantle.
Standings: Ninth, 60 points

18. Marcos Ambrose      


Outlook: Ambrose has finished 18th in both of the season's races, so, unsurprisingly, he's 18th here. His ceiling might not be too much higher than this
Standings: 12th, 52 points

19. Paul Menard             


Outlook: Same story as Ambrose, different chapter. Twenty-first finish in the 500 and 20th in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 for Menard. He'll hang around spots 16-20 for most of the season. In the meantime, here's some photos of him.
Standings: 17th, 48 points

20. Jeff Burton              


Outlook: Burton suffered a 30th-place finish in the 500 after his No. 31 car got to know the side of the wall very well, then rebounded in a big way with a top 10 at Phoenix. If 'The Mayor' can keep that up, he'll shoot back up these rankings.
Standings: 15th, 48 points


In the rearview


Note: These rankings have been determined by a poll that included writers Kenny BruceHolly 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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