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Power Rankings: Hamlin back in the mix

May 15, 2013, Pat DeCola,

Hamlin inserts himself back in the mix after impressive results in full-time return

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1. Jimmie Johnson      

Outlook: Johnson heads into the All-Star break with quite a lofty points lead and though he hasn’t won a race since Martinsville, there’s little question who is still in charge in the Sprint Cup Series.
Standings: 1st, 423 points

2. Matt Kenseth          

Outlook: Another race, another total domination by Joe Gibbs Racing -- Kenseth in particular. With four straight top-10 finishes and a pair of trips to Victory Lane, Kenseth appears to be the only driver on the same playing field as Five-Time right now.
3rd, 364 points

3. Carl Edwards        

Outlook: Edwards is one of just a handful of drivers who seem locks to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup this season. It has to be a huge relief for the Roush Fenway Driver, who missed the cut last season.
2nd, 379 points

4. Kasey Kahne              

Outlook: Neither driver seems to know why, but Kahne and Kyle Busch just can’t seem to stay out of each other’s way. It led to some interesting post-race comments from Kahne, which may have some foreshadowing thrown in.
6th, 326 points

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.    

Outlook: Junior had a nice ninth-place finish at Darlington, but he wasn’t the only Earnhardt making headlines this week.
4th, 359 points


6. Brad Keselowski

Outlook: Three mediocre-to-sub-par races in a row have a reeling Keselowski struggling to keep up in the points standings. Perhaps a trip down memory lane this weekend will give him a jumpstart.
7th, 326 points

7. Clint Bowyer            

Outlook: Bowyer hasn’t made a huge splash in 2013, yet he’s still fifth in the standings. It’s just a matter of time before he wins a race or two, but in the mean time, he’ll be chatting it up with Miss Sprint Cup.
5th, 349 points

8. Kyle Busch                   

Outlook: Busch may have had the best AND the worst race on Saturday night. He led for an impressive 265 laps before losing steam towards the end and finishing sixth, much to his displeasure. Plus, he now might have a heated Kasey Kahne on his tail because of this.
Standings: 8th, 325 points

9. Kevin Harvick           

Outlook: Harvick was much concerned about not screwing up Sunday (Mother’s Day) for his wife’s first celebration, but that certainly didn’t lead his focus astray. He did the opposite of screwing up on Saturday when he garnered just his second top-five of the season.
10th, 315 points

10. Jeff Gordon            

Outlook: We all figured that Gordon was primed for a big performance in his 700th straight start, and, boy, did he deliver. The veteran driver led for 16 laps and picked up his best finish of the season at one of his best tracks.
12th, 311 points

11. Greg Biffle               

Outlook: Early on in the season, Biffle was looking like a solid Chase contender, but now he’s on the outside looking in. Four straight starts without a top-10 will do that to you.
13th, 311 points

12. Aric Almirola           

Outlook: All good things must come to an end -- and that includes Almirola’s series-best streak of four races with a top-10 finish.
9th, 317 points

13. Martin Truex Jr.     

Outlook: Truex certainly has a chance to race his way into Saturday’s Sprint All-Star race, but in the meantime, he’s still hanging around among the top-10 in the Sprint Fan Vote.
14th, 301 points

14. Paul Menard             

Outlook: The days of Menard’s three-consecutive top-10 finishes (Vegas, Bristol, Fontana) seem a distant memory, but hey, he made an appearance in Darlington’s Greatest Hits.
Standings: 11th, 315 points

15. Joey Logano            

Outlook: Logano did his thing with his video blog last week and will look to take some momentum from the Sprint All-Star Race to kick start his season after a few down weeks. He has a series-best 5.5 average finish in the race.
19th, 259 points

16. Denny Hamlin           

Outlook: Good to have you back, Denny. Most of the questions surrounding the full-time return of Hamlin were answered with his second-place finish at Darlington. Now? On to the All-Star race and contending for a Chase spot.
27th, 197 points

17. Kurt Busch             

Outlook: Busch spent part of last week testing Indy cars, much like he spent part of Saturday night dominating the race. And then everything fell apart.
18th, 262 points

18. Jamie McMurray     

Outlook: McMurray is averaging his second-best average finish since 2005, yet he’s still just in 15th place. A lot can happen between now and the cut, but it’s doubtful that a lot will happen for the driver.
15th, 295 points

19. Ryan Newman           

Outlook: Apart from a couple of crashes and an engine failure, Newman has run a decent season thus far (especially compared to his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates). Still, he should focus on winning races instead of this.
17th, 276 points

20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 

Outlook: Stenhouse doesn’t seem to mind the additional spotlight that comes along with dating one of NASCAR’s biggest faces in Danica Patrick, but at some point he’s going to want to be known for his racing. His 18th-place finish at Darlington won’t help him make a name for himself.
16th, 282 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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