Power Rankings: Johnson takes top spot
April 09, 2013, Kristen Boghosian, NASCAR.com
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Outlook: We reported earlier this week that the Martinsville race was Johnson's to lose, and he heard us. Johnson led for 346 of the 500 laps on the short track and won the race, giving him first place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings and our power rankings. With any luck and a lot of fantasy dollars, his car will be just as strong next week.
Standings: 1st, 231 points
Outlook: Keselowski wasn't exactly pleased with his sixth-place finish at Martinsville, noting that he was stuck with sixth last year at the track. Unfortunately for the reigning Sprint Cup champ, he is stuck in second in our power rankings again, too.
Standings: 2nd, 225 points
Outlook: Martinsville wasn't too kind to Junior this week. He falls two spots after battling an ill-handling car that just wouldn't get any better. Adding to his troubles, a nudge from Danica Patrick sent him spinning, and his teammate Jimmie Johnson chose not to wait for Earnhardt to right himself, putting Junior a lap down -- and taking his spot atop our power rankings.
Standings: 3rd, 219 points
4. Clint Bowyer
Outlook: Bowyer is this week's biggest rankings winner, even though he couldn't take that clock away from Jimmie Johnson. Bowyer's second-place finish is his best this season and moves him back into our top five.
Standings: 8th, 179 points
5. Kyle Busch
Outlook: Kyle Busch didn't get a win this weekend, but he's still in the top five -- in our rankings, in the standings and in his Martinsville finish. He was also one of only five drivers to lead at least one lap at the Martinsville race. Take that, Five-Time.
Standings: 4th, 203 points
6. Kasey Kahne
Outlook: Kahne has certainly come back from his 36th-place finish at Daytona to start the season. He nabbed his third top-five of the year this week, earning himself the fifth spot in the Sprint Cup standings.
Standings: 5th, 199 points
7. Matt Kenseth
Outlook: Kenseth can't seem to keep himself moving in the right rankings direction. He's back down to his low point after finishing a respectable but unextraordinary 14th at Martinsville this weekend.
Standings: 10th, 172 points
8. Jeff Gordon
Outlook: Jeff Gordon knows how to race at Martinsville with seven wins there during his career. Unfortunately for Gordon, that's one win less than Johnson, who got his eighth this past weekend as Gordon took third.
Standings: 12th, 164 points
9. Greg Biffle
Outlook: Biffle rallied from a 22nd-place start to finish in the top 10 at Martinsville. But his comeback wasn't enough to hold off Kasey Kahne, who took his fifth-place spot in the standings.
Standings: 6th, 199 points
10. Tony Stewart
Outlook: Despite his not-so-strong 17th-place finish at Martinsville (his mentee, rookie Danica Patrick, finished five spots ahead of him), Stewart was able to hold on to his 22nd-place spot in the standings. His average running position at Texas, 10th, is the second-best among current drivers.
Standings: 22nd, 135 points
11. Carl Edwards
Outlook: Edwards has never had a strong record at Martinsville, and this year, the track got the better of him again. Despite a ninth-place starting position, Edwards finished 15th. His track record at Texas is a bit better, with three wins, five top-fives and seven top-10s.
Standings: 7th, 193 points
12. Joey Logano
Outlook: Danica Patrick wasn't shocked to hear that Joey Logano was throwing some bumpers on the track at Martinsville, but there were no post-race punches directed his way this week. Apparently the lack of distractions didn't help Logano -- he qualified fourth and finished 23rd.
Standings: 11th, 167 points
13. Kevin Harvick
Outlook: Harvick really wanted that 11th-place finish Brian Vickers earned at Martinsville. After battling Vickers and Patrick across the finish, Harvick sent Vickers spinning. Luckily for Harvick, we didn't take any spots away from him.
Standings: 14th, 161 points
14. Martin Truex Jr.
Outlook: He may not have finished the race on Sunday, but, hey, it wasn't his fault. Truex Jr. 's 40th-place finish certainly didn't help him bounce back from Auto Club, but we won't hold it against him. What happens at Martinsville ...
Standings: 25th, 126 points
15. Paul Menard
Outlook: Menard has run 13 races at Texas, but so far has only finished twice in the top 10. He's also not finished the race twice, so he'll have to fight to hold on to his top-10 standings position.
Standings: 9th, 179 points
Outlook: Stenhouse saw his first finish of the season outside the top 20 this weekend, but his two top-10 finishes at Texas last year in the NASCAR Nationwide Series bode well for him this weekend.
Standings: 15th, 158 points
17. Jamie McMurray
Outlook: With the exception of the Fontana race, McMurray has been steadily improving since the start of the season. If he continues the trend and betters his finish of seventh at Martinsville, he may also see his best week yet in our rankings.
Standings: 13th, 162 points
18. Marcos Ambrose
Outlook: Ambrose may have finished in the top 10 at Martinsville, but if history is any indicator, he'll struggle to repeat his position this week. Out of his nine starts at the Fort Worth track, he's placed in the top 10 once and not finished the race twice.
Standings: 20th, 144 points
19. Ryan Newman
Outlook: With the exception of this past week, when Newman's car runs well, he runs well. If he can get a good ride this week, he may be able to ride back into the top 20 in the standings, too.
Standings: 23rd, 134 points
20. Jeff Burton
Outlook: Burton won his debut Fort Worth race in a Sprint Cup car, and he's taken eight other top-10s (including a win) since. With the last one in July 2011, he seems due for another.
Standings: 24th, 131 points
In the rearview
Note: These rankings have been determined by a poll that included writers Kenny Bruce, Holly 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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