Denny Hamlin dominated the late going to win Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, which also moved him to the top of this week’s FOXSports.com/SPEED.com Power Rankings.
This week’s list:
1. DENNY HAMLIN — Clearly, the addition of crew chief Darian Grubb has brought fresh energy and ideas to Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin is going to be hard to beat this year. Last week: 3rd.
2. MATT KENSETH — A 13th-place finish in the desert was nothing to get excited about for Kenseth, but he ought to rebound nicely next week in Las Vegas. Last week: 1st.
3. KEVIN HARVICK — Like Hamlin, Harvick has gotten a big shot in the arm from his new crew chief, in this case Shane Wilson. Great second-place finish for Harvick at Phoenix. Last week: 6th.
4. GREG BIFFLE — Biffle, traditionally a slow starter, opened the 2012 season with consecutive third-place finishes, which bodes well for his chances of a good season. Last week: 5th.
5. JIMMIE JOHNSON — Yes, Johnson his 38th in points after the Daytona wreck and the NASCAR points penalty. But he showed why he’s so good on Sunday, driving from 25th to a fourth-place finish. Last week: 20th.
6. DALE EARNHARDT JR. — By passing two cars on the last lap, Junior moved up to 14th, his best position of the day. He really wasn’t very good in Phoenix. Last week: 2nd.
7. MARTIN TRUEX JR. — Michael Waltrip Racing continues to show improvement, with Truex now sixth in points after a seventh-place run at Phoenix. Last week: 11th.
8. KYLE BUSCH — A sixth-place finish at Phoenix put Busch squarely between teammates Hamlin (first) and Logano (10th). Last week: 15th.
9. JOEY LOGANO — Logano narrowly edges out Mark Martin, because he’s running a full schedule and Martin isn’t, which means he’ll fall out of here soon. Last week: 8th.
10. MARK MARTIN — The ageless won claimed the pole in Phoenix, but EFI issues held him back to a 10th-place finish. Last week: 10th.
11. BRAD KESELOWSKI — With Penske announcing a switch to Ford for next year, Keselowski didn’t miss a beat, finishing fifth at Phoenix. Last week: Unranked.
12. CARL EDWARDS — Two races into the 2012 season and Edwards doesn’t look like one of the pre-season championship favorites. In fact, he’s third in points on his team. Last week: 9th.
13. JEFF BURTON — Tough luck for Burton, who blew an engine late, robbing him of a good finish. Last week: 4th.
14. BOBBY LABONTE — I don’t think Labonte’s name has been mentioned in the first two weeks of the season, but he’s 11th in points. Last week: Unranked.
15. TONY STEWART — Whoops. Stewart shut his engine off under caution to save gas and lost two laps before it re-fired. That left him 22nd at Phoenix. Last week: 14th.
16. JEFF GORDON — Big Daddy had only an OK day at Phoenix, where he finished ninth. But OK is a big improvement over the Daytona debacle. Last week: 19th.
17. DAVE BLANEY — When the season began, Tommy Baldwin was going to start-and-park Blaney. Instead, he’s 16th in points after two races. Last week: Unranked.
18. PAUL MENARD — It was a tough day for Menard who got caught up in a wreck with A.J. Allmendinger and finished 31st. Last week: 7th.
19. CLINT BOWYER — Two blown right-front tires made for a brutal race for Bowyer, who ended the afternoon 30th. Last week: 12th.
20. RYAN NEWMAN — The SHR driver got put into the wall by Carl Edwards, but still managed to finish 21st. Last week: Unranked.
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100.