For the first time all season, five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson moves to the top spot in FOXSports.com/SPEED.com Power Rankings thanks to a convincing victory in the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
This week’s list:
1. JIMMIE JOHNSON — Five-Time has been knocking on the door all year long. Saturday night at Darlington, he kicked it in, giving team owner Rick Hendrick his 200th career Sprint Cup race victory. Last week: 8th
2. GREG BIFFLE — The wildly unhappy Biffle sounded like Kurt Busch on the radio after getting a couple of bad sets of tires en route to a 12th-place finish. Last week: 1st.
3. DENNY HAMLIN — A strong run in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Toyota landed Hamlin second behind Johnson. His Cale Yarborough tribute paint scheme was bitchin’, too. Last week: 6th.
4. MATT KENSETH — Sixth place was best-in-class among the three Roush Fenway Racing Fords. Kenseth didn’t have a winning car, but was pretty good. Last week: 3th.
5. DALE EARNHARDT JR. — Darlington was the first track all season where Earnhardt said his car ran worse than it did in the same race last year. Last week: 2nd.
6. KYLE BUSCH — Good but not quite good enough, Busch finished fourth, a more-than-respectable result. Last week: 4th.
7. TONY STEWART — Although he failed to lead a lap, finishing third was nothing to apologize for. Still, we missed having another post-race tirade. Last week: 7th.
8. MARTIN TRUEX JR. — On a night when track strategy was everything, Truex lost the race when he pitted late while other leaders stayed out. Last week: 10th.
9. BRAD KESELOWSKI — One of many drivers to earn his Darlington stripe, Keselowski came back from two laps down to finish 15th. Last week: 5th.
10. CARL EDWARDS — Another top-10 finish for Edwards, but still no victories for more than one full year. Last week: 12th.
11. KEVIN HARVICK — Expected to be one of the contenders to win, Harvick was strangely absent from the front of the field, finishing 16th. Last week: 9th.
12. CLINT BOWYER — Another good finish for the Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, as Bowyer came home 11th at Darlington. Last week: 11th.
13. KASEY KAHNE — Although frustrated with his pit stops and erratic adjustments, Kahne bagged his fifth consecutive top 10. He’s coming to the front. Last week: 15th.
14. PAUL MENARD — Here’s the new math: 13th at Darlington and 13th in points equals 14th in the Power Rankings. Last week: 16th.
15. RYAN NEWMAN — The post-race altercation between Newman’s crew and Kurt Busch’s was one of the more interesting moments of the night. Last week: 13th.
16. JOEY LOGANO — A 10th-place run at The Track Too Tough To Tame moves JoLo up one spot this week. Last week: 17th.
17. JAMIE McMURRAY — Oops. After several weeks of progress, McMurray slides back with a 34th-place finish. Last week: 14th.
18. MARCOS AMBROSE — A great ninth-place run for the affable Aussie. Last week: 18th.
19. JEFF BURTON — The veteran Virginia racer continues to struggle, finishing 18th at Darlington. Last week: 19th.
20. MARK MARTIN — In just eight starts, Martin has earned more points than 10 drivers who have made all 11 starts. Last week: 20th.
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.