Our Long National Nightmare is officially over: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won a NASCAR Sprint Cup points race after a 4-year drought.
And Earnhardt’s dominating victory in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway moved him to the top of the FOXSports.com/SPEED.com Power Rankings
This week’s list:
1. DALE EARNHARDT JR. — On Father’s Day, Junior administered an old-school ass-whuppin’ his Daddy would have been plenty proud of. Congrats, Junior Nation. Last week: 3rd.
2. MATT KENSETH — Another strong run for Matty Ice, who is looking like the guy who top-fived the field into submission en route to a championship in 2003. Last week: 2nd.
3. JIMMIE JOHNSON — Fighting a wonky handling car, Johnson battled his way to his fourth top-five finish in five races. Still a very dangerous man. Last week: 1st.
4. GREG BIFFLE — The fastest man early in the weekend, the Biff and his crew had a tough time coming to grips with the substitute tires mandated by NASCAR. Last week: 5th.
5. TONY STEWART — Runner-up Stewart finished in the top three for the third time in five races as he appears poised for another summer hot streak. Last week: 6th.
6. DENNY HAMLIN — Remember that 60s British band, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown? “I am the god of hell fire and I bring you FIRE!” Last week: 4th.
7. KEVIN HARVICK — Still just a small step behind the fastest cars, Harvick finished 10th in his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Last week: 7th.
8. CLINT BOWYER — Best in class among the Toyotas (7th), Bowyer was furious with his crew for a fuel-only final pit stop. Last week: 10th.
9. MARTIN TRUEX JR. — A 12th-place run for Truex, who finished outside the top 10 for the third time in the last four races. Last week: 8th.
10. BRAD KESELOWSKI — Bog slow for most of the weekend, 13th had to be a disappointment for Keselowski at his home track. Last week: 9th.
11. CARL EDWARDS — Once again, the bottom finisher among the three Roush Fenway Racing Fords, Edwards did OK to end the day in 11th. Last week: 14th.
12. RYAN NEWMAN — Very fast early on, Newman finished 15th after looking like he’d do much better. Last week: 12th.
13. KYLE BUSCH — Engine failures three weeks in a row? Seriously? Isn’t this why Joe Gibbs Racing changed engine builders in the first place? Last week: 11th.
14. JOEY LOGANO — A hard crash was a brutal reminder to Logano that you’re only as good — or bad — as your last race. Last week: 13th.
15. PAUL MENARD — Finishing 22nd shouldn’t move you up, but a lot of those around Menard had worse problems than he did. Last week: 16th.
16. KASEY KAHNE — Ouch. A 33rd-place finish was the sixth time Kahne has finished 29th or worse in 15 races. Last week: 15th.
17. MARCOS AMBROSE — The Aussie set an all-time NASCAR qualifying speed record at a non-restrictor-plate track and finished in the top 10. Last week: Unranked.
18. JAMIE MCMURRAY — Slowly, McMurray and EGR are starting to get headed in the right direction. Last week: Unranked.
19. JUAN PABLO MONTOYA — The Colombian finished a solid ninth. Last week: Unranked.
20. JEFF GORDON — A sixth-place finish was Gordon’s best since Texas. Last week: 15th.
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.