CUP: Michigan Power Rankings

Denny Hamlin won the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night, with Jimmie Johnson’s runner-up finish moving him to the top of the Power Rankings.

The new list:

1. JIMMIE JOHNSON — Considering he started 37th and the nose of his No. 48 Hendrick Chevrolet got bashed in early, to finish second is pretty racy. Last week: 4th.

2. DALE EARNHARDT JR. — A 12th-place finish wasn’t bad for Earnhardt, but not that great, either. Still, it’s a career year for Junior so far. Last week: 2nd.

3. GREG BIFFLE — Although he was wicked fast in practice and qualifying, Biffle wasn’t good in the race, finishing 19th. He did hold onto the points lead. Last week: 3rd.

4. BRAD KESELOWSKI — After winning the previous two Bristol races, Keselowski got put into the wall and finished 30th. A disappointing weekend, for sure. Last week: 1st.

5. DENNY HAMLIN — A huge and surprising victory for Hamlin, who desperately needed it after slumping most of the summer. Last week: 12th.

6. MARTIN TRUEX JR. — Both Michael Waltrip Racing Toyotas continue to run well, with Truex coming home 11th. Last week: 6th.

7. CLINT BOWYER — A strong night for Bowyer as well, with a seventh-place run. Last week: 7th.

8. MATT KENSETH — Tight racing with Tony Stewart ended with both he and Stewart crashing. Old Bristol is back. Last week: 5th.

9. KASEY KAHNE — Ninth place for Kahne means he actually could crack the top 10 in points in the next two weeks. Last week: 9th.

10. TONY STEWART — Although Stewart finished 27th, he did win the helmet toss award. Last week: 8th.

11. KEVIN HARVICK — A new crew chief wasn’t the answer this week for Harvick, as he finished 15th. Last week: 11th.

12. KYLE BUSCH — By Busch’s standards, sixth at Bristol isn’t good. But it was enough to move him back into the second wild-card spot. Last week: 13th.

13. JEFF GORDON — He still probably needs to win again to make the Chase, but Gordon had a great third-place finish. Last week: 17th.

14. RYAN NEWMAN — The big loser in Bristol was Newman, who got wrecked by Juan Pablo Montoya and finished 36th. Last week: 10th.

15. MARCOS AMBROSE — A third consecutive top five for the suddenly red-hot Aussie. Last week: 15th.

16. JOEY LOGANO — He led a race-high 139 laps, but Logano slumped to finish eighth. Last week: 20th.

17. CARL EDWARDS — Slip sliding away, slip sliding away, Edwards Chase hopes are about done. Last week: 14th.

18. BRIAN VICKERS — In just six starts this season, Vickers has three top-fives, including two at Bristol. Last week: Unranked.

19. PAUL MENARD — A top-10 for Menard, but pending NASCAR penalties have doomed his season. Last week: 16th.

20. JAMIE McMURRAY — A very average run for McMurray, who finished 17th. Last week: 18th.

Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for You can follow him online at