CUP: Talladega Power Rankings

With his seventh-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway, Brad Keselowski maintains the lead in the Power Rankings.

The new list, following Sunday’s Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500.

1. BRAD KESELOWSKI — In a race that could have profound championship implications, Keselowski finished ahead of his two closest title rivals, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin, which is huge. Last week: 1st.

2. JEFF GORDON — In the last seven races, Gordon has finished second four times and third twice. Running better than anyone now. Last week: 5th.

3. JIMMIE JOHNSON — The bad news? Johnson got wrecked again at a restrictor-plate track. The good news? He’s still within striking distance of Keselowski. Last week: 2nd.

4. DENNY HAMLIN — Slip, sliding away … slip, sliding away. That’s what Hamlin’s championship hopes might be doing right now. Last week: 3rd.

5. CLINT BOWYER — After winning the last two fall races at Talladega, finishing 23rd was a bitter blow for Bowyer, who could be out of title contention already. Last week: 4th.

6. KASEY KAHNE — At 36 points back of Keselowski, Kahne is likely the last guy still legitimately in contention for a title besides the top three in points. Last week: 8th.

7. TONY STEWART — So close, but so far away. Stewart was first in Turn 1 on the final lap, but finished 22nd after contact with Michael Waltrip. Last week: 7th.

8. MATT KENSETH — The 2003 champ has been unbelievable at plate tracks this year, with two victories and two third-place finishes. Last week: 13th.

9. KYLE BUSCH — A good third-place run for Busch, who has endured a bizarre season so far. Last week: 9th.

10. DALE EARNHARDT JR. — Unfortunately for Earnhardt, any reasonable expectation of a title run this season ended on Sunday. Last week: 6th.

11. GREG BIFFLE — Although not quite as good as Kenseth, Biffle’s sixth-place finish capped a solid season on plate tracks. Last week: 12th.

12. KEVIN HARVICK — For a long while on Sunday, Harvick looked like the Harvick of old before finishing 11th. Last week: 11th.

13. MARTIN TRUEX JR. — It’s been a great year for Truex, but truth is, he’s been invisible in the Chase. Last week: 10th.

14. RYAN NEWMAN — Things are looking up for Newman, who finished ninth and earlier in the week got more sponsorship for next year. Last week: 14th.

15. JOEY LOGANO — Collateral damage in an early race crash, Logano limped home to a 32nd-place finish. Last week: 15th.

16. JAMIE MCMURRAY — The 2010 Daytona 500 winner drove like a demon until he got wrecked by Harvick. Last week: Unranked.

17. PAUL MENARD — Like a lot of guys, Menard’s day did not end well, not by a long shot. Last week: 18th.

18. CARL EDWARDS — Not a good day, either, for Edwards, who was wrecked early. Last week: 17th.

19. TREVOR BAYNE — For a time, Bayne looked like the guy who won the 2011 Daytona 500. Last week: 20th.

20. MARCOS AMBROSE — Meh. Finishing 27th wasn’t what Ambrose wanted. Last week: 19th.

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