CUP: Sprint Unlimited Power Rankings

One race is in the books on the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, with Kevin Harvick winning his third Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night.

So here’s our first post-race 2013 edition of the Power Rankings.

1. TONY STEWART — No, Smoke didn’t win the Sprint Unlimited or take the Daytona 500 pole, but he’s been fast all week and so have Danica Patrick and Ryan Newman, both of whom drive for him. All three SHR cars were in the top five in qualifying.

2. DANICA PATRICK — Yes, she still needs to back up her Daytona 500 pole with a great finish in the race, but Patrick’s pole run made history. No other woman had ever qualified higher than ninth in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race (Janet Guthrie, twice in 1977). Congrats on a great achievement.

3. MATT KENSETH — The two-time and defending winner of the Daytona 500 has looked good all weekend. A third 500 victory would surprise no one.

4. KEVIN HARVICK — Lame duck? Harvick sure didn’t seem like one Saturday night, when he kicked everyone’s butts to win his third Sprint Unlimited.

5. JEFF GORDON — Gordon looked very strong in Daytona 500 qualifying, as he was clearly the class of the Hendrick Chevrolets.

6. BRAD KESELOWSKI — So far, the reigning champion has had a very low profile in Speedweeks and has not stood out on the track.

7. JIMMIE JOHNSON — Once again, Johnson got crashed out of a Daytona race, something that’s happened with frightening regularity lately.

8. KASEY KAHNE — Like Johnson, Kahne ran the Daytona Beach Half Marathon Sunday morning in less than 2 hours. Like Johnson, he was slow in qualifying.

9. KYLE BUSCH — Hard to tell how good Busch has looked because he got wrecked early on in the Sprint Unlimited. So did his brother.

10. DENNY HAMLIN — Just like Busch, Hamlin got knocked out in the first few laps of the Sprint Unlimited.

11. GREG BIFFLE — In the Sprint Unlimited, Biffle ran near the front but just didn’t have the oomph to get out front at the end of the race.

12. JOEY LOGANO — In his first race driving for Roger Penske, Logano ran very well, finishing third behind Harvick and Biffle.

13. RYAN NEWMAN — Likely a lame duck at Stewart-Haas, Newman nonetheless was impressive in Daytona 500 qualifying.

14. DALE EARNHARDT JR. — Junior bounced off a couple of people in the Sprint Unlimited, should be good in the Daytona 500.

15. CLINT BOWYER — The MWR Toyotas haven’t looked super racy so far at Speedweeks, but it’s early.

16. CARL EDWARDS — Still needs to prove he’s out of the funk. Hasn’t yet, but has plenty of time.

17. MARTIN TRUEX JR. — Ran a very similar speed to Bowyer in qualifying.

18. ARIC ALMIROLA — Of the underdogs in the Daytona 500 field, Almirola is someone to look out for. He could do something big on Sunday.

19. KURT BUSCH — A tough two days for Busch, who did nothing wrong and got wrecked Friday and Saturday.

20. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. — The first driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup history to ever lose a pool to his girlfriend.

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