Carl Edwards had a dream afternoon at Phoenix International Raceway, where he won the Subway Fresh Fit 500. Still, it’s Jimmie Johnson who leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup points standings and stays atop the FOXSports.com/SPEED.com Power Rankings.
This week’s list.
1. JIMMIE JOHNSON — After winning the Daytona 500, the five-time champion follows it up with a thrilling second-place run at PIR, passing Denny Hamlin at the checkered flag. Already looking good this year. Last week: 1.
2. BRAD KESELOWSKI — Another strong outing by the defending champion, who finished fourth. Last year was not a fluke, folks. He will be a force all year. Last week: 3.
3. CARL EDWARDS — Cousin Carl snapped a 70-race winless streak, and did it at his sponsor’s race. Big day for the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing team. Correction: Huge day. Last week: 19.
4. DALE EARNHARDT JR. — Getting balked by Casey Mears on pit road and then spinning his tires on the restart may have cost Earnhardt a chance at victory. Last week: 5.
5. DENNY HAMLIN — Considering all the engine angst in the Toyota camp, Hamlin had an impressive run, finishing third behind Edwards and Johnson. Last week: 14.
6. MATT KENSETH — As expected, the 2003 champion rebounded nicely at Phoenix, with an excellent performance all weekend, culminating with a seventh-place finish. Last week: 4.
7. CLINT BOWYER — A solid run for Bowyer, as his sixth-place finish was tops among the three Michael Waltrip Racing Toyotas. Last week: 15.
8. TONY STEWART — Considering both his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates wound up in the wall, eighth place for Stewart wasn’t a bad result. Last week: 8.
9. MARK MARTIN — The ageless one was second in laps led to Edwards, but had to pit late and tailed off to finish 21st. Last week: 9.
10. JEFF GORDON — The four-time champion ran good but not great at PIR, finishing ninth, third among the Hendrick Motorsports cars. Last week: 13.
11. GREG BIFFLE — Third of the three Roush Fenway Racing Fords, Biffle struggled to a 17th-place finish. Last week: 10.
12. KEVIN HARVICK — Phoenix is usually one of Harvick’s best tracks, so he had to be disappointed with his 13th-place finish, definitely worse than he’d hoped for. Last week: 6.
13. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. — Sixteenth wasn’t great, but it was enough to move Stenhouse into the top 10 in points. Last week: Unranked.
14. AJ ALLMENDINGER — To finish 11th in his first race of 2013 with the small Phoenix Racing team was a huge accomplishment for The ‘Dinger. Last week: Unranked.
15. KASEY KAHNE — For the second year in a row, Kahne’s season is off to a bad start. He qualified second but finished 19th at PIR and is now 31st in points. Last week: 12.
16. KYLE BUSCH — An engine failure in pre-race warm-up and a spin in the race cost Busch dearly. He came home 23rd, not the start to the year he was looking for. Last week: 11.
17. RYAN NEWMAN — Brutal day for Newman, who suffered through a pair of right-front tire failures that put him out of the race. Last week: 7.
18. DANICA PATRICK — After all the good vibes at Daytona, Patrick was slow all weekend and blew a right-front tire and finished 39th. Tough day. Last week: 2.
19. JEFF BURTON — Another driver who had a disappointing Speedweeks but a better run at Phoenix. Burton finished 10th on Sunday. Last week: Unranked.
20. MARTIN TRUEX JR. — It was another bad day for Truex, who has had rotten luck to start the season. This time, it was a broken driveshaft yoke. Last week: 18.
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.