CUP: Bristol Power Rankings

Published March 17, 2013

| Speed

POINTS After Food City 500

RESULTS: Food City 500

Brad Keselowski’s 2013 season so far has been stellar: Four races, four top-five finishes for the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.

Based on his third-place finish in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Keselowski holds on to the No. 1 slot this week in the FOXSports.com/SPEED.com Power Rankings.

This week’s list:

1. BRAD KESELOWSKI — With an average finish of 3.5 in four races so far, Keselowski is solid gold. It’s really early in the year still, but he has had top fives at a restrictor-plate track, a 1-mile track, a 1.5-mile track and a half-mile track. Money. Last week: 1.

2. KASEY KAHNE — After two bad races to open the season, Kahne has now finished second at Las Vegas and won at Bristol. He has been fast everywhere he’s raced this year. Kahne looks like a winner week in and week out. Last week: 7.

3. JIMMIE JOHNSON — Although he was one a handful of drivers to melt a bead on a right-front tire, Johnson was competitive all race long and continues to show great speed. Last week: 2.

4. DALE EARNHARDT JR. — Off to the best start of his career, Earnhardt has not finished worse than seventh in any of the first four races this season, although he has only led at one race. Last week: 5.

5. MATT KENSETH — No one had worse luck at Bristol then Kenseth. Just as he was about to take the lead, Jeff Gordon popped a tire in front of him and Kenseth had nowhere to go. Last week: 3.

6. CLINT BOWYER — Although he didn’t have one of the elite cars, Bowyer ran well enough to finish in the top five and move all the way up to fourth in points. Last week: 12.

7. GREG BIFFLE — After struggling early in the race, Biffle battled back to finish 11th, best of the three Roush Fenway Racing Fords. Solid, but unspectacular. Last week: 11.

8. KYLE BUSCH — Does Busch deserve praise for a strong second-place finish or criticism for making a mistake that cost him the race? Both, perhaps. Last week: 9.

9. CARL EDWARDS — A miserable day for Edwards, who was caught in at least one crash and reportedly puked in his car. Ugh. Last week: 4.

10. DENNY HAMLIN — Let’s see … Hamlin dumped Joey Logano, bounced off the walls repeatedly in the last five laps and kept his helmet on when Logano came after him post-race. Last week: 6.

11. PAUL MENARD — Don’t look now, but Menard is ninth in points, following his excellent top-10 finish at Bristol. Last week: 17.

12. JOEY LOGANO — For a time, Logano was charging to the lead, at least until Hamlin dumped him. He still finished 17th. Last week: 18.

13. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. — Believe or not, Stenhouse is now 11th in points, two positions ahead of Matt Kenseth, the man he replaced at Roush Fenway Racing. Last week: 16.

14. KEVIN HARVICK — All in all, not a bad day for Harvick, who finished 14th in the race. Still, at times he had a top-five car. Last week: 14.

15. KURT BUSCH — Sensational fourth-place run for the elder Busch, who gave Furniture Row Racing only its fourth top-five finish in 203 starts. Last week: 8.

16. JAMIE MCMURRAY — It looked as if McMurray might contend for the victory until he lost it in the marbles. Still, he came back to finish an impressive 10th. Last week: Unranked.

17. JEFF GORDON — Another tough outing for Gordon, who lost a right-front tire while leading the race. Last week: 15.

18. MARTIN TRUEX JR. — A 12th-place finish was a step up for Truex, who so far has struggled to match last year’s results. Last week: 19.

19. TONY STEWART — With crew chief Steve Addington ill, Stewart cut a rear tire in the opening 10 laps and limped home 31st. Last week: 10.

20. MARCOS AMBROSE — Kind of a disappointing day for Ambrose, who finished the race 19th. Last week: 20.

PHOTOS:

Race Gallery

Kahne Wins Gallery

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.

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