Published April 08, 2013
After crushing the field at Martinsville Speedway, Jimmie Johnson moves back into a familiar place: The No. 1 spot in the FOXSports.com/SPEED.com Power Rankings.
This week’s list:
1. JIMMIE JOHNSON — Rarely does anyone put on the kind of old-fashioned butt-kicking that Johnson administered at Martinsville on Sunday. Then again, only two drivers in NASCAR history have more championships than Johnson. Last week: 5.
2. KASEY KAHNE — After a brief stumble at the start of the season, Kahne has one victory and three top-four finishes in his last four races. With a fourth-place finish at Martinsville, he’s red-hot right now. Last week: 4.
3. KYLE BUSCH — Martinsville isn’t one of Kyle Busch’s better tracks, but he posted a fifth-place finish and led 56 laps. Busch is on track for a breakout season this year. Last week: 3.
4. BRAD KESELOWSKI — One of only two drivers with five top 10s in the first six races, the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion was seventh at Martinsville. Last week: 2.
5. DALE EARNHARDT JR. — For the first time all year, Junior failed to finish in the top 10. Or the top 20, for that matter. That said, he’s still off to a great start on the season. Last week: 1.
6. CLINT BOWYER — A great rebound for Bowyer, after losing an engine in California two weeks ago. Despite getting caught in a wreck, Bowyer recovered to finish second at Martinsville. Last week: 13.
7. GREG BIFFLE — Martinsville is not a place where Biffle usually runs well, but he finished in the top 10 on Sunday. Last week: 7.
8. CARL EDWARDS — Like his Roush Fenway Racing teammates, Edwards usually struggles at Martinsville. This week was no exception, as he finished 15th. Last week: 6.
9. MATT KENSETH — Although he led more laps than anyone not named Johnson, Kenseth had to settle for a 14th-place finish, not what he hoped for. Last week: 8.
10. PAUL MENARD — Certainly, Menard was looking for something better than a 19th-place finish, but he’s still in the top 10 in points. Last week: 9.
11. JEFF GORDON — Third place was the best finish of the year so far for the four-time Sprint Cup champion. Last week: 18.
12. JAMIE MCMURRAY — A nice seventh-place result for McMurray, who is quietly moving up in the points. Last week: 17.
13. JOEY LOGANO — No controversy for Logano this week, but no good finish, either, as he was 23rd. Last week: 11.
14. KEVIN HARVICK — Six races into his final season with Richard Childress Racing and Harvick has just one top 10 to his credit. Last week: 15.
15. KURT BUSCH — A horrible day for the elder Busch after his car went up in flames. Still, he’s been strong this year. Last week: 12.
16. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. — For the second race in a row, Stenhouse failed to finish in the top 20. Last week: 14.
17. TONY STEWART — The tough season for the three-time champ continued on Sunday, as Stewart finished 17th. Last week: 16.
18. ARIC ALMIROLA — A 20th-place run wasn’t too bad for Almirola and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford. Last week: 20.
19. DENNY HAMLIN — Obviously, Hamlin didn’t race on Sunday. Lots of folks think he can still make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Last week: 10.
20. DANICA PATRICK — An impressive run for Patrick, who came from two laps down to finish 12th. Last week: 10.
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.