CUP: Kansas Power Rankings

Published April 21, 2013

| Speed

With a strong third-place finish in the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway, Jimmie Johnson moves back into the No. 1 spot in the FOXSports.com/SPEED.com Power Rankings with eight races down on the season.

This week’s list:

1. JIMMIE JOHNSON — The 48 team was junk on Friday but Johnson rallied to finish third behind Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne on Sunday. Still the championship favorites. Last week: 2.

2. MATT KENSETH — Qualify on the pole? Check. Lead the most laps? Check. Win the race? Check. Yeah, Kenseth and the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team opened up a big ole’ can of whupass in Kansas this weekend. Last week: 9.

3. KASEY KAHNE — Since he stumbled in the first two races, Kahne has continued to improve and become more dangerous, as his second-place finish at Kansas showed. He was the best of the Hendrick cars all weekend long. Last week: 6.

4. KYLE BUSCH — It seemed as if the younger Busch would finally have a good race at Kansas this week. He didn’t, crashing twice and finishing 38th in a hugely disappointing afternoon. Last week: 1.

5. BRAD KESELOWSKI — Despite encountering every plague short of locusts, frogs and boils, Keselowski managed to finish sixth, best of the Fords. He and his Penske team remain strong threats to again win the big prize at the end of the year. Last week: 4.

6. GREG BIFFLE — It was a bad day for Biffle, a two-time Kansas winner, as he finished 19th. Biffle is fast in practice, slow in the races, which is baffling. Last week: 5.

7. DALE EARNHARDT JR. — An up-and-down day for Junior ended mostly down, as he finished 16th, worst of the four Hendrick cars, thanks to a poorly timed caution flag. Last week: 7.

8. CLINT BOWYER — Although he didn’t make much noise, Bowyer finished fifth, a good run for the Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. Last week: 8.

9. CARL EDWARDS — For most of the race, Edwards ran near the front or not far from it, but he slid to 17th after getting bitten by how the cautions fell. Last week: 3.

10. PAUL MENARD — Tenth in the race, 10th in the Sprint Cup points standings for Menard. Solid effort. Last week: 12.

11. JAMIE MCMURRAY — Don’t look now, but McMurray is having a pretty impressive season, as his seventh-place finish showed. Last week: 15.

12. ARIC ALMIROLA — The No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team is getting better, too, with Almirola finishing eighth at Kansas. Last week: 13.

13. KEVIN HARVICK — In eight races this year, Harvick has finished 12th once, 13th four times and 14th once. Weird. Last week: 11.

14. MARTIN TRUEX JR. — Great run for Truex, who earned his second consecutive top-five with a fourth-place finish. Last week: 17.

15. JEFF GORDON — In the end, Gordon finished 13th. He was horrible on Friday and Saturday, though. Last week: 14.

16. RYAN NEWMAN. — In a down year for the team, Newman once again posted the best finish (14th) of any of the three Stewart-Haas cars. Last week: 18.

17. KURT BUSCH — All in all, a decent day for Busch, who finished 15th in his Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet. Last week: 16.

18. MARK MARTIN — Another top-10 finish for the ageless veteran, who came home ninth in an MWR Toyota. Last week: Unranked.

19. TONY STEWART — Really, still not a very good day for Stewart, who was 21st and is off to the worst start of his career. Last week: 19.

20. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. — Don’t look now, but Stenhouse just posted the best finish of his season, with an 11th place at Kansas. Last week: Unranked.

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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http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2013/04/21/cup-kansas-power-rankings/