Jimmie Johnson did something Sunday that he almost never does: Made a mistake that cost him what seemed like a sure victory in the FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway. Instead, Tony Stewart outgunned Juan Pablo Montoya for the victory.
Still, since none of his closest competitors stepped up much, either, Johnson holds on to the top spot in the FOXSports.com/SPEED.com Power Rankings for this week.
This week’s list:
1. JIMMIE JOHNSON — On a late-race restart, Five-Time passed Juan Pablo Montoya before the start-finish line and cost himself the race. Still, he has a big points lead and ran very well, even if he finished 17th. Last week: 1.
2. CLINT BOWYER — Slowly, quietly, Bowyer is moving up in the standings and is now third in points after a sixth-place finish at Dover. Last week: 6.
3. MATT KENSETH — Along with Johnson, Kenseth is still one of the men to beat for the championship. But those pesky Toyota engine failures are problematic. Last week: 2.
4. KEVIN HARVICK — A solid outing for Harvick, who came home eighth after winning two of the four previous races. Last week: 4.
5. CARL EDWARDS — After a 14th-place finish on a weekend when he was totally uncompetitive, it’s obvious Edwards and Roush Fenway Racing are way behind. Last week: 5.
6. KYLE BUSCH — For the second time in three races, Busch led the most laps and didn’t win. That’s becoming a repeating story line. Last week: 10.
7. KASEY KAHNE — For a time, it appeared Kahne might win or certainly finish in the top five at worst. But he crashed and finished 23rd. Last week: 3.
8. KURT BUSCH — A strategic gamble failed to pay off for the elder Busch, but he was still fast and was a respectable 12th at the end. Last week: 9.
9. DALE EARNHARDT JR. — Although he finished 10th, Earnhardt didn’t have one of the cars to beat at Dover. Not by a long shot. Last week: 8.
10. BRAD KESELOWSKI — After a stretch of finishing in the 30s three races out of four, Keselowski rebounded nicely with a top five. Last week: 14.
11. TONY STEWART — A huge victory for Stewart, who is now in the first wild-card spot and suddenly sees hope in what had been a dreadful season. Last week: 20.
12. DENNY HAMLIN — Sunday was the worst of all possible worlds for Hamlin: Bad finish (34th), contact with the wall and a wild-card hopeful (Stewart) wins the race. Last week: 7.
13. JEFF GORDON — For the second time in three races, Gordon finished third. Still not out of Chase contention. Last week: 17.
14. JOEY LOGANO — A good run for Logano, who ended up seventh, assuring both Penske cars were in the top 10. Last week: 12.
15. PAUL MENARD — While it’s true Menard is 10th in points, I doubt that he’s running well enough to stay there. Last week: 13.
16. MARTIN TRUEX JR. — He had a very fast car, but a catastrophic engine failure doomed Truex’s chances. Last week: 11.
17. ARIC ALMIROLA — Like Menard, Almirola’s points position seems to be ahead of the speed in his cars. Last week: 19.
18. GREG BIFFLE — Let’s be blunt here: Roush Fenway Racing’s cars aren’t as fast as those of the other top teams right now. Last week: 18.
19. JUAN PABLO MONTOYA — It was a big day for Montoya, who nearly won his first oval race in NASCAR. Last week: Unranked.
20. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. — Danica is no longer mad at him, and Stenhouse finished better than both his Roush Fenway Racing teammates. 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.