CUP: Daytona 500 Power Rankings

A wild night at Daytona, as Juan Pablo Montoya hits the jet dryer on track and Matt Kenseth wins his second Daytona 500.

Here are this week’s Power Rankings.

This week’s list:

1. MATT KENSETH — To the victor goes the spoils. Congrats to Matt Kenseth on a dominating victory in the Daytona 500, his second in the last four years. Last week: 8th.

2. DALE EARNHARDT JR. — NASCAR’s most popular driver made another strong run, earning his second runner-up finish in the last three Daytona 500s. Last week: 10th.

3. DENNY HAMLIN — Not only was Hamlin best in class among the Toyotas, he was light years ahead of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. Last week: 11th.

4. JEFF BURTON — An impressive run for Burton, who finished fifth with a Richard Childress Racing Ford that clearly wasn’t as fast as the Roush Racing Fords. Last week: 15th.

5. GREG BIFFLE — Yes, Biffle finished third behind Kenseth and Earnhardt, but he didn’t do an especially good job on the green-white-restart, losing a spot to Earnhardt. Last week: 12th.

6. KEVIN HARVICK — Truthfully, it’s a little surprising that Harvick, a great restrictor-plate racer, didn’t make more noise than what he did during Daytona Speedweeks. Last week: 1st.

7. PAUL MENARD — It wasn’t exactly Menardi Gras, but it was a strong effort for Menard, whose sixth-place finish meant all three RCR Chevrolets finished in the top seven. Last week: 19th.

8. JOEY LOGANO — Although he looked a little nervous in traffic at times, Logano finished ninth, which made for a good evening. Last week: 20th.

9. CARL EDWARDS — Considering he started on the pole and considering two of his teammates finished first and third, eighth place was a bit of a letdown for Edwards. Last week: 4th.

10. MARK MARTIN — Mark Martin hates racing at Daytona, but in his first race with Michael Waltrip Racing, he finished 10th, which was slightly better than his two teammates. Last week: Unranked.

11. MARTIN TRUEX JR. — The New Jersey native finished 12th, but he moves up one spot here for winning the $200,000 halfway leader bonus.

12. CLINT BOWYER — Finished 11th, which was right between teammates Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr. Last week: 18th.

13. MARCOS AMBROSE — Another one of the fast Fords, the affable Aussie had a good run to end the long night with a top-15 finish. Last week: 13th.

14. TONY STEWART — Frankly a somewhat disappointing run for the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, who finished 16th, but was never much of a factor. Last week: 6th.

15. KYLE BUSCH — Like Stewart, Busch should have been a factor in the race, but never really was. Last week: 5th.

16. KASEY KAHNE — Not a good Speedweeks for Kahne, who finished 29th and really didn’t show much over the two weeks. Last week: 2nd.

17. JUAN PABLO MONTOYA — It wasn’t Montoya’s fault — something broke on his car — But he hit the dang jet dryer on track and caused a huge fire. Last week: 17th.

18. AJ ALLMENDINGER — A disappointing first race for the ‘Dinger at Team Penske, as he had contact on pit road with Ryan Newman. Last week: 14th.

19. JEFF GORDON — Original four-time didn’t even make it to halfway before his engine expired. Bad Speedweeks for Hendrick Motorsports. Last week: 9th.

20. JIMMIE JOHNSON — Forty-second place and a points penalty? Horrible start to the season for Johnson. Last week: 3rd.

Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for You can follow him online at