Our Power Rankings are far from a scientific formula. In fact, it's the perfect blend of analytics and bias against your favorite driver. And you think we dislike your favorite driver, so it makes sense, right? Direct all your complaints to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Carl Edwards (LW: 7): A new leader making a six-spot jump from the previous week? Why not? Edwards is certainly trending upwards. After finishing 17th at Daytona (and being caught up in that final lap crash), he's finished eighth, fifth and first. It was a gutsy pit call by crew chief Jimmy Fennig to keep Edwards out on track over the final laps of the race. But it's one that worked because enough cars behind him took zero and two tires as well.
2. Brad Keselowski (LW: 2): Kes gets to keep second place thanks to the awesomeness of driving around Bristol without a hood after crashing into Jamie McMurray. It was an accident that resembled the one involving Timmy Hill and Matt Kenseth earlier in the day, but we're pretty sure Keselowski was sliding on oil and not just failing to hit the brakes soon enough. He still finished 14th too.
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 1): After a strong first portion of the race, Junior's car faded near the end all the way back to 24th. Is this the sign of Junior's impending demise? Uh, no. No one, not even Jimmie Johnson, would have maintained the run that Junior started in the first three races. Besides, there was speed in the No. 88, it just disappeared. Better to have it and lose it than not have it at all, right?
4. Jeff Gordon (LW: 4): Through four races, this year really isn't much different than any other Jeff Gordon year since 2008. He's been consistently fast, though not super fast, and is reeling off very good finishes to maintain a solid points position. Gordon hasn't finished outside the top 10 all year and with California and Martinsville coming up, that could stretch on for a while.
5. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 3): After he went three laps down because of an unraveled tire before the 200-minute rain delay, it was easy to write off Jimmie Johnson's optimism for fighting back for a good finish as just positive talk for the camera. Well, he got one of those laps back and was pretty close to getting two of them back. Since points clearly don't matter in the Sprint Cup Series, we can't figure out why the No. 48 team didn't pack up and head home knowing their chances for the win were shot. Hopefully that one lap was worth all the trouble.
6. Joey Logano (LW: 6): Go take some tips from Edwards, Joey. No, not about having to drive Bristol but about how to get a bigger upper body. After Logano lost his power steering in the first quarter of the race, he was set up for a lengthy struggle. This is where being able to turn into "The Hulk" would have come in handy. Instead, his team fixed the problem and he he was able to salvage a top-20.
7. Kevin Harvick (LW: 5): Catastrophe is going to lead to Cupcake's Power Rankings demise at this rate. After losing a left-front hub with a good car at Vegas, an oil line apparently became dislodged at Bristol and Harvick slammed into the wall. And then his car caught on fire. With what's gone on with all four SHR cars this year, we hope the company is keeping a log of all the things knocking its teams out of contention. It'll be a fun list to look back on at the end of the season.
8. Matt Kenseth (LW: 8): After finishing 14th at Bristol, Kenseth gets to keep his spot because that car was freaking fast. The drive he made through the field after Timmy Hill crunched the rear end of his car was remarkable. Sure, the handling eventually disappeared and Kenseth nearly crashed his car a couple of times after that, but it didn't feel like he should have even been in contention after that accident in the first place.
9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (LW: NR): Stenhouse said he would have used the bumper on Carl Edwards had he gotten the opportunity to race him for the win. That would have been fun to see, but at the same time, Edwards was more than two seconds ahead of Stenhouse when the accidental caution flag flew. It wasn't really going to happen. But hey, teammate drama would have been fun to think about, right? We like beef.
10. Aric Almirola (LW: NR): As Fox was scrambling to interview anyone and everyone who had sat behind the wheel of a car at Bristol during its rain delay coverage, Almirola said during his interview that he liked Bristol because it reminded him of short track racing when he was making his way through the ranks. It may be one of our favorite quotes of the young season. And hey, he backed up that like with a third-place finish.
11. Denny Hamlin (LW: 10): We were expecting a bit more out of Hamlin on Sunday. Finishing sixth isn't anything to sneeze at, but after he got the pole, we had visions of Hamlin leading over 100 laps and being a contender for the win. Instead, he was simply a mainstay in the top 10. Mind you, Hamlin's short-track excellence is what set these expectations for us, and this is a purposefully exaggerated paragraph of disappointment.
12. Tony Stewart (LW: NR): Props to Stewart for breaking out the "just what the doctor ordered" pun after finishing fourth Sunday night. Wonder when he decided he wanted to use that after his first good finish of 2014. November? October? On a serious note, a top-five at Bristol for Stewart is cause for celebration, especially after he started 37th. Now it's time to prove that his ill-handling car at Las Vegas was an aberration.
Lucky Dog: Marcos Ambrose finished fifth, giving Richard Petty Motorsports two cars in the top five and Ford four cars in the top five. Will either of those things happen again this season?
The DNF: Jamie McMurray's DNF had nothing to do with anything he did. He simply was in the wrong spot -- running strongly -- when Kevin Harvick crashed and as McMurray slid he got hit by Brad Keselowski.
Dropped Out: Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard.
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