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Power Rankings: A Five-Time face back at the top

It's time for Power Rankings! After every race, we'll opine about who we think is at the top of the Sprint Cup heap and how and why they got there. Remember, this isn't scientific, as our formula is the perfect blend of analytics and bias against your favorite driver. So let's get on with it, shall we?

1. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 3): What's the best way to cap off your most dominating win at the track you've dominated the most in your Sprint Cup career to take the points lead? Announce on Tuesday that your second child is due in September. Congratulations, Jimmie and Chandra.

2

. Brad Keselowski (LW: 4): Keselowski doesn't have the stats like Johnson or Denny Hamlin when it comes to Martinsville, but Sunday was his third straight top 10 there. And that ability to finish in the top 10 and therefore keep both of those drivers in sight if they're the ones battling for the lead will serve him well once again in October.

3.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 1): It wasn't a graceful spin from the top spot for Junior, who saw his day head south over the last 100 laps of Sunday's race, and especially after he went spinning off of Danica Patrick, who got bumped by Brian Vickers. And that incident does bring up a good point: If you're playing the Danica Patrick drinking game, what should the required action have been on lap 467?

4. Kasey Kahne (LW: 2): Pardon me for asking, but unless you're a Kasey Kahne fan, did you have any idea that Kahne finished fourth? Talk about an under the radar top five. Yeah, Kahne was near the front all day, but he was never a focal point throughout the race. But you know what? If you're not in the lead, it's usually not a good thing if you're being focused on at Martinsville.

5. Kyle Busch (LW: 5): If his brother Kurt describes his relationship with Martinsville as "complicated," how does Kyle describe it? The same way? In 17 races, he's got 9 top 10s and finishes of 39. 18, 38. 29. 24, 22, 27 and 36. Sunday he was in the former category. That's why he gets to maintain his spot.

6

. Matt Kenseth (LW: 11): Entering Sunday, Kenseth had led 73 laps in his Martinsville career. On Sunday, he led 96. He's never been terrible at Martinsville, but just not good either. So here comes the million dollar question, courtesy of Chad Knaus: How much of that was Kenseth and how much was that his Joe Gibbs Racing car?

7. Clint Bowyer (LW: NR): Yeah, it was a short track, but it's always fun to see a beat up car competing for the lead late in the race, and there's no other way to describe Bowyer's machine. And, thankfully, there were no fireworks between Bowyer and Jeff Gordon late in the race.

8. Jeff Gordon (LW: NR): Nice little bounceback for the original Four-Time to finish third. And yes, we're also going to write in this paragraph here that it was so nice to not see the feud between Bowyer and Gordon extended unnecessarily. Is it as over as Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber now?

9. Greg Biffle (LW: 9): Biffle was ninth going into Martinsville and finished ninth so he gets to stay ninth. That's a damn good finish for the Biff there. And another reason for optimism? He's heading to his best track, a place where he won a year ago.

10. Carl Edwards (LW: 8): Last year, a 15th place finish was the norm for Edwards. This year, it's just his fourth best finish of the first six. He could record his fourth top five (one more than he had all last year) at Texas.

11. Paul Menard (LW: 10): Yeah, the Menarddog only finished 19th, but he's still eighth in the points. That buys you a Power Rankings reprieve for the time being. That was Menard's 12th start at Martinsville and his fifth-highest finish.
12. Jamie McMurray (LW: NR): How the hell do you have McMurray in the Power Rankings? There are so many other drivers that... oh, McMurray is 13th? And he finished 7th Sunday? Yeah, you're good. Good call.

Dropped Out: Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch.

Lucky Dog: Mark Martin, for grabbing a top 10 after being two laps down.

The Tony Stewart DNF: Seriously Stewart, what's the deal? Smoke went backwards yet again at the end of the race and finished 17th. It's not time to panic just yet, but who'da thunk that two drivers who've missed a race (Martin and Hamlin) are ahead of Stewart in the standings?

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