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?Jimmie Johnson (LW: 1): At one point during Saturday night's NRA 500, Fox TV analyst Darrell Waltrip opined that the rest of the field needed to capitalize on Jimmie Johnson's struggles. He was sixth at the time. Waltrip quickly corrected himself, seemingly after taking a glance at the scoring monitor or getting word from the production truck that Johnson was much closer to the front than he was to 20th. But such is the NASCAR world that we live in where the first instinct is to call running just outside the top five a "struggle" for the 48 team. Kyle Busch (LW: 5): Hello, Kyle. You've got some elite company above and below you. We're not doubting that you belong here by any means, because you've won two of the last three races and you're in that elite discussion. You just don't have the hardware that these guys do. Will you? Probably. Will you have it this year? If you keep this up you will. But we'll worry about the Chase when we get there in 19 races. Kasey Kahne (LW: 4): Kahne's run at Texas was in the same vein of Johnson's. We've come to expect Kahne will do so well at intermediate tracks that an 11th place finish is almost a surprising moment. Another intermediate track awaits on Sunday, and the guess here is that Kahne will be in the top 10. Matt Kenseth (LW: 6): Flatline keeps on flatlining. He ran in the top 10 most of the day before finishing 12th. We're going to use this space as a plea to Matt: start tweeting more often again. Flatline was one of the funniest follows in NASCAR, but over the past few months his Twitter frequency has decreased. Come on Matt, you can tweet from your phone! Just don't do it in the car. Jeff Gordon. Joey Logano (LW: NR): Keselowski's charge was impressive and so was Logano's run the entire race after he barely made the start of the race. Had Logano not been able to get in the car before the field rolled off pit road, we could have had our first opportunity to see a rally-type start in NASCAR, with Logano sprinting to his car as the field is rolling around the track. That could have been something else.
Dropped Out: Jamie McMurray
Lucky Dog: Aric Almirola, who is returning to Kansas after a Texas top 10. His fall race performance before a tire issue derailed his day might have been the strongest one of his career.
The Tony Stewart DNF: Smoke finished outside the top 20 again, so should he get to carry the mantle of his own award? Or should this be renamed the Kurt Busch DNF after a strong run at Texas was derailed by mechanical issues for the second straight week?
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- Jimmie Johnson