1. Greg Biffle: All right, Biffle Believers, we give. We're a third of the way into the season, the guy is still at the top of the standings, and he led more laps than anyone Sunday night. He's got a ways to go to convince me he's a legit championship contender, but he's absolutely in the picture right now. Happy? Last week: 3.
2. Jimmie Johnson: Ever done something so phenomenally stupid in a car that, a few hours or days afterward, you wake up in a cold sweat and think, "Man, I really shouldn't have [stupid act censored because we don't want to give you monsters any ideas.]" Wonder if that's how Jimmie feels about toting Mr. Hendrick around last weekend after the All-Star win. Last week: 1.
3. Kasey Kahne: You gotta hand it to HurriKahne; six weeks ago we had left him for dead, but he rose up. Not in a Walking Dead way, either. He's a lot faster than those zombies. Speaking of which, why haven't we seen any celebrity zombies on that show? You know they're out there. Of course, with certain NASCAR drivers, it'd be hard to tell ... where were we? Oh, yeah: Kahne is good. Last week: 8.
4. Kyle Busch: Interesting, Kyle's rationale for why we've had so many relatively caution-free races: that these are "43 of the best drivers in the world." You hear that? KYLE BUSCH SAYS DANICA PATRICK IS "ONE OF THE BEST DRIVERS IN THE WORLD. That's how headlines are made, folks. You're welcome. Last week: 4.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: You know, when Dale Earnhardt Jr. does actually win, it'll be a little sad, won't it? It'll be the end of a long line of jokes. "Ha ha Junior hasn't won since...uh, last week" doesn't carry the same sting, does it? Of course, at this point the Junior Victory Watch is racing The Rapture for first to arrive, so it may not be much of an issue. Last week: 5.
6. Matt Kenseth: We're now starting to see several drivers put together sustained powerful runs, which means that anybody who's not running up front is going to suffer. All of which is to say: chill out, Kensethians; your guy is just fine even though he dropped four spots. Last week: 2.
7. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin's rationale for why the race ended so early: "Everyone wanted to make last call." Works for me. Anybody in Charlotte, how often do you see NASCAR drivers around? Do you run into them at, like, gas stations and doctor's offices? That would be both awesome and oddly deflating. Last week: 9.
8. Brad Keselowski: Another solid run for @Kes, highlighted by his accidental pit-road spinout of Tony Stewart. Keselowski apologized profusely, and I would too; last thing you need is Tony Stewart storing up grudges against you. You know the guy's got a whole instantly accessible database of who pissed him off and when, accessible at a moment's notice. Last week: 6.
9. Carl Edwards. All the Roush Fenway cars this past weekend were similarly patriotically themed, which made it very tough for them to stand out in the crowd. Say what you will about Danica Patrick (and, some weeks, Jamie McMurray), but at least you can see their cars from orbit. That's what we want out of a paint scheme. Last week: 11.
10. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex said in interviews before Charlotte that he was very happy at MWR and looking to potentially sign a contract there to re-up later this year. DUDE. Basic contract negotiation 101: make 'em want you! At the very least, negotiate your way out of the NAPA commercials. Last week: 10.
11. Tony Stewart: Smoke really does check out when he's not in the mix in a race. To be fair, he had absolute garbage the last two weeks in Charlotte; he was resigned rather than furious over the radio. Still, the guy usually doesn't start winning until this point in the season anyway. Last week: 7.
12. Kevin Harvick: Rumors are flying that Harvick's kid is going to be named "Otis." Probably untrue, but what the hell. I've got to say, a kid named "Otis Harvick" is going to be the absolute terror of the neonatal unit, and will be the alpha dog the rest of his life. Get on Otis's good side while he's still a fetus, people. Last week: 12.
Lucky Dog: Jeff Gordon. At last, a race where nothing went wrong! You know that his crew was wondering what was going to screw up in those final laps. Blown tire? Electrical failure? Meteor strike? But he escaped with a seventh-place finish.
DNF: Marcos Ambrose and AJ Allmendinger. Two strong cars, two unfortunate mechanical problems. These guys aren't in a position where they can afford to fall apart when they're running well in a race.