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From The Marbles

Power Rankings: Matt Kenseth reclaims the top spot

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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 now, shall we?

1. Matt Kenseth (LW: 2): Really, why hasn't someone taken the Matty Ice nickname from Matt Ryan and given it to Kenseth? I know we have Flatline, but I can't be the only person that wants to call him Matty Ice. Regardless, we're going to stick with the cliche "Kenseth did what he had to do" at Martinsville line because it's true. It would just be a shame if either Kenseth or Johnson had a mechanical failure over the next three races to make what's been a fight that looks destined to go all 10 rounds a TKO.

2. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 1): I know we talk a lot about Johnson's Martinsville success, but his fifth place finish Sunday was his 16th worst out of 24 starts. Let that sink in. That's crazy. Anyway, Texas Motor Speedway is billing that the battle between Kenseth and Johnson is the tightest NASCAR points race with three to go. And while that is correct, they're tied. Can't really top that, can you?

3. Jeff Gordon (LW: 5): Gordon is trying his best to keep the hope alive that we'll have a treasure trove of "driver added to field by commissioner's selection wins Chase" stories. It's not going to happen, but it's fun to think about. Also fun to think about, Gordon's win total when he retires. Sunday was No. 88. What are the chances he gets to 100?

4. Kevin Harvick (LW: 4): Wow, so the comparison that I had for Harvick in last week's Power Rankings about party guy turned out to be kind of accurate. Except I didn't think that he'd turn on the people he came to the party with. They're sticking with him, at least until the party's over. And that's cool with you, because once the party's over, it's not your problem any longer.

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 6): Junior's running well and had another top 10 at Martinsville. It's just that his Chicago engine failure has ruined the Chase and the torrid pace set by the top two drivers has left him helpless to the championship. Is he the best case for a Chase mulligan? Because he's Junior, maybe not, because of the conspiracies some fans would concoct.

6. Kyle Busch (LW: 3): That car sure faded over the last part of the race and after being near the front all day, Busch ended up 15th. At least he had a better day than his brother, who spun while trying to make a pass and ended up 18th. If Kyle Busch was a Kid Rock song, which one would he be? Why did I ask that question?

7. Clint Bowyer (LW: 8): So it looks like the funny rawhide is back. That's good to see, though it'd be awesome if he made some poison oak jokes and we could all laugh about it. His crew chief Brian Pattie had one of my favorite in-race radio quips of the year Sunday when he told Bowyer to drive the car hard and not loaf around like a certain midwestern-born Camping World Truck Series driver.

8. Jamie McMurray (LW: 6): Sneaky, sneaky, that McMurray. He finished in the top 10 a week after winning at Talladega and could be a surprise contender at Phoenix. He's also 24 points ahead of Brad Keselowski for the prestigious and never-remembered "highest finishing non-Chase driver" award.

9. Greg Biffle (LW: NR): Biffle gets this spot here because of the impressive drive he had without a rear bumper cover over the final laps of the race and the sleek sneak-spin-attack on Jimmie Johnson. If you're scrambling for Halloween party ideas, you could do a lot worse than plastering a bunch of 3M products all over yourself and randomly grabbing people by their collars and torquing them in the name of the Biff.

10. Kurt Busch (LW; 8): Busch could not have planned that spin any better to drive off with minimal damage. He was the guy at fault, but ended up with just a monstrous dent in the door while Mark Martin had an obliterated front end. If Jimmie Johnson has had a golden horseshoe you-know-where in previous chases, don't go looking for what the No. 14 team has. You could be scarred for life.

11. Carl Edwards (LW: 11): If Carl Edwards ever misses his backflip, will it make a thud similar to the one that was heard in Edwards' hometown when Missouri's Andrew Baggett's kick in double overtime clanked off the uprights? That was cathartic to type, I promise. Stick with me at Dr. Saturday for more college football stuff.

12. Ryan Newman (LW: 10): If drivers didn't have custom fitted seats, Sunday would have been the perfect opportunity for Newman to do the whoopie cushion or flaming bag of poo trick to Harvick's seat at Stewart-Haas after Homestead. Alas, we won't have the opportunity for that awesomeness so we'll instead have something else. Likely nothing.

Lucky Dog: Denny Hamlin didn't back up his hot talk after winning the pole with a win, but finished seventh. That's pretty much a win for Hamlin these days. So maybe he did back it up.

The DNF: Dang, David Ragan. After qualifying in the top 10, the engine on his car went sour and he finished dead last.

Dropped Out: Ragan

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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