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. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 1):
I'm running out of superlatives for Johnson's performance so far. His 75 point lead could be over 100 if you want to play the "What if?" game and peg him with eight wins this season. Then that would mean Johnson would have 24 bonus points to start the Chase as it stands right now, and man, we're really starting to give the Vader haters nightmares. Though honestly, Jimmie is doing that well enough on his own.
2. Tony Stewart (LW: 10):
Told you that second place was wide open. Smoke gets it this week by virtue of hosting a wildly successful Truck race at Eldora, his dirt track, owning the Brickyard 400 winner's car and finishing fourth himself. However, his comments about "racing" and "passing" don't contribute to this ranking. I understand what Tony was trying to say, especially given his love of Indianapolis, but, no. A race with just one on-track pass for the lead is going to get questioned, no matter where it's at.
3. Matt Kenseth (LW: 5):
Much like Stewart, Kenseth hung near the front of the field all day but never got close to the level that Johnson and Ryan Newman were at. Flatline is still tied with Johnson for the Cup Series wins lead, but it's still a little striking to look at the standings and see that he's 125 points behind him.
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 6):
Hitting pit road early because of a loose wheel in the opening laps of a race is never a good omen, but in this case, it might have ended up helping Junior. The early green flag pit stop put him off-sequence, and much like Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano and others, the different stop cycle meant that after everyone had pitted for the final time, Junior was in the top 10. However, it was definitely not a good thing for the team member that forgot to tighten the wheel on the hub before the race.
5. Kyle Busch (LW: 3):
Since we counted Eldora for Stewart do we get to count the Nationwide race for Busch? On Saturday, his car was better relative to the rest of the field than Johnson and Newman were to the 41 other Cup drivers on Sunday. Though he had to work for that win over the final six laps. That was one hell of a drive through turns one and two with Joey Logano after the restart and while it was only a matter of time before he got around Brian Scott for the lead with three laps to go, Scott didn't make it easy on Busch.
6. Kevin Harvick (LW: 2):
This is probably a little harsh for Harvick and Clint Bowyer, who were displaced from the top four after New Hampshire, but neither of them performed very well at Indianapolis. And we just returned from an off week so how am I supposed to remember what happened at or before New Hampshire?
7. Clint Bowyer (LW: 4):
At the beginning of qualifying on Saturday, Bowyer told ESPN that his car wasn't as fast as how good it looked. I'm ambivalent about the paint scheme (co-owner Rob Kauffman's dealership sponsored the car, so Bowyer had his reasons for being effusive), and well, his performance was pretty ambivalent too. Bowyer finished 20th.
8. Kasey Kahne (LW: 12): In the two races with Great Clips on the hood, Kahne has won and finished third. Great Clips just upped its sponsorship of the No. 5 to 10 races for the next three seasons. What does that mean? Absolutely nothing, other than Kasey Kahne is guaranteed to show up at media days and/or press conferences with funky haircuts at various points for the foreseeable future.
9. Ryan Newman (LW: NR): Is Quicken Loans going to pay the mortgage on the Smurfs' house now that Newman won? Do the Smurfs have a mortgage? Do you get a Smurf when with every new Quicken Loans mortgage this week? Why am I even asking these questions?
10. Carl Edwards (LW: 8): The most that we saw of Edwards on Sunday was during ESPN's intro when he got out of bed shirtless, threw on a sleeveless shirt to show off the goods -- sun's out, guns out, you know -- and then started doing pushups. For every point Edwards scores from here on out, he should do that many pushups after the race after getting out of the car, a la Truman the Tiger, the University of Missouri mascot after every Mizzou touchdown.
11. Jeff Gordon (LW: NR):
Just when you think that Jeff Gordon's race got screwed when he was caught when a caution flag came out during green flag pit stops, think again! It was finally Gordon's turn to benefit, and his subsequent pit strategy got him a seventh place finish. But the question remains: Why the heck does Gordon seem to always be directly impacted when the yellow flag flies during green flag pit stops?
12. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: NR):
Truex made the best of a shaky MWR weekend, moving up to 11th from a 38th starting position on a track where drivers complained about being unable to pass. Maybe the trick was to drive for a good team and qualify poorly? Sorry, the secret's out, Martin.
Lucky Dog: Right now, the only candidate here is Joey Logano, but it seems like Joey Logano has been in this spot a lot this year. Oh well, it's going to be Logano, who finished 8th and is still on the periphery of Chase contention.
The DNF: The wheel of RCR destruction picks Jeff Burton this week, and much like Paul Menard at Daytona, Burton's Chase chances slowed down with his car on Sunday.
Dropped out: Brian Vickers, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski
Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Tony Stewart OK after violent sprint car crash
• Kurt Busch seeks edge in race for Chase
• Poor pit stop costs Jimmie Johnson at the Brickyard
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Jeff Gordon
- Jimmie Johnson
- Joey Logano
- Clint Bowyer
- Ryan Newman
- Tony Stewart