Power Rankings: And then there were two. For now, anyway

Nick Bromberg
From the Marbles

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: 1): Kenseth described his car as "evilest" at one point during Sunday's race. He openly wondered if it was a word. He wasn't the only person struggling with his car all weekend, though a pit road speeding penalty and a caution flag right after a green flag pit stop will make things a lot tougher than they should be. Considering all of that, 11th place was enough to hold on to the points lead, and thus, Power Rankings.

2. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 2): Twas another Kansas escape for Vader. Last year, he crashed and came back to finish ninth with a crumpled decklid and rear bumper to stay hot on Brad Keselowski's heels. This year, his engine started vibrating badly two laps from the finish and he was able to limp home a sixth place finish. You do need some good breaks to win a title, and both Kenseth and Johnson got those Sunday.

3. Kevin Harvick (LW: 5): Cupcake didn't need many good breaks on Sunday. While Johnson might have had the fastest car, Harvick had the clean air at the beginning and the end. As Geoffrey Miller noted on Twitter, where can we buy the clean air t-shirts? Or are those just white undershirts? But that's not to undersell Harvick, he drove a good race and got his team the track position in the first place.

4. Jeff Gordon (LW: 4): Gordon's just hanging around and may make this thing interesting, isn't he? The discussion he had with Kurt Busch after the race was poo-pooed by each driver and they shared a kumbaya moment in the media center after the race. Maybe their discussion was just noticeable because it was about a good race for position in a wild race that didn't have much passing.

5. Kyle Busch (LW: 3): Do we need to talk about how it's now a stiff test of the resolve of Kyle Busch now that Kansas Speedway has bitten him in the hind end once again? Or has that been talked about enough? Kyle's frustration Sunday was more evident not when he was facing the media after crashing but when he went to the apron with Juan Pablo Montoya. Dude, just give up the spot and go get it later.

6. Kurt Busch (LW: 8): It's important to note that despite the joy that Kurt Busch showed after Sunday's second place finish, he was cursing like a madman while mired back near 20th and used the "DFL" phrase to describe his car's handling. Now, we're used to Busch being irate on the radio before, but it was quite the swing to see him proud of the 2nd place finish after the words that were used just a couple hours before.

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 7): That was a pretty quiet eighth place finish for Junior. And given that it's Dale Earnhardt Jr., there aren't too many things he can do on the track quietly. We're going to go ahead and blame it on the fact that he didn't go and get Oklahoma Joe's barbecue while he was in Kansas City. The Z-Man sandwich equals race wins, people.

8. Greg Biffle (LW: 6): Biffle was the lowest starting Chaser and finished 13th. Not a bad day all things considered, but not a good one when Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth are still finishing ahead of you. What else is there to say? Two weeks after his comments about the Chase not being a three man race, well, yeah. It's a two man race at the moment.

9. Carl Edwards (LW: 10): There was a brief moment when Carl Edwards restarted third late in the race that I wondered if he would win the race, which would fulfill one of Edwards' biggest NASCAR objectives outside of winning the Sprint Cup. Instead, he got bottled up behind Jeff Gordon and ended up fifth.

10. Joey Logano (LW: 12): It all goes back to that blown engine. Logano lost 40 points to Matt Kenseth that Chicago night, and if he only lost, say, 10 instead, he'd be 29 points back of the lead and in fourth place. Of course, the what-if game means absolutely nothing. Except to show that Logano has been one of the best performing drivers on the track outside of the kablooie.

11. Clint Bowyer (LW: 11): The Dover yoga has not helped Rawhide. May we suggest running in Kasey Kahne's 5K on Sunday morning? Or maybe arranging a race between Bowyer and Brad Keselowski? Bowyer needs a win for his psyche, and depending on the distance selected, he'd beat Kes. Who is going to make this happen? We could all drink Miller Lite with 5 Hour Energy while we watch.

12. Paul Menard (LW: NR): Oh why not. Menard was our highest finishing non-Chase driver and Kasey Kahne was 15th and Ryan Newman got caught up in Justin Allgaier's crash. Welcome, PFM. Looks like you got some of the speed that Kevin Harvick had all through Sunday.

Lucky Dog: Marcos Ambrose. The spin that Aussie had worked out and put him on a put strategy that had him fourth at the final restart. He faded to ninth, but recorded his fourth top 10 of the year.

The DNF: Newman will get this one, as he started sliding trying to avoid the crashed Allgaier and had absolutely nowhere to go. He's 12th and just 10 points ahead of Kahne in 13th.

Dropped out: Newman.