All five of these drivers are in Power Rankings but only three have a title shot. (Getty)
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): This is the second sentence of Kenseth's first comment in the post-race transcript: "Overall, for how bad I felt like we struggled with the car, that was a decent finish." Dear Matt, you finished seventh, and you were in the top five for the majority of the race. Yes, I know you said that both Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson finished ahead of you, so that does hurt the points lead, but you finished seventh.
2. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 3): Vader's back. Wait, he never left, so nevermind. Here's a question that probably has no right answer: if you could only pick Jimmie Johnson to win at one track, are you taking him at Dover or Martinsville? Johnson's win at Dover tied his Martinsville mark for most wins at a single track (8). Yeah, he's got one less start at Martinsville and he may very well make it nine in a few weeks. But that's how good he's been at Dover.
3. Kyle Busch (LW: 2): It was brought up on Twitter on Sunday afternoon by Jenna Fryer, but it bears repeating; Busch's average finish through three Chase races is a staunch 3.0. And he's in third in the standings. And now he's third in Power Rankings. We haven't seen the best of the No. 18 yet this Chase, which is a bit scary. But what's also scary is the fact that from what we've seen through three races, the No. 18's best could end up being third best.
4. Jeff Gordon (LW: 10): Right now, being fourth in Power Rankings (and in the standings) is being like the first guy left out of the Chase and then being added in because the powers that be felt sorry for you. Hey-oh! Really, while he's almost 40 points out, Gordon may still be in this thing and we don't know it. Who's to stop Brian France from awarding him 30 extra points and making this a four person race? That'd ruin the headline in this post too. Which would not be cool.
5. Kevin Harvick (LW: 7): Harvick's ability to get a good finish in the latter half of a race looked like it'd be an advantage in the Chase. Now, it's become blatantly obvious that it isn't one, simply because the three guys dominating the Chase have been up front the entire race. Harvick's going to finish in the top five, and may even end up fourth, but he's an usher at the wedding right now.
6. Greg Biffle (LW: 5): Appreciate the optimism, Biffle, but what's going to change to not make this a three-car race? Well, a crash involving all three of them at Kansas could do it, I guess. Hmm... Wonder if I gave anyone any ideas with that? Biffle's running the best he has all season. It's just not enough, nor will it be.
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 12): Think of the reaction to Junior's missed pit entry had it ended up costing him the race? It didn't, so it's an afterthought, and the memory from Sunday will be Johnson holding Junior at bay. Johnson got the advantage when Junior tried the high line a little too early, but don't blame him for doing that. Junior knew that he needed to do something different to run Johnson down. It just didn't work out.
8. Kurt Busch (LW: 4): Before Sunday's race, Busch's pit crew was reshuffled and members were added from Brian Scott's Nationwide team in a boost to help Busch on pit road. And what do you know, a loose wheel forces Busch to pit under green and then a caution flag comes out and his race was essentially over. We had no idea that the Kurt Busch wheel of destruction's "game over" space actually involved a literal wheel.
9. Ryan Newman (LW: 10): Free Bloomin' Onions again on Monday. I'm starting to really wonder if Ryan Newman's Stewart-Haas Racing tenure is not going to be defined by the Chase appearances or the Brickyard 400 wins, but rather by the number of free appetizers and month's worth of mortgages his sponsors delivered. If that's not a sign that you've made it as a NASCAR sponsor, I don't know what is.
10. Carl Edwards (LW: 6): Speaking of wheels, a hub made Cousin's Chase chances go kaput too. Edwards and Biffle were locked in a battle for fourth and for the right to call themselves the highest finishing Roush driver this season. Now Biffle has a significant advantage and Edwards is wishing his proclamations that his team would win the Chase would have actually come true.
11. Clint Bowyer (LW: 8): Anyone else think jokingly for a second that the final debris caution was the "Yes, we realize Clint Bowyer could win this race and no, we're not going to let that happen" caution? I kid, kind of, but Bowyer was looking like he'd be the only guy able to make it on fuel to the finish without a caution. And a Bowyer Chase victory would have been a tad awkward for NASCAR, don't you think? Would have been fun to watch though.
12. Joey Logano (LW: NR): Welcome back, Joey. Nice third place run. Logano is still in 12th in the standings but is only 18 points back of seventh place. If Chicago was his only poor finish, expect him to keep climbing.
Lucky Dog: With Chasers in the top 10, we'll give it to the highest finishing non-Chaser, which was Jamie McMurray. But poor Zoolander was in Power Rankings last week and dropped out, so this kind of feels like a pity award.
The DNF: That could be Edwards, but we'll go with Brad Keselowski, whose engine broke a seal and started leaking oil. The team was able to fix it and get him back on track, however. But that's of little consolation.
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