The first race of the Chase is over, and that means it's time for Power Rankings! But we're doing things a little differently now that we're in the postseason. It's all-Chasers, all the time. Good job, good effort for those of you that didn't make it, but we've got bigger fish to focus on. We'll be judging who's running well, considering not just finishing position but quality of run, expected potential, and general gut feelings. As always, we hate your guy and are biased against him. Now, enjoy.
1. Jimmie Johnson: We call Jimmie Johnson "Vader" around these parts. (No, we've never figured out who Luke is, though we're cool with Chad Knaus being the Emperor.) It's because the 48 is relentless, like the Vader in the first two Star Wars movies, not the indecisive goof in "Return of the Jedi" or the whiny twit in the prequels. (Last week: 2)
2. Brad Keselowski: The Chase is all about keeping yourself in position, and Keselowski did exactly that by finishing sixth. If you can't win, keep the winner in your sights. (Last week: 1)
3. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin made a guarantee of victory last Sunday, which was awesome. Then he backed off it on Friday, which was weak. And he made a Babe Ruth called-shot motion when he won, which was ridiculous. Ride it out, Hamlin. Own it. (Last week: 5)
4. Kasey Kahne: Exactly where he needs to be. After his early-season debacles, Kahne has specialized in keeping close without screwing up too badly. A top-5 finish? That'll do. For now. (Last week: 3)
5. Clint Bowyer: We didn't give Bowyer much of a chance to win this thing, and absent a couple victories we still don't, but hey ... there's always a chance. (Last week: 7)
6. Jeff Gordon: This is how badly one terrible finish can hurt you: Gordon is still mired in last place despite a third-place finish this week. He's running well but has zip to show for it. (Last week: 9)
7. Tony Stewart: Decent but unspectacular week for Smoke, but at least he's keeping himself in the mix. He's currently only a handful of points off the lead, which at this point is saying something. (Last week: 4)
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: About time to make that move, Junior. Two straight weeks of mid-high-pack finishes ain't gonna cut it. (Last week: 6)
9. Matt Kenseth: Looking a bit grim for Kenseth, who appears to have lost whatever single-digit mojo he had earlier this season. (Last week: 9)
10. Kevin Harvick: This is a 10th-place kind of year for Harvick, and fittingly enough, he finished 11th at Loudon. (Last week: 12)
11. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex may have seen his best chance to get in the Chase hunt pass him by before the Chase even began. (Last week: 11)
12. Greg Biffle: That points lead seems a long, long way away right now. (Last week: 10)
Non-Chaser of the week: Brian Vickers, with yet another top-10 performance that ought to get him a better ride next year. What's a brother got to do?
All right, your turn. Who goes where?
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