Chase Power Rankings: When a spoiler is not a spoiler

The sixth 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. Admit it: when Johnson backed into the wall, you thought that was it for his championship chances. You thought he was done, toast, finito. NOT SO! Look, if nothing else, the way that Johnson got himself back into the Kansas race, and by association the Cup, ought to endear him to some good ol' boys; the 48 was taped together like a redneck lawnmower. Last week: 2.

2. Brad Keselowski. If Keselowski does win, he'll point to the Busch/Newman wreck he dodged Sunday as a key point. He knew this, and said as much in the car. The guy is already preparing his Victory DVD. Last week: 3.

3. Denny Hamlin. Not a good week for Hamlin, who had a chance to make up some ground and couldn't quite do it. On the plus side, he didn't completely torpedo his chances, so, you know, always look on the bright side of life. Last week: 1.

4. Clint Bowyer. Homecomings have to stink. I mean, this is your home track (if you're Clint Bowyer, that is) and you've probably got a ton of family asking for tickets, especially that Uncle Spuckler you can't stand but you have to keep him happy because he's your mom's little brother and he's been a little touched since he got kicked in the head by that mule when he was a kid and ... Last week: 4.

5. Martin Truex Jr. You've got to figure that Truex wishes the season was about 70 weeks long, because he's been on a steady, if slow, upward trend for months now. Alas, nobody else wishes that, Martin. Go home. Last week: 6.

6. Kasey Kahne. For much of the day Sunday, Kahne was driving the NASCAR equivalent of a wagon going down a steep hill. He's still mathematically in all this, but he's so, so far behind that it's going to be just about impossible for him to catch up. Last week: 5.

7. Matt Kenseth. Two wins in the Chase? He's gotta be leading, right? Well ... no. Is he a case for reworking the points scheme to keep people in the mix later? Perhaps. Last week: 9.

8. Tony Stewart. Even though he's effectively done this year, Stewart continues to get in scraps with his fellow drivers. This week, it was Kasey Kahne. Got to love Smoke. Last week: 10.

9. Jeff Gordon. The long, slow fade of 2012 continues for Gordon. He's still relevant, he's still a top-flight driver, but this year it's all over and done with. Last week: 7.

10. Greg Biffle. Like Kenseth, he ran well at Kansas. Like Kenseth, it really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. Like Kenseth, he'll be classy in defeat. Last week: 8.

11. Kevin Harvick. Yeah, uh ... well, at least he made the Chase, right? We look for small victories for most guys at this point in the season. Last week: 11.

12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. So Junior was coming back at Martinsville, then maybe he isn't. What concerns me most is the "impact test" Rick Hendrick was talking about on Sunday. That doesn't sound like something you want to give a concussion victim. Last week: 12.

Non-Chaser of the week: Paul Menard. Wait, Paul Menard got third place? Is that right? And this wasn't a rain-shortened race? Huh. Nice job, PFM.

All right, you're up. Where should everyone go? Go!

What to Read Next