Our Power Rankings are far from a scientific formula. In fact, it's the perfect blend of analytics and bias against your favorite driver. And you think we dislike your favorite driver, so it makes sense, right? Direct all your complaints to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Jeff Gordon (LW: 2): Gordon's back to the top this week after winning at Michigan but we have to wonder how Lugnut feels after Sprint announced it was stopping the Framily plan after Friday. Lugnut will still be able to be in Gordon's Framily, but it seems so mean of Sprint to utilize Lugnut for such a short-lived marketing campaign. Hopefully he can recover.
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 1): Junior had a discussion with Denny Hamlin on pit road after the race. Cue the dramatic music! Hamlin was trying to side draft off Junior's quarterpanel to keep up (you know, there's that Hendrick horsepower advantage), and Junior had run him up the track earlier in the race. Is this the start of a new feud that will boil over into the Chase? (Spoiler: Probably not.)
3. Kevin Harvick (LW: 3): Four straight second-place finishes at Michigan may be more impressive that four-straight wins. And we say that half-seriously. Kicking 42 other drivers' butts four straight times at the same track is incredibly impressive, but there's something unique about finishing ahead of 41 drivers four different times while losing to a different driver each time.
4. Joey Logano (LW: 4): There's not much you can do when the top four drivers in Power Rankings all finish in the top five. Logano would have moved up had he been able to hold on to the lead, however, Gordon got by him and his one attempt at a pass back for the lead ended up with Logano having to make a very nice save.
5. Brad Keselowski (LW: 6): So did you know Brad rebounded from his encounter with the wall to finish eighth? If this was the Chase, we'd be talking about a potential title-defining moment. Instead, it's buried given that Keselowski is a lock for the Chase. There's still an important lesson in all of this though: when you hit the wall, hit the wall with the wheel as straight as possible.
6. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 7): Johnson had a discussion with Newman in the garage after the race. Cue the dramatic music! The two were racing closely for position inside the top 10 and Newman gave Johnson a Johnny Manzielian salute as they entered turn three. Wait, Newman did the middle finger thing before Manziel? How has Newman not become a national crisis? I demand answers, President Obama. If you're wondering what JJ and Newman said to each other, wonder no more. Johnson got in a great dig at the end if we must say.
7. Clint Bowyer (LW: NR): Ol' Rawhide makes a leap from the territory of the unwashed because he finished sixth and is in position to make the Chase. We like his chances at Bristol too, so he could go win and be in. Call it a hunch. But we're usally wrong, so in that case, sorry Clint.
8. Matt Kenseth (LW: 5): Kenseth was caught up in the aftermath of Danica Patrick's spin following a restart and had his day ruined. Worrying about Kenseth's Chase chances at this point seems excessive. He's got plenty of cushion, though if Bristol repeats itself on Saturday night, there should be a slight amount of concern. But at the same time, Kenseth was running really well in March when he got crashed.
9. A.J. Allmendinger (LW: 9): What, you stayed here for more than a week, A.J.? What the heck happened? Oh, you finished 13th? Yeah, that works. You can stay. We may card you again next week, but if you keep stringing together top 15s you could survive the first elimination round in the Chase.
10. Greg Biffle (LW: NR): Biffle's in the position of guy doing just enough to get into the Chase. Sure, a win helps him immensely, but Biffle's most realistic scenario is to string together top 15 finishes while repeat winners win the next three races. If it happens, Biffle's likely going to make the Chase.
11. Ryan Newman (LW: 11): Johnson characterized his dispute for racing surface with Newman as "normal Ryan stuff" which makes us wonder what a Sprint Cup Series race with 43 Ryan Newmans would be like. Would it be like NASCAR 07 when the entire field is on intimidate and when you go to make a pass the car you're passing tries to block you? Would everyone react the other way and not make a pass at all? This could be fun.
12. Carl Edwards (LW: 10): We'll keep Edwards here because he finally got to talk about his move to Joe Gibbs Racing on Tuesday. The first question that's going to pop into many people's minds at the beginning of 2015 is if Edwards will receive the same type of bump that Kenseth did in 2013 when he moved to JGR. That'll depend a lot on how the JGR cars stack up to the rest of the field.
Lucky Dog: Paul Menard finished fourth, which is good for his Chase chances ... if he hadn't finished below 30th each of the previous three weeks.
The DNF: Kyle Larson can relate, Paul.
Dropped out: Marcos Ambrose, Larson
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