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: 4): We'll start by saying that Gordon assumes the top spot this week by process of elimination. There's really no one else who you could put here, sans for Joey Logano, and he's already made a nice enough leap. But we're also not going to let the "last man standing" idea diminish the race that Gordon had Monday. His car was fast the entire weekend, he just wasn't race-winning fast, though he did his best to fight off Logano for the lead as the white flag flew. If more people would have gone for two tires, Gordon might have been in victory lane.
2. Joey Logano (LW: 9): Logano assumed the lead of Monday's race on lap 225 and just drove away from the field. If Gordon or someone else would have taken the checkered flag after the green-white-checker finish was set up by Kurt Busch's tire incident, it would have deprived Logano of a win he looked all but certain to get. Which seems pretty similar to Gordon at California, no? And as you see endlessly this week that seven different drivers have won the first seven races, ask yourself something: did you expect any of the seven winners to not win this year?
3. Carl Edwards (LW: 2): Did you know that Edwards went a lap down twice over the last half of the race? After starting fifth, Edwards' car tailed off considerably and he got the Lucky Dog over the final two caution flags. That allowed him to finish 14th and ahead of four other drivers on the lead lap. The bizarre Roush issue of one driver and one driver only succeeding continued as well too. Greg Biffle was strong and ran in the top 10 all day while Edwards faltered and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was an absolute nonfactor.
4. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 3): Johnson gets to drop just one spot here because his day went south after he was collateral damage from Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s incident. His beautiful white paint scheme got all mudded up and his windshield was knocked astray even before he had his tire issue under green. NASCAR was also not very happy with crew chief Chad Knaus as his team fixed the collateral damage too. Knaus blatantly didn't care about the too-many-men-over-the-wall penalties and also had Johnson speeding on pit road to stay on the lead lap. If you were listening to the officials' channel at that time, it was entertaining stuff.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 1): Junior made a mistake getting into the infield grass and we're not going to harp on that. Drivers do make mistakes from time to time. What we're going to do in this space is mention the absurdity of not having a track covered in SAFER barrier while building a multi-million dollar big screen TV to have the privilege of saying your track has the largest HDTV in the world. Yes, SAFER isn't mandated by NASCAR to be all the way around tracks, and that is on the sanctioning body. But someone needs to set a precedent for others to follow. Texas, the sport's most popular driver hit a bare concrete wall on Monday. Is that same concrete going to be bare again in November?
6. Matt Kenseth (LW: 6): Kenseth is second in the points standings but maintains his spot here after finishing seventh. We expected more from Kenseth this weekend -- he was our pick to win -- but he was hampered by a poor qualifying effort. Heck, all three of the Joe Gibbs Racing cars didn't qualify exceptionally well, though all three raced really well. It's time for another JGR car!
7. Kyle Busch (LW: 7): After finishing third, it's easy to wonder if Busch should be higher in Power Rankings, but where should he go? Can he vault past Kenseth? Can we really drop Junior to seventh? Those are questions we lean "no" to, hence why he's still here. Busch really tried to make some hay on the high side in turns one and two on the next-to-last lap, but simply didn't have enough momentum to ever get close to challenging for the lead.
8. Brad Keselowski (LW: 8): Keselowski had a real Oreo of a day, assuming that you think the cookies are the bad parts and the creme is the best part. After the jet dryers on track popped the hood up on his car, his team taped down the hood and Keselowski ran in the top five for basically the entire race. Until he got a speeding penalty right before the green-white-checker finish, that is. It relegated him to the back of the pack and a 15th-place finish that was at least 12 spots worse than where he probably would have ended up.
9. Kyle Larson (LW: NR): What's with the attempts to manufacture a rivalry between Larson and Kyle Busch? Yes, they share the same first name and they'll likely be battling each other for wins in the Cup Series at various points throughout the future. But can any potential rivalry happen on its own without any prodding? Once again, the best moments in racing are the ones that are organic.
10. Brian Vickers (LW: NR): Did you know that Brian Vickers was in the top 10 in points? Unless you're a Vickers fan or recently took a look at the Sprint Cup standings, the guess here is that you didn't. Much like Gordon, Vickers' decision to take two tires worked out well. It got him a top-five finish that he otherwise likely wouldn't have gotten.
11. Tony Stewart (LW: 11): The driver who was in 11th last week stays in 11th this week after finishing 10th. That sentence would have worked a lot better if Stewart had finished a position lower, but we'll roll with it. After starting on the pole, Stewart had the fastest car through the first fifth of the race, but then he slowly slid backwards before settling at the back half of the top 10.
12. Denny Hamlin (LW: NR): If Hamlin hadn't sped on pit road, he probably would be higher in Power Rankings. Instead, he finished 13th, the lowest of the three JGR drivers. Hamlin's also 14th in the standings despite missing a race and he's even ahead of the man ahead of him in Power Rankings.
Lucky Dog: Let's go with all three RCR cars. They're clustered in the standings at separated by a solitary point after Menard finished 9th.
The DNF: Kevin Harvick. Kurt Busch. Yeah, you know their story.
Dropped Out: Harvick, Busch, Dillon
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