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. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 2): With Johnson's four-point lead over Kenseth now, it's time for the cries of inevitability of a sixth championship, right? Last year, Johnson made up nine points on Brad Keselowski at Martinsville to leave with a two-point lead and then subsequently won at Texas. And we saw what happened the final two races. So even if Johnson extends his points lead a little bit at Martinsville, let's wait until Texas.
2. Matt Kenseth (LW: 1): We all know that drivers can be a bit hyperbolic while they're in the car, but Kenseth's radio communication to his team relative to his position on the track as he described his car as wicked loose was fun to note. We don't doubt the at the handling on his car went away and that he was really having to struggle with the car, but he never lost touch with the leaders. That's when you know it's going well.
3. Kyle Busch (LW: 5): Kyle Busch is like the dude you tried to kick out of the party. He left, but came back and now he's standing in the street in front of your house. He's not at the party any longer, but he hasn't gone away and he's in the vicinity. And because he's not at the party, you can't get rid of him again.
4. Kevin Harvick (LW: 3): While Kevin Harvick is the dude that is at the party, but he's standing in the corner because he's going through a transition right now and just wants to have a good time without any distractions. But he's not a fan of the guy standing in the street, so he may go outside and scream at him. If he does that, do you let him back into the party? That's for Jimmie and Matt to decide.
5. Jeff Gordon (LW: 4): And Jeff Gordon left early. The bottom line simply was not going to work over the last 10 laps, and Gordon went there and didn't have any help. he fell backwards, and then when no one made moves over those final laps, he didn't have anywhere to go upwards.
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 7): Junior had an idea of what he wanted to do to get around Jamie McMurray, it just never was able to materialize. And thus, the capital of Junior Nation goes longing for another winter for a win from its president and namesake. Side note: that Mountain Dew car was flat out hideous. There is absolutely no denying it.
7. Jamie McMurray (LW: NR): Is McMurray having the most quiet "good" season in NASCAR? With the Chase, it's hard to call anything past missing the playoffs with a good descriptor, but this team was 27th two years ago. And now it's 14th with a win. And it's not a fluke, McMurray has been right in that neighborhood since finishing 25th at Sonoma. After that race, his worst finish has been 22nd.
8. Clint Bowyer (LW: 10): It seems kind of pointless to try to rank the Chasers from here on, but let's try. Outside of Earnhardt and Busch, who finished third and fifth, Kenseth who finished 20th and Kasey Kahne driving like the outcast of the Chase, the rest of the Chase field finished from 9th-18th. At Talladega, single-file, how the hell can that be quantified?
9. Kurt Busch (LW: 8): Kurt, you could have taken the top spot in Power Rankings with a re-enactment of the invisible fire scene. But instead, you didn't. That's a shame. And you know what else is a shame? The Wonder Bread paint scheme. That car looked good, but why didn't they go for the full Talladega Nights Monty when they had the chance?
10. Ryan Newman (LW: 11): Congratulations, Ryan, you were that ninth place finisher, so you can move up a spot in Power Rankings. But maybe you deserve to move up a lot more because you went an entire Talladega race without crashing. Let us pause and remember this historic and monumental Ryan Newman Talladega achievement.
11. Carl Edwards (LW: 9): We didn't mention it in the McMurray piece, but what a weekend for Missouri. The Tigers went to 7-0, so did the Chiefs, and the Cardinals are in the World Series while McMurray won. (We'd count Sporting Kansas City but they're technically in Kansas.) Pick up the slack, Edwards!
12. David Ragan (LW: 12): Ragan went out and backed up his spot before Talladega with a seventh place finish. And we found out last week that both he and David Gilliland would be back with the team in 2014. That's not a shabby sequence at all, especially when highlighted by consecutive Power Rankings appearances.
Lucky Dog: Austin Dillon for landing on his wheels and Casey Mears for not clobbering into Dillon's car even harder than he did.
The DNF: Tony Raines' engine didn't even make it two laps. That's really, really impressive.
Dropped Out: Brad Keselowski.
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