NASCAR power rankings: Jimmie Johnson reigns supreme

Chris Graythen

The 2013 season concludes with Jimmie Johnson cemented atop the NASCAR power rankings.

A season which seemingly began forever ago has finally concluded after 36 races featuring 17 different winners. And it comes with absolutely no surprise that the same guy who started the year No. 1 in the NASCAR power rankings ends the year in the same position.  So without further ado, here are the final power rankings of 2013.

1. Jimmie Johnson (Last week: 1)

Within a 12-year span, Johnson has accumulated six championships and 66 victories, which is absolutely staggering. And what's even scarier is that at age 38, there is still plenty of time for him to further add to these totals.

2. Matt Kenseth (LW: 2)

Phoenix is going to weigh heavy on this team for some time -- as it should -- but don't let that mask the fact Kenseth's first season with Joe Gibbs Racing was an unquantifiable success. He won a series-best seven races and transformed a previously underachieving No. 20 team into legitimate title contenders.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 4)

Another near-win for Earnhardt in a season filled with them. Regardless, his third-place run was his 22nd top-10 finish of the year, which sets a personal best. He also ends the year fifth in points, the highest he's been since 2006. The only downer is Earnhardt again failed to win a race for the fifth time in seven years.

4. Kevin Harvick (LW: 3)

It was going to take something miraculous for Harvick to win the championship, and having a car that didn't handle did him no favors. But despite the early setback, which included tires he thought were mismatched, Harvick rallied and ended his tenure with Richard Childress with a 10th-place finish.

5. Kyle Busch (LW: 5)

The crash at Kansas was a difficult hurdle to overcome. However, what really hindered Busch were consecutive subpar finishes at Martinsville and Texas, two tracks where he should have been better. And while he may be frustrated, there is a lot to like about Busch's season, particularly the Chase, as he ended the year a career-best fourth in points.

6. Brad Keselowski (LW: 7)

Although he didn't defend his championship to the level he wished, there is no denying that Keselowski's reign was certainly eventful. But with renewed consistency in the Chase -- he had seven finishes of 11th or better -- there's reason to think Keselowski will again be a player in 2014.

7.  Joey Logano (LW: 8)

Last season there were questions whether Logano was deserving of a Cup ride. He answered those doubts in resounding fashion, setting career highs in top-fives, top-10s, laps led and average finish.  Now, can he do it again?

8. Jeff Gordon (LW: 6)

As his teammate further cements his legacy, one can't help but wonder where Gordon's career would be if he and Ray Evernham never split. In all likelihood he wouldn't be stuck on four championships and it would be Gordon, not Johnson, in consideration as NASCAR's greatest driver.

9. Clint Bowyer (LW: 9)

The curse of second place continues. The latest victim is Bowyer, who last season won three races and finished second to Brad Keselowski, went winless and finished seventh overall. This marks the fifth time in six years the driver who finished second failed to win a race.

10. Denny Hamlin (LW: Unranked)

In a season otherwise filled with frustration and disappointment, Hamlin found some much needed solace Sunday. The win continues a streak that has seen him score at least one victory a year since his rookie season. And just as he did when he won at Homestead in 2009, he carries a wave of momentum into the offseason.

11. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 15)

No more "NAPA know how" for Truex, who ended his tenure at Michael Waltrip Racing with a fine fourth-place run. And while it's not a move he necessarily wanted to make, if there is an upside to joining Furniture Row Racing it's that he won't be required to sing in any more commercials.

12. Kasey Kahne (LW: 12)

Kahne's up-and-down Chase continued at Homestead, as tire issues put him behind early. He never was able to fully recover and placed 13th. On the year he finished 12th overall, which is the lowest of the four Hendrick drivers, and says something both about the year Kahne had and the organization as a whole. What that is, exactly, is left to your interpretation.

13. Greg Biffle (LW: 11)

There was a moment Sunday where it looked like Biffle would enact his revenge on Johnson. The incident occurred as Johnson was dropping back with what appeared to be a tire rub. Biffle first rode Johnson's rear bumper down the straightaway, and then pushed him low in the corner. This caused Johnson's spotter to refer to Biffle as a "gnat," though there was an expletive thrown in for good measure.

14. Kurt Busch (LW: 10)

It was announced Tuesday Busch will work with a rookie crew chief Daniel Knost next season at Stewart-Haas Racing. And as his in-race radio transmission from Homestead can attest, where Busch bluntly described the characteristics of his car and struggled to finish 21, Knost should ask for hazard pay.

15. Carl Edwards (LW: 15)

From first in the standings when the regular season ended to last when the Chase concludes, it's been a precipitous drop for Edwards over the last 10 weeks.

More from SB Nation:

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Jimmie Johnson: "This is extremely sweet"

Strong season has Earnhardt thinking championship

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