NASCAR power rankings: You know who ascends to No. 1

Chris Graythen

This week’s rankings sees an all too familiar face again residing in the No. 1 position.

They say everything is bigger in Texas and apparently this is applicable whenever the Sprint Cup Series visits the Lone Star State. As Jimmie Johnson's 4.3 seconds margin of victory Sunday was the largest this season in an oval track race. (Martin Truex Jr. won at the Sonoma road course by over eight seconds.)

That Johnson put the whip to the field was no surprise, and neither is the fact that he moves back to No. 1 spot in this week's NASCAR power rankings:

1. Jimmie Johnson (Last week: 2)

How was your weekend? Because no matter how good it may have been, it likely didn't match Johnson's, who was in the lead for 76 percent of the race, visited Victory Lane and took control of the championship. In a career filled with them, this was another sublime performance for the five-time champ. At no point Sunday was the 48 car seriously challenged, and the one time Johnson was mired in traffic due to a slow pit stop, he drove from sixth to the lead within 15 laps.

2. Matt Kenseth (LW: 1)

The speeding penalty didn't help, but Kenseth himself admitted he had nothing for Johnson. And in a testament to just how dialed in a team has to be to win the title, all Kenseth did Sunday was have an average running position of fifth and finish fourth. And yet he lost ground to his counterpart, and heads to Phoenix seven points in the hole.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 5)

In the previous six years NASCAR's most popular driver hasn't ended a year better than seventh in the standings. Now, though, after his fifth runner-up finish in six weeks, Earnhardt Jr. is fifth overall and has a realistic chance of climbing to fourth.

4. Kevin Harvick (LW: 4)

The goal of winning a championship in his final season with Richard Childress Racing isn't going to happen. That said, with three wins and sitting third in points, Harvick has a lot to be proud of; putting aside that whole unseemliness at Martinsville, of course.

5. Kyle Busch (LW: 6)

The damage inflicted from hitting the wall Busch was able to overcome, as he clawed his way back to second. However, the late speeding penalty proved to be too much and he left Texas with a 13th-place finish that should have been better.

6. Jeff Gordon (LW: 3)

From the euphoria of winning at Martinsville to the devastation of crashing at Texas, it was a week of extreme emotions for Gordon. And while it was always a pipe dream to think he could catch and pass Johnson and Kenseth, it's now a certainty that Gordon's championship drought will extend to 12 years and counting.

7. Clint Bowyer (LW: 7)

A few weeks ago no driver looked more ready for the season to be over than Bowyer, as the events of Richmond had obviously taken its toll. But a 10th at Texas was his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better, and he seems to have found his missing form. And wouldn't it be something if his first win of the season came at Phoenix, where Bowyer memorably was involved in a near brawl a year ago after being intentionally wrecked by Jeff Gordon.

8. Brad Keselowski (LW: 10)

Best in class, as Keselowski (sixth) was the top non-Chaser at Texas. The defending series champion has now recorded three top-10s in his last four starts, seemingly building a case that this year was an aberration and nothing more.

9. Joey Logano (LW: 13)

The consistency may not be there, but when the No. 22 team is on its game they're formidable. As Logano's third-place run was his third top-five finish in the Chase, which is just one less than Edwards, Kurt Busch and Bowyer have accumulated combined.

10. Greg Biffle (LW: 11)

Between tire issues and an engine that may not have been 100-percent effective, that Biffle mustered a 12th should be seen as a positive. In the bigger picture, however, it's symbolic of his Chase, where he's been good, but not great, with some variable always keeping him from getting to the next level.

11. Carl Edwards (LW: 8)

Started on the pole where he's won a track-best four times, Edwards' day came unraveled when his Ford power plant expired. And a Chase that has been almost nothing but disappointing, adds yet another chapter.

12. Ryan Newman (LW: 14)

Like many others, Newman battled an extremely loose car, though in his case he hung in there and netted a ninth-place finish.

13. Jamie McMurray (LW: 9)

The momentum from his win at Talladega followed by a 10th at Martinsville came to a screeching halt this past weekend. A slow car that was far too loose for McMurray's liking resulted in him finishing 31st, five laps down. That's not just bad, that's downright ugly.

14. Kurt Busch (LW: 12)

No longer qualifying or finishing well, the sand continues to slide away in Busch's attempt to get Furniture Row Racing to Victory Lane.

15. Kasey Kahne (LW: 15)

How do you know you're having a bad Chase? When you finish fifth and you're still 13th in the standings, 15 points behind the next closest driver.

More from SB Nation:

Complete coverage of the 2013 Sprint Cup Chase

Johnson takes points lead with dominant victory

Another runner-up finish for Dale, Jr.

NASCAR power rankings: Kenseth surges past Johnson

The good times, hard life and shocking death of Dick Trickle

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