NASCAR Daytona power rankings

Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmie Johnson is obviously first in the NASCAR power rankings, but who is second? And does Danica Patrick make this week's list?

After winning the Daytona 500 for a second time, Jimmie Johnson is obviously No. 1 in the first NASCAR power rankings of the year. But who is second and where does the rest of the field fall into place?

1. Jimmie Johnson

The media's preseason pick to win the championship did nothing during Speedweeks to dispel the belief that he is the driver to beat this season. In the days leading up to race day and in the Daytona 500 itself, Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus were calculating and deftly avoided any potential pratfalls that would hinder their chances of winning. Mission accomplished.

2. Brad Keselowski

The relentlessness and never-give-up attitude that defined Brad Keselowski's championship run of a year ago was on full display Sunday. The No. 2 team overcame not one but two incidents on the track, made significant repairs to its Ford Fusion and still almost won Daytona. That they finished fourth should be considered a minor miracle.

3. Denny Hamlin

Started 35th after a crash in his Duel, yet Denny Hamlin still found a way to get to the front and lead 33 laps. But after getting pinned down in the low groove and lacking a drafting partner, he fell back to 14th. And post-race Hamlin voiced his displeasure on Twitter, calling former teammate Joey Logano a "genius" for his refusal to stick to the bottom lane.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It doesn't matter the style of the car or the form of racing, it is clear Dale Earnhardt Jr. is going to find a way to use the draft to his advantage. And while another runner-up finish may be a bit disappointing, a strong start to the year is exactly what Earnhardt Jr. needs to erase any doubts about the way last season ended.

5. Greg Biffle

Greg Biffle quietly finished second in the Sprint Unlimited, second in the Budweiser Duel and sixth in the Daytona 500. It's too bad NASCAR wasn't awarding points for every race that ran throughout Speedweeks.

6. Matt Kenseth

After leading the most laps, the answer to the question of "How long is it going to take Matt Kenseth to adjust to his new surroundings?" is one race.

7. Kyle Busch

Stop me if this sounds familiar: Kyle Busch is in the mix for a high finish and potential victory; however, an issue with his Toyota power plant sends him to the garage early. To his credit, Busch didn't throw his team under the bus in what had to be a frustrating situation.

8. Clint Bowyer

One of my favorite moments of the Daytona 500 was when Clint Bowyer was tucked in behind Danica Patrick for a long period of time and Bowyer's crew radioed him and let him know that he was getting lots of TV time as a result. Would you expect anything less from a team owned by Michael Waltrip?

9. Mark Martin

Surprisingly, Mark Martin has never won a points-paying race at Daytona. After a fine third-place finish in the Daytona 500, the 54-year-old is now 0-55 at NASCAR's second-oldest superspeedway.

10. Danica Patrick

Too high of a ranking? Absolutely. Will Danica Patrick be ranked next week following Phoenix? Highly unlikely. For now, though, let's just enjoy what she accomplished.

11. Kevin Harvick

After dominating throughout the week, getting crashed 32 laps into the Daytona 500 had to be a bitter pill for Kevin Harvick to swallow. The good news for him is he won at Phoenix last fall.

12. Tony Stewart

Now 0-15 in the "Great American Race," Tony Stewart's woes in the Daytona 500 are -- more than ever before -- beginning to take on a Dale Earnhardt-esque look to them.

13. Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon dominated early, but an overcooked engine due to a hotdog wrapper dropped him back in the pack and from there it was an uphill battle. He finished 20th.

14. Kasey Kahne

A bit of a dark-horse pick heading into Sunday, Kasey Kahne's race was over rather quickly after a tap from Kyle Busch set off a nine-car accident.

15. Michael McDowell

His ninth-place result in the Daytona 500 was the first time in 115 starts that Michael McDowell finished a Cup race inside the top 10. And for that he gets a spot in this week's rankings.

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