NASCAR power rankings: Martinsville rout propels Johnson to No. 1

Drew Hallowell

A statement victory moves Jimmie Johnson to the top of the power rankings, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. tumbles following his worst outing of the year.

After a disappointing day at Martinsville, Dale Earnhardt Jr's reign atop the power rankings was a short one. As for who replaces him, that is no surprise, as Jimmie Johnson became the first driver this season to win multiple races.

1. Jimmie Johnson (Last week: 4)

Set a new track record in qualifying, led the most laps, won the race and regained the points lead. Yeah, I think Johnson deserves to be ranked No. 1 this week.

2. Brad Keselowski (LW: 2)

The penalty NASCAR issued Keselowski for pitting outside his pit box was egregious. That said, the defending Cup champ recovered nicely and finished sixth.

3. Kyle Busch (LW: 3)

Those early-season engine failures sure seem like a thing of the past, considering Busch has finishes of fourth, second, first and fifth the last four weeks. Probably should be a spot higher, but of the two guys above him, who deserves to get dropped?

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 1)

If you're mystified how a car goes from that good early on to that bad late, how do you think Earnhardt and Steve Letarte feel? Earnhardt seemed downright baffled post-race. The good news for him is that he has four consecutive top 10s in the Lone Star State.

5. Kasey Kahne (LW: 7)

As Kahne's three teammates gather in the headlines for various reasons, the fourth member of Hendrick Motorsports has quietly posted four consecutive finishes of ninth or better, including a fourth at Martinsville.

6. Matt Kenseth (LW: 6)

Prior to this past weekend, in 26 starts at Martinsville, Kenseth had led a combined 73 laps. Sunday, he was out front for 96 laps. The problem is that he still finished 14th, which underlines the issue the 20 team has had this year in matching the result to the performance-level.

7. Carl Edwards (LW: 5)

In practice, the No. 99 car was among the fastest on the track, and Edwards looked to have a realistic shot at ending Ford's Martinsville drought dating back to the 2002 season. However, somewhere between Saturday and Sunday, the speed vanished and Edwards became a virtual non-factor.

8. Clint Bowyer (LW: 11)

Smoke, mirrors, hard driving and lots of duct tape were the keys to Bowyer's runner-up finish. This team has been better than its results have indicated -- which can be said about a handful of teams on this list.

9. Greg Biffle (LW: 8)

After consecutive top 10s at Fontana and Martinsville, don't be surprised if Biffle breaks through this weekend. He enters Texas as the defending champion and hasn't finished worse than 10th in his last nine starts..

10. Jeff Gordon (LW: Unranked)

Sunday was the first time in 14 Martinsville starts that he failed to lead a single lap. Regardless, he still crossed the line in third, which is the first time this season he's finished in the top five.

11. Paul Menard (LW: 9)

Menard's 19th-place finish ended his streak of top 10s at three. No matter, sitting ninth in points, he still heads to Texas the highest ranked Richard Childress Racing driver.

12. Jamie McMurray (LW: Unranked)

With two top 10s in the last three races, there is reason for optimism that McMurray and Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing have turned the corner after two brutal years. Then again, McMurray had his moments early last season and that ultimately proved to be a mirage. Point being, let's give it a few more weeks before we declare this driver/team combination "back."

13. Kurt Busch (LW: 10)

Busch has a hate-hate relationship with Martinsville and that attitude was on full display this past weekend. First, it was a flat tire, followed by a cut brake line igniting a fire which engulfed the No. 78 car. Things should be better at Texas, where Busch finished eighth last fall.

14. Joey Logano (LW: 12)

Finishing 23rd isn't anything special. However, when you consider that Logano had a quiet, uneventful day, which at times saw him race side-by-side with nemesis Tony Stewart, it was the exact kind of afternoon Logano needed.

15. Kevin Harvick (LW: 14)

Two questions: 1) How is it that Harvick has led one lap this year? 2) Through six races, why hasn't this team shown any signs of competitiveness yet?

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