NASCAR power rankings: Busch's crash moves Johnson back to the top

Jeff Zelevansky

Kyle Busch's struggles at Kansas opened the door for a new No. 1 in this week's NASCAR power rankings.

Do the NASCAR power rankings serve as some sort of curse? Of course it's not to the level of the jinx of being on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but there is something afoot.

After his win at Texas propelled Kyle Busch to No. 1 in last week's rankings, his streak of top-five finishes came to a crashing halt Sunday at Kansas Speedway. This followed the trend of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson each having short stays atop the rankings after ascending to the No. 1 spot.

And with Johnson back to No. 1 and heading to a track where he's been hit-or-miss as of late along Busch's dominance at Richmond -- he's won four straight spring races -- means there will likely be further shuffling at this time next week.

Without further ado here are this week's power rankings:

1. Jimmie Johnson (Last week: 2)

Brad Keselowski sounding off on the NASCAR inspection process, Denny Hamlin's assorted issues and Kyle Busch's dominance have all shared the spotlight in the last few weeks. All the while, the 48 team quietly goes about its business with Sunday's third-place run at Kansas being as about as quiet as it gets. And it's hard to ignore Johnson's commanding 37-point lead.

2. Brad Keselowski (LW: 3)

As has become his habit, Keselowski stages a ferocious late rally and snags a top 10. And that he did so despite a left-rear quarterpanel looking like it had been peeled back by a can opener, made it all the more impressive.

3. Kyle Busch (LW: 1)

Here is the Cliffs Notes version of Busch's weekend at Kansas: He wrecked in opening Cup practice Friday, crashed not once but twice in Saturday's Truck Series race, and then on Sunday spun six laps into the Cup race and topped it all off with a hard wreck where he was lucky to escape uninjured.

4. Matt Kenseth (LW: 8)

Kenseth has been steadfast that he has no regrets about leaving Roush Fenway Racing after 13 seasons and has never given it a second thought. That resolve will undoubtedly be tested now that NASCAR has hit the 20 team with penalties that can kindly be described as unforgiving for an engine that failed post-race tech.

5. Kasey Kahne (LW: 5)

Kahne would have three victories were it not for Kenseth. But with a win at Bristol and now sitting a career-high second in points there is no reason to talk about what-ifs.

6. Carl Edwards (LW: 4)

Edwards said beforehand that he wanted a victory at Kansas more than a win in the Daytona 500. And were it not for a late yellow he was in excellent position to do just that. Alas, he got trapped a lap down and ended the day 17th.

7. Greg Biffle (LW: 6)

A two-time Kansas winner, Biffle was expected to be among the challengers. Instead, he was virtually invisible en route to finishing 19th. However, he still sits fourth overall despite just one top five on the year.

8. Clint Bowyer (LW: 10)

On a conference call Tuesday, Bowyer says he's pleased with where his team is at and thinks it's better than it was a year ago. Understandable when you consider he's ranked ninth and has four top 10s. If there is a concern, though, it's that he's led just one lap all season.

9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 7)

Had a car better than 16th, but a late caution cost Earnhardt his track position and he never recovered. Regardless, after back-to-back tough races it was a good sign that this team again is competitive.

10. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 14)

Consecutive finishes of fifth or better have been huge for Truex, who has jumped 11 spots in the standings in the last two weeks. And remarkably, this is the first time since 2007 that he has posted back-to-back top fives.

11. Paul Menard (LW: 11)

If you thought at this point in the season Menard would have as many top 10s as Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick combined; you should probably buy a lottery ticket. And while you're at it, please buy one for me.

12. Aric Almirola (Unranked)

Can Almirola put the iconic No. 43 Petty car in the Chase? It might be too soon for that kind of talk. However, with this team's proficiency on intermediate tracks a win somewhere along the way isn't out of the question.

13. Jamie McMurray (Unranked)

There isn't anything flashy about what McMurray's doing but it is effective. Case in point, with three top 10s, already he has as many as he had all of 2012.

14. Kevin Harvick (LW: 13)

This exchange between Harvick and crew chief Gil Martin following a slow pit stop speaks volumes about the current state of the 29 team: Harvick: "We need to get our f------ s--- together!" Martin: "How about just drive the f------ thing?"

15. Jeff Gordon (LW: 12)

On the surface finishing 13th isn't something Gordon would usually celebrate. But after starting dead last in a backup car following a crash in qualifying, that he found a way to pass cars on a day when many couldn't, makes Kansas a successful outing.

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