The big riser this week in the NASCAR power rankings is a no-brainer. It's Martin Truex Jr., who after six runner-up finishes and 218 races since his previous win returned to Victory Lane following a six-year absence.
As for the rest of the order, yeah, Jimmie Johnson is still No.1 followed by Kevin Harvick in second. But there was plenty of movement from third on back.
1. Jimmie Johnson (Last week: 1)
What can kindly be described as curious pit strategy by Chad Knaus has proved costly these last two weeks. At Michigan his call to take four tires rather than two put Johnson at a disadvantage he couldn't overcome. Whereas at Sonoma, Knaus interestingly went with two tires on the day's final pit stop -- which is atypical at a road course -- and again, handcuffed his driver.
2. Kevin Harvick (LW: 2)
Steady is the name of the game for Harvick, who wasn't spectacular at Sonoma but still good enough to finish 10th. It was his sixth straight top 10 and his seventh in eight races. In two starts at Kentucky has placed 11th and 16th and has yet to lead a lap.
3. Clint Bowyer (LW: 5)
Bowyer has this consistency thing down as his fifth-place finish was his ninth top 10 of the season. But for the 14th time in 16 races he again failed to lead a lap, a clear indicator that the 15 team still isn't quite at the same level as some of the others in the garage.
4. Kyle Busch (LW: 3)
You knew it was going to be that kind of day for Busch when he was spun almost immediately by Juan Pablo Montoya. And it was. As he was later tagged by Carl Edwards and went skidding into the tire barriers. Needless to say, Busch was happy to put Wine Country in the rearview mirror and head to the Bluegrass State where he won in 2011 and was dominant last year.
5. Matt Kenseth (LW: 4)
Not known for his road racing skills, Kenseth was more than solid at Sonoma, as he ran in the top 10 for the majority of the afternoon. However, he wasn't rewarded for his effort, as he had to conserve fuel late and tumbled down the running order to 19th.
6. Carl Edwards (LW: 7)
One thing you can say about Edwards is he always keeps things interesting. A week ago it was when he started a tiff with Greg Biffle, while this week he spun out Kyle Busch. What happens at Kentucky is anyone's guess.
7. Greg Biffle (LW: 8)
It's been quite a turnaround for Biffle, who three weeks ago was candid about the plight of the Ford teams and the lack of cooperation with Penske Racing. And since then he has a win, a second and most recently, an eighth.
8. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 13)
After repeatedly knocking on the door to Victory Lane for six years and 218 races, Truex forcefully kicked it down with an 8-plus second win on one of the toughest circuits on the schedule.
9. Tony Stewart (LW: 6)
Stewart would have had his fifth top 10 in as many races had it not been for an ill-advised dive-bomb of Jeff Burton. He also hooked the rear of Denny Hamlin's car and was responsible for him wrecking. Long story short; Stewart had an eventful day.
10. Kurt Busch (LW: 12)
Here is what was written about Busch in this space a week ago: "Qualified well, ran up front early and then for some reason or another finishes lower than he should have otherwise. This is the formula Busch has fine-tuned in recent months and was on full display at Michigan. And Charlotte. And Darlington. Well, you get the point." You can go ahead and add Sonoma to this list.
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 9)
It wasn't necessarily pretty, and it included an off-course excursion, but the end result had Earnhardt in 12th. And on a track where he's never posted a top-10 finish, that is a result he will gladly take.
12. Joey Logano (LW: 11)
Which driver at Penske Racing wins a race first: Logano or Keselowski? The obvious answer is the defending champion, especially considering his track record at Kentucky. But the smart reply may be Logano, who is continually running up front and has a five-race run where he hasn't finished worse than 11th.
13. Jeff Gordon (LW: 15)
It would have been fascinating to see what would have happened if there had been a caution with a handful of laps to go. Would Gordon have been able to get around Truex? Hard to say considering how he burned up his tires charging from 19th to second. Regardless, it would have been fun to watch.
14 Kasey Kahne (LW: 14)
A sixth at Sonoma was much needed after lengthy stretch highlighted by mechanical failures and numerous crashes. Which shows how good this team can be if they could just find some consistency.
15. Brad Keselowski (LW: 10)
Quite a few drivers are in need of a good run, and near the top of the list is Keselowski. He has just a lone top 10 in the last eight races and is teetering on of dropping out of the top 10 in points. If the defending Cup champion is looking for something to be optimistic about, he did win at Kentucky last season.