Consistency is king in NASCAR, but you can't ignore winning, which is why there is a new No. 1 in this week's power rankings.
1. Matt Kenseth (Last week: 10)
While it may be an overreaction considering his lack of consistency, moving Kenseth to No. 1 is deserved. Bristol was his season-best fifth victory of the year, and he did so leading the most laps and holding off a determined Kasey Kahne, who had fresher tires.
2. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 1)
Not that it matters any, but Johnson's once seemingly insurmountable lead has been whittled down to 18 points. Even less consequently is he has lost his standing as the top-ranked driver in the weekly rankings, which will surely keep him awake at night. All of which means he'll go out at Atlanta and steamroll the field to reassert his dominance.
3. Kasey Kahne (LW: 6)
With three runner-up finishes to Kenseth this season, you'll have to excuse Kahne if he wakes up in a cold sweat having nightmares about the No. 20.
4. Clint Bowyer (LW: 2)
Bristol was a roller coaster race for Bowyer. He led 50 laps early before being inexplicably spun by the lapped car of Travis Kvapil. Bowyer would rally, making his way back into the top five where he would then run out of fuel on the final lap and coast to finish 14th.
5. Kyle Busch (LW: 3)
If any driver could start shotgun on the field at Bristol and still win, it would be Busch. But not surprisingly that was too big of any obstacle for even him to overcome, as he got involved in a couple of small skirmishes -- not necessarily of his doing, though -- and ended up placing 11th. It wasn't what he wanted, but considering the circumstances it was a fine effort.
6. Joey Logano (LW: 8)
Aside from some shenanigans with Hamlin on pit road, a penalty for speeding and some frontend damage, it was a fairly uneventful fifth-place run for Logano. And if you're scoring at home, the No. 22 team has finished eighth or better in five consecutive races.
7. Kevin Harvick (LW: 5)
When Harvick stopped in Denny Hamlin's pit stall it sure looked like an old-school, no-holds barred wrasslin' match was about to commence. Then, cooler heads prevailed and the two talked out their differences with nary a punch thrown. Whether that's a good or bad thing is up to you.
8. Carl Edwards (LW: 7)
For only the second time all season Edwards led more than 35 laps in a race, as he paced the field for 119 circuits. Unfortunately, an engine failure relegated him to 39th, though he was optimistic afterward that he will be a contender at Atlanta and Richmond.
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 11)
You're dammed if you do and you're dammed if you don't, and that was the dilemma facing Earnhardt and crew chief Steve Letarte. But looking at the big picture it's hard to argue that pitting for fuel wasn't the sage move because if they gambled and Earnhardt did run dry, the points hit would have been significant.
10. Kurt Busch (LW: 4)
Started near the front, led a bunch of laps, had an issue in the pits and finished far lower than he otherwise should have. Not only was that Busch's night at Bristol, but his season in a nutshell. Now, let's see if he and the No. 78 can maintain their resilience with the news Busch is bound for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.
11. Greg Biffle (LW: 13)
As others have fallen over the Chase cliff and made life increasingly difficult for themselves, Biffle just keeps quietly going about his business. He avoided the mayhem at Bristol to place ninth and moved up a spot to ninth in the standings. More importantly, the gap between himself and 11th-place Brad Keselowski increased from four points to 17.
12. Brad Keselowski (LW: 9)
It was more of the same for Keselowski this past weekend where bad luck intervened and took away what would have been a solid result. Regardless, sitting 11th in points and winless, he is in danger of joining Tony Stewart as the only defending Cup champions who failed to make the Chase the following year.
13. Jeff Gordon (LW: 15)
After consecutive weeks of mediocrity, it appeared Gordon's Chase aspirations were on life support. However, following a spirited seventh at Bristol, accompanied by a bunch of other Chase bubblers having myriad issues, the four-time champ finds himself just 11 points out of the top 10. It won't be easy, but if he runs well at Atlanta and Richmond Gordon should get in.
14. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 12)
Since the beginning of last year, the mile-and-a-half speedways have been Truex's strong suit with near-wins at Kansas (twice), Atlanta and Texas. But a broken right wrist sustained in a crash at Bristol gives doubt about his effectiveness this weekend and at a time when he can't afford to be anything less than stellar.
15. Ryan Newman (LW: 14)
That two-race stretch where we won at Indianapolis and was fourth the following week at Pocono seems forever ago for Newman, who since has finished 14th, 13th and 21st. And maybe it's a coincidence and maybe it's not, but since Stewart was knocked out with a broken leg the No. 39 team hasn't looked the same in his absence.