NASCAR power rankings: No separating Gordon, Harvick, Logano, Earnhardt

Jared C. Tilton

Jeff Gordon returns to the No. 1 spot in this week’s rankings.

A week ago the NASCAR power rankings were a muddled mess thanks to the helter-skelter nature of restrictor-plate racing. This week though order has been restored with the young season's most prolific achievers -- Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and yes, Joey Logano -- resuming their places near the top of the 5-Hour Energy 400 finishing order.

1. Jeff Gordon (Last week: 2)

Immense. Momentous. Impactful. Pick an adjective to describe Gordon's Kansas win and it applies. He himself compared it to a weight being lifted off his shoulders. And among the many aftereffects, is that the desperation mode to win, which surrounded the 24 team in recent years, is gone. Now, with a spot in the Chase all but secured, Gordon and crew can focus exclusively on fine-tuning their performance for the playoffs.

2. Joey Logano (LW: 1)

Although Gordon and Harvick are getting the bulk of the attention -- Gordon for his consistency; Harvick for his dominance -- Logano is every bit their equal. He has more wins and top fives than Gordon, and is far more consistent than Harvick. The only difference between Logano and the two guys above him on this list is experience -- championship level experience. Gordon, of course, is a four-time Cup champion, while Harvick has been in the thick of title contention a handful of times. As for Logano, he's trying to qualify for the playoffs for just the second time in his career.

3. Kevin Harvick (LW: 4)

A few more feet and it likely would have been Harvick celebrating his third win of the year. As it was Gordon nipped him at the line, an outcome Harvick attributed to a pair mistakes due to not focusing enough on pit road and later pushing too hard in dogged pursuit of the eventual winner. Still, for a team earlier besieged by assorted gremlins, five consecutive finishes of 11th or better underscores the championship resolve within the No. 4 team.

4. Dale Earnhardt (LW: 5)

It's not often NASCAR's most popular driver is overshadowed, but this past weekend qualifies, as Earnhardt may have had the quietest top-five finish of his career. The lack of attention was understandable when you realize Gordon was in Victory Lane celebrating, while Danica Patrick recorded a career-best seventh-place finish. And if there is something for Earnhardt to take out of Kansas it's that he has a couple of new additions to his race car graveyard.

5. Matt Kenseth (LW: 6)

With Gordon's triumph, Kenseth is now the highest-ranked driver in points and in the power rankings who remains winless. And that first victory of 2014 isn't likely to occur at Charlotte. Not with Joe Gibbs Racing intermediate track program still lagging and nowhere near as dominant as it was last year.

6. Kyle Busch (LW: 5)

If you're Busch, a 15th-place finish is usually no reason to celebrate. This week, however, is the exception, as Saturday marked the first time in three races at the 1.5-mile track where Busch made it to the finish line without crashing.

7. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 7)

Following a couple of off weeks at Richmond and Talladega, Johnson looked back in form at Kansas running up front and leading laps. He finished 10th, but that was largely due to pit strategy and fuel mileage, both of which worked against the defending champ this week.

8. Carl Edwards (LW: 11)

A sixth is not what Edwards, a native of nearby Columbia, Mo., was seeking in front of his hometown fans, but at least he was competitive, something Roush Fenway Racing has struggled with recently on mile-and-a-half tracks.

9. Kyle Larson (LW: 8)

Looking for someone to surprise in the All-Star Race? Look no further than Larson, who thanks to his hard-charging style and fondness for intermediate tracks, should do well in the preliminary Sprint Showdown, essentially a flat-out dash, and earn entry into Saturday's main event. It's not unfathomable to think he could join Earnhardt and Ryan Newman as the only rookies to win the high-profile affair.

10. Brad Keselowski (LW: 10)

Since opening the season with a pair of thirds and a win, Keselowski has just one top-10 in the eight races following. On some level it is a bit disconcerting, sharing some resemblance to his uneven 2013 campaign. But the lack of results is also misleading, with the No. 2 team competitive in numerous races and generally, not really focused on consistency and more so about accumulating victories.

11. Brian Vickers (LW: 9)

Very much under the radar Vickers continues to produce a fine season in his full-time return to Cup competition. A 14th at Kansas marked the seventh top-15 finish in nine races, and the driver for Michael Waltrip Racing sits a steady 10th in points.

12. Kasey Kahne (LW: Unranked)

After a slow start the No. 5 team has shown signs of life in recent weeks with an eighth at Talladega and a season-best third at Kansas. Even better, Kahne now heads to Charlotte, a track where he's won at more than any other.

13. Greg Biffle (LW: 12)

Not the showing (16th) Biffle was looking for at Kansas, a track where he's won twice previously. And surprisingly, despite his prowess on intermediate sized ovals, Charlotte hasn't been the best of tracks for Biffle, who's winless and owns an average finish of 17.0 in 22 career starts.

14. Ryan Newman (LW: 15)

Not flashy just effective as Newman continues to finish between seventh and 20th every race. Seriously, his best result is a pair of sevenths with a crash-induced 22nd at Daytona his worst. It's like Newman is trying to be good, but not good, every week.

15. Denny Hamlin (LW: 13)

Nothing routine about Hamlin's Kansas excursion, as he spun and fell a lap down early only then to climb back into the top 10 before fading to 18th.

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