Power Rankings

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Smoke rising through the carnage of Daytona
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<p> Matt Kenseth leads Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads north to New Hampshire Motor Speedway.</p>
2012

1. Matt Kenseth   Kenseth was the man to beat at Daytona for a second straight trip, although the fortunes of plate racing found him third by night’s end. Still, RFR is the team to beat on the plate tracks.

2. Jimmie Johnson   Johnson’s 2012 plate racing results: 42nd, 35th and 36th. In fact, his plate stats over the last few years — outside of a Talladega win — aren’t that impressive. Speaks more to the style of racing than the driver.

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NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

From the Bluegrass to the Beach
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<p> Jimmie Johnson leads Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Daytona.</p>
2012

1. Jimmie Johnson  Lost a shot at the win during the final restart in Kentucky when he picked up trash on his tires. Managed to rebound to sixth after a quick backslide, his 13th top 10 of the season.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Was never a factor for the win at Kentucky, but ran consistently in the top 10 most of the evening before climbing to fourth at race’s end.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

At Long Last, the Son Rises
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<p> Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally ascends to the top of Athlon Sports' Horsepower Rankings after breaking a 143-race winless skid with a victory at Michigan International Speedway.</p>
2012

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
We’ve said all along that Earnhardt’s consistency warranted the top spot, but a lack of any wins kept him from it. Well, the 143-race national nightmare is over, and Junior can now lead the way.

2. Jimmie Johnson
Replace the engine and start in the rear of the field? No problem for Chad Knaus and crew. They just handed the ball to J.J., who drove it to a fifth-place finish with blistered tires and an empty gas tank.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Greg Biffle holds the field at bay
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<p> Brad Keselowski earned his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the year at Talladega, but Greg Biffle holds serve atop Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>
2012

1. Greg Biffle   Found himself in roughly the same position at Talladega as he was in at Daytona ... which isn’t bad when you’re clicking off top 5s like it’s the ARCA Series.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Doesn’t seem able to finish outside of the top 10 if he tries, but this is Dale Earnhardt Jr. we’re talking about, so only a win will keep the critics at bay.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Greg Biffle slide-job's his way to the top
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<p> Greg Biffle scored his first win of the 2012 and retained the points lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. That's enough to place him atop Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>
2012

by Matt Taliaferro

1. Greg Biffle  Cemented his status as the points leader with an impressive win in Texas. Biffle has yet to finish worse than 13th this season, and is looking forward to Kansas — one of his best tracks — this weekend.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Greg Biffle rides consistency to top

by Matt Taliaferro

1. Greg Biffle  Biffle’s team was the one under the Roush Fenway banner that laid low during the offseason. The result has been third-place finishes across the board. Bristol is usually good to them, too.

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<p> Greg Biffle tops Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>

9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  The dominating run in the first half of the Vegas race was encouraging, but fading to 10th was all-too-familiar. Bristol should be another top-10 performance, though.

10. Kyle Busch  “Rowdy” is ranked here more on 2012 potential than 2012 accomplishment. Bristol may change that.

11. Joey Logano  So far, so good for the new Logano/Jason Ratcliff pairing. Wonder if he’ll be looking for the 24 this weekend?

12. Brad Keselowski  A fifth is sandwiched between two 32nd-place finishes. Again, potential/accomplishment. And again, that could change this weekend.

13. Paul Menard  Has quietly enjoyed two top-7 runs at Daytona and Vegas. He was fifth in last year’s spring Bristol race.

14. Martin Truex Jr.  If this team ever learns how to finish a race, it’ll be dangerous.

15. Marcos Ambrose  An excellent Bristol darkhorse, Ambrose has three top 10s in six Cup Series starts.

Just off the lead pack: Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman


 

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2012
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NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Denny Hamlin, Darian Grubb come out swinging.

by Matt Taliaferro

Like every other NASCAR landing page on the web, Athlon Sports has a little fun each week ranking the drivers and teams of the Sprint Cup circuit. Our rankings go beyond how each finished the weekend prior and/or where they sit in the official championship standings.

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<p> Denny Hamlin leads the Sprint Cup Series pack with a strong run out of the gate to begin the 2012 NASCAR&nbsp;season.</p>

11. Tony Stewart  Stewart got off to a slow start last year too, and look how that worked out.

12. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Being happy with a top 15 in Phoenix isn’t exactly what you want to hear out of the team. Unfortunately, it looked like a lot of the same ’ol, same ’ol from the 88.

13. Jeff Burton  A good run went bad when the engine went up in smoke late. Otherwise, the 31 team has had a promising start.

14. Jeff Gordon  Made the most of a mediocre day at PIR with a solid eighth-place finish, which is what Jeff Gordon does best.

15. Marcos Ambrose  The results may not show it, but Ambrose and his RPM bunch have been pretty racy so far. They may not be flashy, but don’t be surprised if the top 10s start to pile up as we go forward.

Just off the lead pack: Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Bobby Labonte, Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr.

Check back each Tuesday for Athlon Sports’ revised rankings, and follow Matt on Twitter:

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2013
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NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Edwards, Stewart square off in season finale

by Matt Taliaferro

1. Tony Stewart  It’s tough to rank Stewart ahead of Carl Edwards or vise versa, but Smoke gets the edge here because he’s throwing wins on the board — and that’s fun to watch.

2. Carl Edwards  His consistency — highlighted by consecutive runner-up showings — is unquestioned. Edwards won the season finale in Homestead last season. Winning a second straight would clinch the title.

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<p> It's a two-man race as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series makes its final stop of the season. Predictably, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart top Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>

8. Denny Hamlin  When asked whether his sports psychologist might help teammate Kyle Busch he said, “We both have screws loose — it’s just that some are tighter than others. And they’re in different places.” That’s deep.

9. Clint Bowyer  Bowyer is finishing his tenure at Richard Childress Racing strong with six top 10s in the nine Chase races thus far. Credit driver and team for hanging tough.

10. Greg Biffle  Has averaged a 14th-place finish throughout the Chase which, incidentally, is probably where he’ll finish in the point standings if Kasey Kahne keeps coming on.

11. Jeff Gordon  Looked as out to lunch at Phoenix as we’ve seen all year. Experimenting, maybe?

12. AJ Allmendinger  Allmendinger will be the next driver to score his first Cup victory. Hell, it could come this weekend.

13. Marcos Ambrose  Between Allmendinger and Ambrose, it’s obvious they’re doing something right at RPM (or they’re not tinkering with new setups as much as other teams are).

14. Kyle Busch  Official reason for Kyle’s DNF at Phoenix: Karma.

15. Martin Truex Jr.  If this team could ever learn to put an entire race together they’d be dangerous.

Just off the lead pack: Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Ryan Newman
 

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NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

A Two Man Show? Not Just Yet.

by Matt Taliaferro

1. Carl Edwards
Talladega and Martinsville were the wild card tracks, and the two Edwards and crew were most apprehensive about. They went into ’Dega with a five-point lead and left Martinsville up eight.

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<p> Is it a two-man battle? Not yet, but Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart have certainly separated from the pack in the Chase standings and in Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>

8. Jeff Gordon
It’s been a disappointing Chase for Gordon and the gang thus far. In fact, his third-place run at Martinsville was the best showing he’s had since a fourth in Loudon, five weeks ago.

9. Clint Bowyer
Will Bowyer’s hiring at Michael Waltrip Racing come at the expense of David Reutimann’s full-season effort? It just might ...

10. Kyle Busch
Has been wholly unspectacular throughout the Chase, which begs the question, “Why is he rated so high on this list?” Answer: Because he still has the ability to win on any given weekend.

11. Kasey Kahne
A strong six-race run comes to an end in Martinsville, which has never been a great “Kasey track.”

12. Kurt Busch
Sliding the wrong way since the win at Dover five weeks ago.

13. Jeff Burton
Follows runner-up showing at Talladega with a sixth at Martinsville.

14. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In lieu of a top-5 finish, it was at least good to hear Junior having fun in Martinsville.

15. Greg Biffle
Averaging a rather pedestrian 13th-place run over the last month.

Just off the lead pack: AJ Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose, Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr.
 

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NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Edwards wins by "running and hiding" at Talladega

by Matt Taliaferro

1. Carl Edwards No one driver wins the Chase at Talladega, but many lose it. Edwards did neither, which is a good thing for him. Expect top-10 runs from here on out.

2. Matt Kenseth Edwards’ teammate and the 2003 champ, Kenseth, sits just 14 points back in second. Both are good (Texas, Homestead) and weak (Martinsville) at the same tracks.

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<p> Carl Edwards survived the melee that is the final few laps at Talladega on Sunday to extend his points lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He also extended his lead over Matt Kenseth in Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>

8. Clint Bowyer  Four of his six Chase races have resulted in finishes of eighth or better, including, of course, the big win at ’Dega. It may be the last one he sees for a while since MWR isn’t known as a big-win operation.

9. Jeff Gordon  Gordon’s 27th at Talladega and the events that conspired to contribute to it may have been frustrating, but say this about him: He seemed to be the only Hendrick car that wanted to go to the front and race.

10. Kasey Kahne  Kahne’s average finish in the last six races is 7.1, including four straight runs of sixth or better. It’s a shame everything is coming together for this bunch as the season winds down.

11. Denny Hamlin  Back-to-back solid finishes with his favorite stop — Martinsville — up next.

12. Paul Menard  Leads all drivers on the circuit with a 10.2-place average finish on the plate tracks in 2011.

13. Greg Biffle  Winless thus far in 2011. That’s only happened once to the Biff in eight full-time Cup seasons.

14. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  It ain’t getting any prettier, but I get hate mail if he’s not at least ranked in the top 15.

15. Joey Logano  The final results (24th) don’t back up the great run Logano had at ’Dega with a torn up car.

Just off the lead pack: AJ Allmendinger, Jeff Burton, Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr.
 

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