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Will no one wrest the top spot from Edwards?
by Matt Taliaferro
1. Carl Edwards Edwards had the most telling line of the weekend at Pocono: “What’s the point of having the points lead if you don’t use it?” Think about that. That’s deep stuff.
2. Jimmie Johnson A dearth of wins through the spring was a little surprising, but a summer lull is not. We’ve seen this before, right? He’ll be at full bore as the Chase starts.
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. A legitimate case could be made for Junior to sit atop these rankings. The cold, hard fact is that you have to win before you’re the man to beat. And as close as he’s been, that hasn’t happened yet.
4. Kyle Busch We understand your sponsor may not be in agreement, but you can’t continue to let the boys at RCR push you around. Your brother’s “keep smiling” line is poor advice.
5. Kevin Harvick Speaking of the RCR bullies, here sits Harvick, fresh off probation and looking to stir the pot — as long as he’s in the safety of a 3,400-pound racecar or has his crewmen standing behind him.
6. Kurt Busch Whatever ailed Penske Racing seems to have been remedied. Kurt’s consecutive poles and finishes of fourth, ninth and second prove that.
7. Matt Kenseth Led 103 laps only to finish 14th in the Coca-Cola 600, which is his lowest result in the last four races — included in that a win at Dover.
8. Jeff Gordon The win at Pocono — his second of the season — likely locks him in as a wild card, at worse, for the Chase. Throw in some consistency and we got ourselves a legit contender.
9. Denny Hamlin The best car at Pocono was done in by a flat left rear tire. On a more positive note, at least his crew chief isn’t talking smack again.
10. Tony Stewart There’s a precipitous drop from ninth to 10th. Stewart had finished in the top 3 at Pocono in four of the previous five visits, so his 21st-place showing on Sunday is worrisome.
11. Clint Bowyer This team is a tough one to figure. Could still turn it on as Chase approaches and be dangerous.
12. Greg Biffle Like Bowyer, Biffle is riding a roller coaster. Is it time for some internal changes on the 16 team?
13. Kasey Kahne Kahne’s team must learn how to finish. It’s as simple as that.
14. Ryan Newman Sitting ninth in the point standings because no one has decided to take it away from him.
15. Juan Pablo Montoya Has led laps and looked racy in four straight events. Like Kahne, he has to finish.
Just off the lead pack: Jeff Burton, Brad Keselowski, Mark Martin, David Ragan, Martin Truex Jr.
Agree with Matt’s rankings? Disagree? Post a comment below and tell him how you feel. You can also follow Matt on Twitter @MattTaliaferro