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Power Rankings: Phoenix

Each week of the Sprint Cup season, ESPN The Magazine's Ryan McGee ranks the top 20 drivers in the series. Don't agree with McGee's list? Let him -- and the rest of the world -- know in the conversation section at the bottom of the page. But remember, make your mama proud.

New this week

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Casey Mears

Dropped out

Brian Vickers, Aric Almirola

Biggest mover

Stenhouse jumps from unranked to 13th.

Biggest loser

Tony Stewart falls eight spots from 10th to 18th.

Also considered

Landon Cassill, Jamie McMurray, Reed Sorenson, Terry Labonte

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

I cannot confirm that Redneck Jesus celebrated his Daytona 500 win by walking across the waters of Lake Lloyd. I can confirm that he's also pretty good at Phoenix, with a pair of top-5s in 2013.

2. Denny Hamlin

Finishing second at Daytona without spotter communication is like flying an F-16 through the Grand Canyon with horse blinders on. His career average Phoenix finish of 10.9 is second among active drivers. Who's first?

3. Jimmie Johnson

This guy, with a career average finish of 6.3 over 21 starts, which includes four wins and 17 top-10s. In other words, all you Jimmie haters enjoy him being ranked this low. It likely won't last very long.

4. Matt Kenseth

I'm old enough to remember when Matt was average at Daytona, but he just posted his eighth top-10 finish in 12 races. I'm also old enough to know he's never been great at Phoenix, with just three top-10s in 12 races.

5. Brad Keselowski

We had Dale Jr. on this week's "Marty & McGee" podcast and when we asked him who he'd been most worried about during Sunday's crazy racing he immediately said, "Brad."

6. Jeff Gordon

The Artist Formerly Known As Wonder Boy ended a Daytona 500 skid with his first top-5 since his win in '05. It's been the opposite in the spring Phoenix race, with six top-10s and two wins in eight starts.

7. Kevin Harvick

He and teammate Danica Patrick pounded bare concrete walls on the Daytona frontstretch. So, you can spend $400 million on shopping and escalators but not pay to cover all the walls with SAFER barriers?

8. Kyle Busch

Shrub certainly ran better than his 19th-place finish would lead you to believe. But honestly, that's true for pretty much everyone ranked from here on down.

9. Joey Logano

JoLo was the only JGR driver to leave Daytona without a trophy, but an 11th-place finish is still a solid start to the season. Oh, wait ... he's not at JGR anymore. Does anyone else still make that mistake?

10. Greg Biffle

The Biff made his presence known with authority at Daytona, looking like a contender, but having to settle for a solid top-10 finish. I feel like I write that same thing about him every February.

11. Carl Edwards

Trivia time: Who was the last driver not named Dale Earnhardt Jr. to lead the 2014 Daytona 500? Yeah, I would have lost that bar bet, too. Cuz dominated Phoenix one year ago, leading 122 laps and winning.

12. Kurt Busch

All due respect to Daytona, this is when we find out if this fourth SHR team thrown together for The Outlaw is ready for prime time. He's run well at PIR with all four of his previous rides.

13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The same could be said of this team at Phoenix. It's certainly not thrown together, but it is essentially his old Nationwide Series crew reassembled, and they were wicked good on the flat tracks.

14. Austin Dillon

The good news? He backed up his pole position with a top-10 finish. The bad news? He pulled a Cole Trickle and hit everything but the pace car. Who was the most notable of the cars he hit?

15. Ryan Newman

This guy. Who also happens to be his new teammate. "My bad."

16. Clint Bowyer

People continue to tell me that all will eventually be forgiven about the Richmond conspiracy mess. But right now it's still pretty raw. I'd be lying if I said a cheer didn't go up when he dropped out of the race.

17. Kasey Kahne

I don't envy the job that NASCAR Race Control has. It's an insane amount of information they have to digest every second. But penalizing Kahne for accelerating to avoid being wrecked was an odd call.

18. Tony Stewart

He's now 0-for-16 in the Daytona 500. Will he be like Dale Earnhardt or Darrell Waltrip and eventually win one to great elation, or Terry Labonte, who made his 33rd and final (yet valiant) effort on Sunday?

19. Casey Mears

For all the griping we do about start-and-parks, let's always tip our caps to the teams who only did that when they had to in the process of actually building something. Germain Racing is one of those teams.

20. Martin Truex Jr.

Allow me to quote Mr. Truex himself: "Well, that sucked."