2013 Power Rankings: Bristol
Each week of the Sprint Cup season, ESPN The Magazine's Ryan McGee ranks the top 20 drivers in the series. Last week's rankings are in parentheses, as are the top-10s.
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
Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray
Ryan Newman, Jeff Burton, AJ Allmendinger
Kyle Busch moves up four spots from 18th to 14th.
Aric Almirola and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. fall three spots each.
Marcos Ambrose, Austin Dillon, Parnelli Jones
No. 1. Brad Keselowski
No win yet, but we've run three totally different types of racetracks and he's the only driver with three top-5s to show for it and legitimately could've won all three. Oh, and he's pretty good at Bristol.
No. 2. Jimmie Johnson
He doesn't have three top-5s, but he's close. His only finish outside the top five was Sunday and he wound up sixth. Finished ninth and second in last year's Bristol visits.
No. 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
All in all, a solid effort. After spending all week explaining how he wasn't great at Vegas, he finished seventh. His career average Bristol finish is 11.8, second among all active drivers. Who is first? Keep reading ...
No. 4. Carl Edwards
On Sunday morning I asked him what was the next sign his team was on the comeback trail now that the drought-breaking win was out of the way. "Get top-5s." A few hours later he finished fifth.
No. 5. Matt Kenseth
You can't let the Silent Assassin slip into the room when it's time to make the money. That's exactly what they did with Kenseth on Sunday and he made them pay. He's a two-time Bristol winner.
No. 6. Clint Bowyer
Was awful early and never recovered, a rare swing and a miss for this team since bringing Bowyer on board. Hot and cold at Bristol, with seven top-10s and seven finishes of 13th or worse.
No. 7. Denny Hamlin
I wanted him to win so that when he came into the media center I could grab the microphone and ask, "So, how's your daughter?" Hey, he told us that's all he's talking about from now on.
No. 8. Tony Stewart
Not great, certainly not a win like last year, but a decent run for Smoke. Honestly, he was so sick of talking about Hamlin, Gen-6, etc., I think he was just ready to move on to the next midweek dirt race.
No. 9. Greg Biffle
The Biff at Vegas totally confounds me. It seems like the place would be custom-made for him, yet he has never won there. And if it confounds me, how do you think he feels about it?
No. 10. Jeff Gordon
You can put Four-Time in the same category as Biffle and Bowyer. Don't ask them what went wrong at Vegas because they were all scratching their heads when they got out of their cars.
No. 11. Mark Martin
This is that time of year when we bid adieu to Martin, who won't be racing at Bristol. But don't start weeping. He'll be back for Fontana the next weekend.
No. 12. Kevin Harvick
The Closer finally closed ... sort of. Instead of fading away as he did in Phoenix, he stayed in the back half of the top 10 most of the day. Loves Bristol, but has struggled there over the past four years.
No. 13. Kasey Kahne
Kahne is usually at his best when the races are the fastest, so it's no surprise that he led a race-best 114 laps and nearly won during Sunday's record-fast, sick and slideways contest.
No. 14. Kyle Busch
Having a car so good and not winning would seem like a bummer. But fourth is way better than his previous three Vegas homecomings. And who has that best career average finish at Bristol? This guy, at 10.3 and five wins.
No. 15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Yes, it seems harsh to drop a guy three spots for leading a lap, finishing 18th, even with a half-wrecked car. But those are the breaks, rookie!
No. 16. Aric Almirola
Same rule applies to Almirola, who is 10th in points, but can't hold up to what I'm expecting from the bigger names above him ... at least not yet.
No. 17. Joey Logano
Sliced Bread quietly had a decent day, finishing 12th and jumping to 15th in points. But it had to hurt a little seeing his old car in Victory Lane without him in it.
No. 18. Paul Menard
Menard didn't sneak into the top 10, he ran there or just outside of it for most of the day. Not a bad sleeper pick for Bristol, where he has posted top-10s in three of the past four races.
No. 19. Martin Truex Jr.
Entering this race there were four 2012 Chasers sitting 23rd or worse in the standings. Of those four, this guy was most in need of a good run. He got it, finishing eighth. Finished third at Bristol one year ago.
No. 20. Jamie McMurray
I get the feeling that Mac doesn't need good finishes to merely move up the standings. He needs good finishes to save his job, and 13th, for this team, is a good finish. Finished seventh at Bristol one year ago.