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Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Loudon

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

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Casey Mears

Dropped out

Aric Almirola, Jeff Burton

Biggest mover

Tony Stewart jumps six spots from 15th to ninth.

Biggest loser

Joey Logano falls five spots from 12th to 17th.

Also considered

Michael Waltrip, J.J. Yeley, Neil Bonnett

No. 1. Jimmie Johnson

On that final restart I don't think he actually kissed his biceps as he drove by, but he might as well have. With 10 career wins at the next three tracks, chances are pretty good he'll keep pouring it on.

No. 2. Kevin Harvick

Mr. Consistency has only one finish outside the top 15 since the Daytona 500. With one win and 12 top-10s in 24 Loudon starts, he'll happily take another top-15 and move on to Indy.

No. 3. Matt Kenseth

The Wisconsin Kid seems to finish much better when he isn't the prerace favorite. He certainly won't be at New Hampshire, where he has just one top-10 in his past 10 tries.

No. 4. Clint Bowyer

Another week, another top-10. But he still needs a win.

No. 5. Kyle Busch

Finishing 12th isn't so bad when you consider that his Camry was being held together with Scotch tape and bungee cords. Shrub's surprisingly bleah at Loudon, with only six top-10s in 16 starts.

No. 6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

I know, I know, he didn't win again. But by the numbers he had the fourth-strongest car on the track. His success at other flat tracks has never fully translated at NHMS, but he did finish fourth one year ago.

No. 7. Carl Edwards

Cuz's Cup contender status feels like it's eroding a bit each week. Don't expect a New Hampshire rebound, where Roush Fenway continues to inexplicably struggle on its second home track.

No. 8. Kurt Busch

Whether he makes the Chase or not, the fact that he's ninth in points at the season's halfway mark is mind-blowing. Extra credit bonus points for rocking the Cole Trickle City Chevrolet paint Friday.

No. 9. Tony Stewart

Any other night and Smoke would have won his fifth Firecracker 400, but even he admitted the 48 was too good. And yes, I still call it the Firecracker 400.

No. 10. Martin Truex Jr.

One week you're in Victory Lane. The next you're in the top 10 and being touted as a title contender. The next you're in the garage wrecked and falling out of the top 10 in points. What a sport.

No. 11. Greg Biffle

Just get me to Pocono ... just get me to Pocono ...

No. 12. Kasey Kahne

I was very happy to see the SAFER barrier awaiting Kahne when he hit the inside wall on the backstretch. I was equally unhappy to see it missing from the frontstretch wall where Denny Hamlin hit.

No. 13. Jeff Gordon

The bad news? Gordon finished 34th. The good news? That video of him blasting through a cloud of dirt on pit road like he was running the Baja 1000 was awesome.

No. 14. Brad Keselowski

The fact that he's still within striking distance of the top 10 is amazing. If he's going to make a move toward the Chase it needs to start at Loudon, where he has three straight top-6 finishes. If not, well ...

No. 15. Jamie McMurray

Jamie Mac finished second at Kentucky and seventh at Daytona. Loudon might not be as fun, where he has just one top-10 since 2004. But Indy is just around the corner.

No. 16. Ryan Newman

A third consecutive Daytona top-10 boosted him to 16th in points, only 17 points out of 10th. In fact, 10th to 20th is separated by only 39 points. That's tighter than one of Marty Smith's T-shirts.

No. 17. Joey Logano

I was at the beach last week and saw one of those rubber-band slingshot rides that flings people super high and then way low in a wildly unpredictable manner. It made me think of Logano's season.

No. 18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

I've said all along that Stenhouse had a chance to make hay once the second half of the season arrived. Well, young man, it's here.

No. 19. Marcos Ambrose

Ambrose wasn't happy about wrecking a car that could've won, but he seemed to be a lot less angry at Jimmie Johnson than everyone in the Twitter-sphere wanted him to be.

No. 20. Casey Mears

In a fair world, there's no way Jeff Burton drops out after a 16th-place run. But it isn't often that I get to put a member of the Mears Gang in the Power Rankings. And by "isn't often" I mean never.