NASCAR Power Rankings: 2014 Week 1

Following the Daytona 500 and headed to Phoenix, the 10 best are ranked

Published: February 24 2014 | 6:35 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 4:06 am in The Inside Track by Jeremiah Davis,

Welcome to the Inside  Track's NASCAR Power Rankings. Each week of the Sprint Cup season, the Gazette's Jeremiah Davis will rank the series' top 10 drivers.

Think the list should be different? Tweet him at @jeremiahdavis10, or comment in the comments section.

New this week: Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon

Dropped out:  Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart

1Dale Earnhardt Jr.0Who else? The sport's most popular driver won the sport's biggest race in prime time. His genuine joy and celebration after his second Daytona 500 win is why so many people love him.
2Jimmie Johnson0Six-time got a bunch of tweets and texts congratulating him on his second 500 win...because people were confused when Fox aired last year's race during the rain delay.
3Matt Kenseth0Finished sixth and ran up front all day. It's no coincidence, either, as the 2003 champ has two Daytona 500 wins and is consistently a force at restrictor plate tracks.
4Denny Hamlin0Had the most dominant Speedweeks overall, winning the Sprint Unlimited and his Gatorade Duel, then running second to Jr. Great results, but a bitter pill to swallow Sunday night.
5Brad Keselowski0Next to Dale Jr., the retro Miller Lite car was the strongest in the field for much of the day. The 2012 champ was happy for his former boss, but visibly frustrated he didn't win.
6Kyle Busch0Led 19 laps and ran up front all day before the melee at the end. Busch's luck at Daytona is akin to mine at the casino: always close, but end up crabby and wondering why you went.
7Kasey Kahne0Another strong car that go caught up in a wreck. Seems to be the theme for Kahne -- run really well and have a chance to win or end up on the hook.
8Greg Biffle0Challenged for the lead in a big way towards the end of the race, swapping the top spot with Dale Jr. prior to all the carnage. The Biff is in a contract year, so watch out.
9Jeff Gordon0Junior Nation had plenty of love for the four-time champ after the race. Gordon pushed his teammate to a great restart, then had to fight back to fourth at the end.
10Kevin Harvick0Despite sparking the wreck on the final lap by losing control, Harvick had a solid debut with his Stewart-Haas team. They were fast all Speedweeks, and seemed to work well together.


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