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: Joey Logano
Dropped out: Kasey Kahne
|1||0||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||1||Best start to his career. His 2nd at Phoenix proved two things weren't true: A) Winning (and ostensibly clinching a Chase spot) would cause guys to relax; and B) Daytona was a fluke.|
|2||3||Brad Keselowski||0||Phoenix also backed up the notion that the new points system is creating harder racing. This might be the guy who benefits most. That, and the new qualifying rules, bode well for Brad.|
|3||1||Jimmie Johnson||0||Docking Six-time a spot after running in the top ten all day feels dirty, but here we are. It's only two weeks in, but you can already feel Chad Knaus seething that No. 48 is winless.|
|4||6||Kevin Harvick||1||That's what the good ol' boys like to call a whoopin'. (Insert Jimmy Johns/Freaky Fast joke here.) Happy Harvick just might make 2014 what Matt Kenseth did 2013 with a new team.|
|5||2||Matt Kenseth||0||Finished 12th at Phoenix. That may seem average after his 2013, but considering the abomination that was his last Phoenix race, I'm sure the 2003 Cup champ will take it.|
|6||2||Denny Hamlin||0||Had a very pedestrian Phoenix after running so well at Daytona, finishing 19th. Early roller coasters aren't indicative of systemic problems, and I'd expect Hamlin to be a force soon.|
|7||1||Kyle Busch||0||Was a fixture in the top 10 on Sunday, but could never really make a challenge. He, like Keselowski, figures to be one to watch late in races under this new points system.|
|8||1||Jeff Gordon||0||Last time Gordon started a season with two top fives? 1997. He also happened to win 10 races and a championship that season. Don't rule out an Elway-in-1998 season here.|
|9||1||Greg Biffle||0||Not a great Phoenix trip for Biffle, who finished 17th. Feels kind of like put-up or shut-up time for he and that No. 16 team at this point in his career.|
|10||N/R||Joey Logano||0||The move to Penske absolutely re-energized the former phenom's young career. He's been a threat to win at both Daytona and Phoenix, and should be next week at Las Vegas, too.|