Magic Mile Power Rankings: Texas
Well, it's officially a two-horse race now. And depending on your perspective, the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship might be all but settled, as Jimmie Johnson dominated Sunday night's race at Texas Motor Speedway and put seven points between himself and Matt Kenseth with two races to go on the docket.
Johnson did everything a champion does on Sunday, and now looks nearly invincible. Kenseth might want to consider adding a little Kryptonite to his tank at Phoenix because Superman's cape is officially on.
Here's a look at the Magic Mile Power Rankings heading into Sunday's race at Phoenix International Raceway:
1. Jimmie Johnson - It was another dominant day for the 48. With 255 laps led on Sunday, Johnson looked right at home, holding off a hard-charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. to take the checkered flag for the sixth time this season. And given Johnson's average finishing history at the two remaining tracks - Phoenix (6.4 in 20 starts) and Homestead (15.3 in 12 starts) - his now seven-point lead over Matt Kenseth might as well be 100.
Previous ranking: Second, +1
2. Matt Kenseth - He did exactly what he needed to on Sunday, and that was drive away from Fort Worth with a top-five finish. But Johnson's max-points day certainly put a damper on Kenseth's fourth-place finish (his eighth top-five in his last 10 starts). He'll have his work to do over the next two weeks, that's for sure.
Previous ranking: First, -1
3. Kevin Harvick - And then there were two. A very respectable eighth-place finish Sunday, but the last of the long-shots is basically an also ran at this point, as Mr. Happy sits 40 points behind Johnson for the lead.
Previous ranking: Third, --
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Junior's second runner-up finish in three weeks, and third of the Chase, boosts the sport's most popular driver back into the top five in points. But with 62 points separating him from Johnson, it looks like all the 88 fans can hope for at this point is a win ... or a miracle.
Previous ranking: Sixth, +2
5. Clint Bowyer - Another admirable showing from Bowyer. His 10th-place finish at Texas gives him three in a row - not bad considering all this team's endured.
Previous ranking: Fifth, --
6. Jeff Gordon - Just like that, his season is over.
Previous ranking: Fourth, -2
7. Kyle Busch - Two straight weeks outside the top 10 has the 18 reeling. Will it ever happen for Rowdy or will he go down as the greatest driver to never win a championship?
Previous ranking: Seventh, --
8. Greg Biffle - The Biff looked solid on Sunday. But he faded to 12th. Oh well.
Previous ranking: Eighth, --
9. Joey Logano - This was by far the best race for the 22 in some time. He needs to finish strong over the next two weeks or the questions in 2014 won't be much different than they were going into every other season since he made the jump to Cup.
Previous ranking: 11th, +2
10. Kurt Busch - Ho-hum. 17th. Is it 2014 yet?
Previous ranking: 10th, --
11. Ryan Newman - Heck, the guy even led two laps on Sunday.
Previous ranking: 12th, +1
12. Carl Edwards - What's going on with the 99? Too much talent to struggle this much.
Previous ranking: Ninth, -3
13. Kasey Kahne - You'd think a fifth-place finish would vault you out of the cellar. You'd think ...
Previous ranking: 13th, --
Top Non-Chaser. Brad Keselowski - Another solid Chase race for the Blue Deuce, who, if nothing else, has shown that he's still got it. But will it carry over into 2014?