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Magic Mile Power Rankings - Week 6

Monday, April 8, 2013
Jimmie Johnson picked up his second win of the season on Sunday, but was it enough to take over the top spot in the Magic Mile Power Rankings? Photo: Getty Images

With two weeks between races, cooler heads prevailed on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, but that didn't take away from what was essentially bumper cars at over 120 miles per hour. Bumpers were cracked, quarter panels were dented and hoods were bent – and in the case of Martin Truex Jr., removed completely.

The only non-surprise on Sunday was Jimmie Johnson's dominance, as he led 346 of the 500 laps (69 percent) in the race en route to his eighth-career win at the half-mile oval. But was it enough to take over the top spot in the MMPR?

Here's a look at the Magic Mile Power Rankings* heading into Week 7 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 14:

1. Brad Keselowski - It was another strong week for the Penske Racing Ford, as Bad Brad recovered from a bad day in Fontana (23rd) for his fifth top-10 of the season, this one a sixth-place finish. The defending champion has gotten off to about as good a start as anyone could have imagined and has erased any thoughts of a post-championship hangover (and it might have been a long one given the size of that Miller Lite glass). Now, can he steer that Blue Deuce into Victory Lane? If not, the next driver on this list will take over this spot with ease.
Previous ranking: Second, +1
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 6

2. Jimmie Johnson - With ease. It looked easy for Five-Time on Sunday, dominating a track that he now owns a stupid-good 5.3 average finishing position. With two wins and another pair of top-10s, it's feasible to believe that JJ deserves the top spot. But Keselowski has been just a tad more consistent despite failing to take the checkers yet this year. Johnson is as close to a 1A as you can get and with two more strong tracks ahead on the schedule – Texas and Kansas – Keselowski will have his work cut out to keep that top spot.
Previous ranking: Fourth, +2
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 6

3. Kyle Busch -  Another solid day for the 18. His fifth-place finish at Martinsville was the eighth of his career at the Paper Clip, tied the most top-fives he has at a single Cup track without finding Victory Lane (he also has eight at Charlotte, where has also never won). Busch has found his groove of late, recording four straight top-fives, including a win two weeks ago in Southern California.
Previous ranking: Third, --
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 3

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Junior's decent in the MMPR is more of a testament of how good the top-three have been rather than a quick demotion for one bad race. There's no doubt that Junior has been one of the most consistent drivers this season, and Sunday's 24th-place finish at Martinsville is more of an abberation than indication of where this team is headed. That being said, you have to wonder how Junior will take to being passed by his teammate, the 48, under caution: "We know who our friends are out here," he said. Things could get interesting.
Previous ranking: First, -3
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 6

5. Kasey Kahne - It's official: KK is a championship contender, and yet he's still not even the second-best driver on his team right now. While a bit of backhanded compliment, last year's July race winner at the Magic Mile has gotten off to a brilliant start in his second season with Hendrick Motorsports, recording his fourth straight top-10, which includes two top-fives and a win three weeks ago at Bristol. A big reason for Kahne's strong start is his ability to qualify well. Kahne is averaging a series-best 5.8 average starting position despite not taking a pole yet this year.
Previous ranking: Seventh, +2
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 3

6. Matt Kenseth - With a 15.8 average finish in 27-career starts, Martinsville is one of Kenseth's worst tracks with just three-career top-fives. Entering Sunday, he led a total of 73 laps in his previous 26 starts. After Sunday, he boosted that number to 169 after leading the field for 96 laps. It was a right of passage for Kenseth, who now looks like a threat week in and week out under the Joe Gibbs Racing flagship.
Previous ranking: Fifth, -1
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 4

7. Greg Biffle - The Biff just goes about his business in a quiet, understated way. And that's why it's easy to miss the fact that he's been one of the top drivers in the field for the last three weeks. After an 11th-place finish at Bristol, Biffle has back-to-back top-10s. He also ranks fourth among all drivers with an 11.0 average finishing position and second in quality passes with 334. Not too shabby.
Previous ranking: Not ranked, +4
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 1

8. Carl Edwards - It's truly been an up-and-down season, so far, for Cousin Carl. If he's not in the top-five he's finishing no where near the front. And while a 15th-place finish on Sunday was nothing to sneeze at, he did believe to have a car that was capable of winning the race. Texas and Kansas are strong tracks for Edwards, though, so things are certainly looking up for the 99.
Previous ranking: Seventh, -1
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 5

9. Paul Menard - His first finish outside the top 10 in his last four starts, Menard has been a pleasant surprise so far in 2013 (although he is this writer's darkhorse to make this year's Chase). A better scope at how good he's been might be the fact that despite finishing 19th at Martinsville he still sits eighth in points. #Respect
Previous ranking: Eighth, -1
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 3

10. Jeff Gordon - Had Gordon not finished strong at Martinsville it might have officially been time to hit the panic button for the seven-time winner at the Paper Clip. But Gordon did race well, contending for the lead and eventually racing to a third, his best finish of the year. That isn't to say he isn't racing well, though, as he led 66 laps at Bristol before being taken out by Kenseth and had a top-five car at Fontana. The next two weeks should go a long way in determining just where this team is.
Previous ranking: Not Ranked, +1
Consecutive Weeks in MMPR: 1

Wave Around: Clint Bowyer - Great work by his pit crew allowed the 15 to contend toward the end of the race. Had it not been for a 35th at Fontana, it's a safe bet Bowyer would be on the lead lap and firmly inside the MMPR top 10.

Dropped out of the MMPR: Kurt Busch and Joey Logano.

*This list is comprised of drivers that compete in the Sprint Cup Series on full-time basis.

Previous Nos. 1
Week 1 - Jimmie Johnson
Week 2 - Jimmie Johnson
Week 3 - Brad Keselowski
Week 4 - Brad Keselowski
Week 5 - Dale Earnhardt Jr.