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Keselowski climbing up as Hamlin falls down NASCAR Power Rankings

Watkins Glen Power Rankings

A wild last lap at Watkins Glen shuffled the expected finish, and also impacted this week's Power Rankings. Jimmie Johnson remains atop the standings, showing the form that has led him to five previous titles, but plenty of time remains for others, such as Brad Keselowski, to catch him.

 
1
Jimmie Johnson
2012 wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 16
Johnson finished third at Watkins Glen, which marked his sixth top-five finish in the last 10 races. Many drivers would take six top-10 finishes in that stretch, and Johnson upped that, finishing in the top five. He also took over the points lead after Watkins Glen for the first time this season. It?s hard to find many weaknesses with this team a month before the Chase begins.
 
2
Brad Keselowski
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 12
This runner-up finish was his series-high sixth consecutive top-10 finish, and moves him up a spot in this week's rankings. He's hot at about the same time he was last year when he rallied to take a Chase wildcard spot and then was strong throughout the Chase. Might this be a sign of what's to come?
 
3
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 15
Seemed headed for a top-10 finish before a late spin and a pit stop to replace his flat-spotted tires dropped him to 28th. That also dropped him a spot in these rankings. His finish marked the first time this season he's placed outside the top 10 in back-to-back races, and he's finished outside the top 10 in three of the last five races. Not to worry, the Cup series is at Michigan this weekend, where Earnhardt won in June. Can he sweep?
 
4
Matt Kenseth
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 14
He broke a string of three consecutive finishes outside the top 10 with an eighth-place finish. "I'm glad we got a top 10," Kenseth said. "The last two weeks have been tough for us because we got wrecked out of both of them."
 
5
Kasey Kahne
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 11
He remains in position to grab one of the two wild card spots in the Chase with four races left because of his two victories. Finished 13th at Watkins Glen -- his worst finish in the last six races.
 
6
Greg Biffle
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 13
Sixth-place finish marks his third top-10 result in the last four races. But it could have been higher -- he lost a couple of spots after hitting oil on the last lap.
 
7
Denny Hamlin
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 11
An awful weekend at Watkins Glen for Hamlin ?- he wrecked in practice, and then the engine blew in his backup car during the race and finished 34th. It marked his second consecutive DNF and his fourth of the season. All four DNFs have come in the last eight races. His four DNFs this season equal the total number of races he failed to finish in the previous two seasons combined.
 
8
Tony Stewart
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 11
Stewart nearly overcame a pit road penalty to climb into the lead, but then spun while running near the front and finished 19th. It's only the second time he's placed outside the top 15 in the last nine races.
 
9
Kyle Busch
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 10
He was set to win at Watkins Glen until he ran through the oil in the first turn of the final lap and slid up the track. That allowed Brad Keselowski to make a move -- they hit and Busch spun, ending his chances for the victory, which would strengthen his position for a wildcard spot in the Chase.
 
10
NASCAR Officials
You can't call what you don't see. Series officials said they saw smoke from Bobby Labonte's car at the end of the race but their spotters didn't see oil on the track. Winner Marcos Ambrose said it the oil was hard to spot since it was "almost like a fine spray" instead of a black streak. Since series officials didn't see the oil, no caution was called, allowing Ambrose and Keselowski to duel for the win.
 
 
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