By Dustin Long
October 02, 2012
Dover Power Rankings

Brad Keselowski’s smart drive won the race at Dover, moved him into the points lead and placed him atop the Power Rankings. Now, he has seven more races to navigate before he can claim his first NASCAR Sprint Cup title. The path won’t be easy with who's chasing him.

Brad Keselowski
2012 wins: 5
2012 Top-10s: 19
Last week's rank: 2
Keselowski's second victory in the Chase obviously helped him take back the top spot from Jimmie Johnson, but consider his record in the last 13 races (dating back to his win at Kentucky in late June): He’s won three races, scored eight top-five finishes and had 12 top-10 runs in that span. His average finish during that streak is 6.1. That, combined with his Chase performances, deems him worthy of the Rankings' top spot.
Jimmie Johnson
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 20
Last week's rank: 1
He's started the Chase by finishing second, second and fourth. Normally that would be good enough for the top spot in the Power Rankings, but Keselowski's run is better. Not surprisingly, when Sunday's race at Dover came down to fuel mileage, it did not end in Johnson's favor -- he and his team have never been strong with stretching fuel mileage.
Denny Hamlin
2012 Wins: 5
2012 Top-10s: 15
Last week's rank: 3

Hamlin found out love hurts. Ahead of the race, the sports psychologist Hamlin consults told him to love the Dover track, a track Hamlin admitted was his worst in the Chase. Hamlin seemed to have embraced that mindset and was headed for his best finish at that track until having to pit in the final laps because he was short on fuel. He lost a chance to win and he lost a chance to gain points on Keselowski and Johnson. Yes, love hurts.

Clint Bowyer
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 18
Last week's rank: 4
Don't overlook this driver in the Chase, especially with the series heading to Talladega where Bowyer has won the past two fall races there. His ninth-place finish at Dover marked Bowyer's fourth consecutive top-10 finish. He's had eight top-10s in the last nine races.
Jeff Gordon
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 14
Last week's rank: 8
One has to wonder where Gordon might be if not for that stuck throttle which caused him to crash at Chicagoland Speedway in the opening race in the Chase. A runner-up finish at Dover marked Gordon's fifth top-three finish in the last six races -- the one blemish being the Chicago race. If only...
Kasey Kahne
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 15
Last week's rank: 5
Seemed headed for a solid run until he had to pit late for what he thought was a loose wheel and then return because of a missing lug nut. It's the little mistakes like these that will cost teams championships. Instead of a top-10 result Sunday, Kahne finished 15th -- his worst finish in the last four races -- and fell to sixth in the point standings.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 18
Last week's rank: 7
Hard to get excited about an 11th-place finish, especially when six Chase drivers finished ahead of him, but considering how much the team struggled earlier in the weekend, there was reason to not be as downcast. Still, if Earnhardt wants to challenge for a championship, he and his team must be stronger.
Tony Stewart
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 14
Last week's rank: 6
Dover's hold on Stewart continued. His 20th-place finish marked the fifth consecutive race Stewart has placed 20th or worse at Dover, the track which nearly derailed his title hopes last year. The question is if he can recover from Sunday's lackluster result.
Joey Logano
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 11
Last week's rank: N/A
His 10th-place finish marked his third consecutive top-10 run this season -- his longest such streak of the season. Brad Keselowski encouraged Penske Racing to hire Logano to drive the No. 22 starting next season and Logano's showing what he can do.
Roger Penske
2012 Wins: 5
2012 Top-10s: 22
Last week's rank: N/A
For all that he's accomplished in auto racing, Penske still does not yet have a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Brad Keselowski gave Penske his first NASCAR title when he won the Nationwide crown in 2010, and now he's seven weeks away from giving Penske his first Cup title, doing it in the final season with Dodge.

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