By Dustin Long
July 31, 2012
Indianapolis Power Rankings

The annual debate about if NASCAR should be at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, amid declining attendance there, can be put away for another year. Jimmie Johnson showed that one shouldn't ignore him in the championship race after his dominant victory Sunday. The previous three times Johnson won at Indy, he went on to win the championship. Along with his win, Johnson returns to No. 1 in the Power Rankings.

Jimmie Johnson
2012 wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 15
After reclaiming the top spot atop the Power Rankings, he doesn't plan on giving it up. "I feel that from a performance standpoint, we're as strong as we've ever been," said Johnson, who has seven finishes of seventh or better in the last eight races. "We've had issues late in a race that's cost us track position for a variety of reasons, and that's the part that we need to make sure is buttoned up before the Chase starts and carry that through the Chase. But from a performance standpoint, these are amazing race cars."
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 15
Drops out of the top spot only because Johnson won the race, but Earnhardt became the points leader with his fourth-place finish. That's all well and good, but Earnhardt had other thoughts after the race. "We need to win more races,'' he said. "If we want to win the championship, we have to. I imagine we can win a couple races in Chase. I don't know if finishing fourth or fifth is going to do it."
Denny Hamlin
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 11
Hamlin was stout early at Indianapolis before he lost several spots on a restart. He rallied to finish sixth. "We had about a fourth, fifth, sixth-place car and that's kind of where we ended up," Hamlin said. "Once I got back there, I was able to maintain and make up a little ground, but I wasn't going to go any further forward than where I was."
Brad Keselowski
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 10
Tried a different pit strategy than most during Sunday's race and led 22 laps. Needed a little extra time on pit road to fix a dinged right front fender (damaged in contact with Regan Smith) and had to settle for a ninth-place finish -- his fourth consecutive top-10 result. That's the longest active top-10 streak in the series. Said Keselowski after the race: "We had excellent pit strategy. I just made too many mistakes."
Matt Kenseth
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 13
Collected in a crash and finished a season-worst 35th. A model of consistency, Kenseth's worst finish had been 22nd this season. He hadn't placed outside the top 15 since March before Sunday.
Greg Biffle
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 12
Third-place finish at Indy marked his fourth top-10 run in the last six races. Not satisfied, Biffle said after the race: "We'll go back to the drawing board on what we got ... and keep working on it."
Kasey Kahne
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 10
Finished 12th at Indy and never was a factor after an incident on pit road. Said Kahne: "We started the race really good. I had a really fast car and came up through there. I got together with Joey Logano on pit road a little bit and that hurt my right-front fender and we never were fast the rest of the day." Kahne's finish snapped his three-race top-10 streak.
Tony Stewart
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 10
Battled to a 10th-place finish at Indy. He has five top-10 finishes in the last seven races. Said Stewart about his race: "We just didn't start the weekend off good enough. I will say that I'm really proud of Steve Addington, Greg Zipadelli and all of our engineers and everybody who worked hard (Saturday) night to make this car what it was. It was a lot better, but this is where we should have unloaded it instead of trying to be good for the race. We just gotta be better off the truck."
Kyle Busch
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 9
Runner-up finish was his second top-10 finish in the last four races. While the results haven't been stellar in each of the last four races, he's led 199 laps during that stretch. To compare, Sunday's winner, Jimmie Johnson, has led 122 laps in that same time.
Elliott Sadler
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 14
He was in position to win the inaugural Nationwide race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last weekend until series officials penalized him for passing leader Brad Keselowski before a late restart. Sadler argued he was pushed by teammate Austin Dillon past Keselowski and that Keselowski spun his tires on the restart. It didn't matter. Sadler served his penalty and finished 15th. He leads Dillon by one point in the title race. Said Sadler: "This is a tough one to swallow. We really wanted to win this inaugural race."

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)