By Dustin Long
April 24, 2012
Kansas Power Rankings

Have you ever wanted to just start from scratch after you finish a project? That's what Kansas Speedway is doing. Shortly after Denny Hamlin's victory Sunday, work began on tearing the track up and preparing it for a repaving job that also will add variable banking in the corners.

The project will be completed well before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to that track in October during the title Chase.

While it was tempting to dramatically alter this week's Power Rankings -- and there are some changes -- Greg Biffle remains No. 1, but others are closing on him. And again, a new person pops up in 10th this week. Here's a look at this week's rankings as the series heads to Richmond.

Greg Biffle
2012 wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 6
He maintains his No. 1 spot with a fifth-place finish at Kansas. He has finished no worse than 13th in any race this season. He was 13th at Bristol because of a broken bump stop on the right-front shock late in the race, and he finished 13th at Martinsville, which is his weakest track. He wasn't spectacular at Kansas but scored another top-five finish, his fifth of the season.
Matt Kenseth
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 5
His third consecutive top-five finish -- and fourth in the last five races -- moves him ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. this week. Kenseth's five top-five finishes tie him with his teammate, Biffle, for most this season. Kenseth's top-fives have come at a variety of tracks. He won at Daytona (restrictor plate), finished second at Bristol, fourth at Martinsville (short tracks), fourth at Kansas and fifth at Texas (1.5-mile speedways). Variety is the spice of life for Kenseth this season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 6
His seventh-place finish at Kansas marked his fourth consecutive top-10 run. Only Martin Truex Jr. can top that. Earnhardt has finished no worse than 15th in any race this season. He showed speed and ran toward the front most of the race at Kansas. It seems like only a matter of time before he wins again, but at some point he and his team have to make it happen.
Martin Truex Jr.
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 6
Seemed headed to his first Cup victory since 2007 until his car's handling went away and Denny Hamlin took the lead with 31 laps remaining. Second isn't bad but when a driver dominates like Truex did (leading 173 of 267 laps), it doesn't feel good. Truex admitted he was disappointed with the result but noted how strong his team has been since late last year and how this will be a team to contend with all season. It's looking like that more and more.
Jimmie Johnson
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 6
Each week Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates hear questions about when they're going to give car owner Rick Hendrick his 200th career Cup victory -- he's sitting on 199 -- or how frustrating it's been to be so close and not win a race since October. Only way to end those questions is to win. Johnson was strong at Kansas, but when he had the chance, he couldn't pass Truex and that forced crew chief Chad Knaus to alter the team's strategy. It was good enough for third but the questions followed after the race.
Denny Hamlin
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 4
The thing about Hamlin's start to the season is that he says the team will get better. He said at Kansas that the team had yet to use a car built to new crew chief Darian Grubb's specifications. That they've already won twice modifying cars built before Grubb's arrival is impressive. Hamlin will again be a driver to watch this weekend when the series races at Richmond. He's won two of the last five races at his hometown track.
Kevin Harvick
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 5
The team still is showing speed in the car, but as Harvick noted on Twitter after Sunday's race, "mistakes" are holding back this team. Despite those mistakes, Harvick rallied to finish sixth after running out of fuel earlier in the race. After the race he wrote on Twitter: "Made some mistakes today but everyone kept it together for a solid finish! Cars are fast enough just have to keep pushing forward!"
Tony Stewart
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 3
How the mighty have fallen. Stewart drops five spots in the rankings after his second consecutive sub-par performance. He finished 24th at Texas the previous week and placed 13th at Kansas. Said Stewart: "[At Texas] it seemed like the further into the race we went, the further off balance we got. This week, we came and got better as we went."
Carl Edwards
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 5
Not a great performance at Kansas, but when the checkered flag flew, he was ninth. This team seems to be lacking some of the speed teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth have had this season. When the leaders began pitting under green early in Sunday's race, Edwards led a lap -- the first lap he's led all season. Work remains with this team. "That was a good effort," he said. "It wasn't a great result, but a really good effort."
Jeff Burton
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 2
Burton finished 22nd at Kansas for his fourth consecutive finish outside the top 20. So what's he doing in the Power Rankings? He's here because of his honesty. After the Kansas race, Burton tweeted to his 51,000-plus followers: "I would like to apologize to all of our fans. I know it's hard to watch. We will improve."

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