By Dustin Long
September 25, 2012
Loudon Power Rankings

There were no mistakes for Denny Hamlin’s team this time. A week after running out of fuel at the end of the Chicago race to open the Chase, Hamlin scored an easy victory at New Hampshire. While he climbed in the Power Rankings, it wasn’t enough to take the top spot. He’s getting closer but he has more work to do before he reaches No. 1.

Jimmie Johnson
2012 wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 19
Last week's rank: 2
Johnson reclaims the top spot with a runner-up finish Sunday at New Hampshire. Has placed second in each of the first two Chase races and series heads to Dover where Johnson has four wins in the last seven races, including earlier this year. "When you get to the Chase, you need to execute on your great tracks and get the results you should there," Johnson said. So far, so good.
Brad Keselowski
2012 Wins: 4
2012 Top-10s: 17
Last week's rank: 1
Sixth-place finish wasn't good enough to retain the top spot, but Keselowski remains solidly in second. New Hampshire run was his 11th top-10 finish in the last 12 races. Again pit strategy played a key role. While many of the leaders changed four tires on their last stop, crew chief Paul Wolfe had the pit crew change only two, helping Keselowski gain a few positions. "I didn't think we were as strong as we wanted to be, but the guys on my team made something out of it," he said.
Denny Hamlin
2012 Wins: 5
2012 Top-10s: 14
Last week's rank: 7

Hamlin's dominant win makes him this week's biggest riser in the Power Rankings. The victory was his third in the last five races. "I knew once we got to about lap 50 and started working our way to sixth, seventh position, I knew that we had the winning car," said Hamlin, who led 193 of 300 laps.

Clint Bowyer
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 17
Last week's rank: 5
Bowyer's fourth-place finish was his seventh top-10 finish in the last eight races. "We're still in the thing -- just got to keep these solid finishes coming," Bowyer said.
Kasey Kahne
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 15
Last week's rank: 4
Kahne snagged a fifth-place finish -- his fourth top-10 finish in the last six races. "We have been pretty consistent so far," Kahne said. "Hopefully, we can keep it going and get a little faster."
Tony Stewart
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 14
Last week's rank: 6
Stewart couldn't repeat as the winner of the New Hampshire Chase race, but his seventh-place finish keeps him in the title hunt. The finish was his third consecutive top-10 run.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 18
Last week's rank: 3
Earnhardt stopped too deep into pit stall on first stop and he couldn't recover from the slow stop for the rest of the race. Two-tire strategy late helped him gain a few spots and salvage a 13th-place finish.
Jeff Gordon
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 13
Last week's rank: N/A
Gordon climbs back into the Power Rankings with his third-place finish at New Hampshire. He's placed in the top three in four of the last five races. "We are just going to fight from here on out and try to get someconsistent finishes and win races and fight and battle," Gordon said.
Kevin Harvick
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 11
Last week's rank: N/A
Consistency lands Harvick back into the Power Rankings, as both Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch fall out this week. Harvick's 11th-place finish marked the fourth consecutive finish of 12th or better.
Darian Grubb
2012 Wins: 5
2012 Top-10s: 14
Last week's rank: N/A
Could he be the crew chief of the year in the Sprint Cup Series? Grubb helped Denny Hamlin to his fifth win of the season, and going back to the start of last year's Chase, Grubb has been the winning crew chief in 10 of the last 38 races. No one else can match that.

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