By Dustin Long
October 30, 2012
Martinsville Power Rankings

As the end of the season nears, it was only a matter of time before Jimmie Johnson climbed to No. 1 in the Power Rankings; he bypassed Brad Keselowski with his win Sunday at Martinsville. Now that the top spot in the Power Rankings has changed for a third time this Chase, the question is: can Johnson stay No. 1 with three races left?

Jimmie Johnson
2012 wins: 4
2012 Top-10s: 23
Last week's rank: 2
Johnson charges to the top of the Power Rankings with his victory at Martinsville, giving him four top-three finishes in seven Chase races. What stood out about his run at Martinsville was that his performance met expectations, leading the most laps en route to his seventh career win at that track. "We have to be the best to be the champions," Johnson said. "I think we're showing we're in form and ready to do that."
Brad Keselowski
2012 Wins: 5
2012 Top-10s: 21
Last week's rank: 1
Keselowski decided not to pit with 23 laps to go, moved into the lead but fell back because he was on older tires, finishing sixth. It was a gamble that, in the end, likely didn't hurt him too much considering where he was running at the time. With the series heading to Texas (a 1.5-mile speedway), Keselowski has two wins in the last six races on 1.5-mile speedways. Time to make his move.
Clint Bowyer
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 21
Last week's rank: 4

Bowyer's fifth-place finish at Martinsville marked his seventh top-10 finish in the last eight races. Before Sunday, where he led 154 laps, he had only led only 93 laps in his career at Martinsville. The finish helps him pad his top-10 finishes, which is a career high (previous high was 18 in 2010).

Kasey Kahne
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 18
Last week's rank: 5
Third-place finish at Martinsville was Kahne's best there since placing second in 2005. After the race, he tweeted, "Thanks to [Hendrick Motorsports] for making me look like I kinda can drive at Martinsville. Felt great to get a top 3." Kahne has been roll lately with five top-10s in the last seven races, including four top-five finishes.
Denny Hamlin
2012 Wins: 5
2012 Top-10s: 16
Last week's rank: 3
Where to start with Hamlin's Martinsville race? He was caught for speeding twice on pit road. He rallied back through the field both times until the master control switch failed and his car stopped on the track. After repairs he returned to the race, finished 33rd and watched his title hopes blow out the window.
Jeff Gordon
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 17
Last week's rank: 6
As expected Gordon was strong at Martinsville, finishing seventh to post his 14th top-10 finish in the last 19 races. It was his 32nd career top-10 finish at the track in 40 Sprint Cup starts.
Kyle Busch
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 18
Last week's rank: N/A
Busch came back from a spin to finish second and continue his strong run in the Chase. He's now scored more points during the Chase than seven of the title contenders with his five top-10 Chase finishes.
Matt Kenseth
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 18
Last week's rank: 8
In the last four races, Kenseth has finished first, 14th, first and 14th; that could be a good sign for this weekend at Texas. He won the most recent race on a 1.5-mile speedway (at Kansas) so maybe he can continue that streak of finishes with another victory.
Martin Truex Jr.
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 18
Last week's rank: 9

Truex was penalized for passing on a restart just before the halfway mark, fell a lap down and couldn't recover, finishing 23rd. This team has been consistent this season and his Martinsville finish was his worst since placing 28th at Talladega in April.

Last week's rank: N/A
In a season where fans have wanted more cautions, they've gotten it the last two weeks. Kansas had a series-high 14 cautions and Sunday's race at Martinsville had 11 cautions.

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