By Dustin Long
August 21, 2012
Michigan Power Rankings

Jimmie Johnson lost more than a victory when his engine blew with five laps left in Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway -- he also lost the top spot in this week's Power Rankings. His fall creates a new No. 1 for the first time in three weeks.

Brad Keselowski
2012 wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 13
Keselowski takes over the top spot for the first time all season after finishing second at Michigan. It marked his seventh consecutive top-10 finish of the season, tying for the longest streak this season set by Kasey Kahne. "I can taste the legitimacy of being a championship contender," Keselowski said. "[Jimmie Johnson] has the most speed and the best history as far as the Chase is concerned, but it's my job to not roll over and give it to them."
Jimmie Johnson
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 16
If Johnson didn't blow an engine with five laps to go Sunday, he would have won Michigan and remained on top of the Power Rankings. The last few weeks he's shown he has the strongest car, but his finishes at the last two oval races do not reflect that. He had a flat at Pocono that caused him to get into Matt Kenseth on a late restart as they fought for the lead and finished 14th. Then the motor issue at Michigan -- we all know how that ended. Still, he has a very strong team that every other competitor should be worried about.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 16
Junior finished fourth, a position he's familiar with (he's finished fourth in three of the last five races), in a backup car at Michigan after tagging the wall in practice. Outside of his fourth place finishes, he placed 32nd at Pocono after transmission issues and 28th at Watkins Glen after spinning late. On Sunday Earnhardt said, "I feel like I was under pressure to just not make any more mistakes. I spun out twice in the last two weeks on my own and that's something I try not to have happen and try not to have that kind of reputation."
Greg Biffle
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 14
Sunday's race winner, who also grabbed the points lead, said he's looking for more. "I know that a lot of people don't expect us to win the championship and don't expect us to compete for the title, but I don't care what they say or who they want to talk about or what they want to talk about," Biffle said after his win Sunday. "We will be a factor when it comes down to Homestead. I promise you that."
Kasey Kahne
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 12
Kahne finished third despite spinning earlier in the race trying to avoid an incident in front of him. The third-place finish was the fourth time in the last seven races Kahne has finished in the top three. "I slid through the grass, thought it destroyed my car," Kahne said. "Fortunately it just pushed the right front fender in. The guys were able to pop it up out."
Matt Kenseth
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 14
A flat tire late forced Kenseth to make an extra stop and denied him a chance for a much better finish than 17th. "We kept getting stuck in the wrong lane on restarts, and had some sub-par pit stops and had a flat tire and just couldn't recover from that," Kenseth said.
Martin Truex Jr.
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 13
Truex Jr.'s 10th-place finish Sunday was his fourth consecutive top-10 finish. He was strong early and then lost track position and never could get back toward the front. Team is good but until it wins, it's hard to consider it to be much of a title threat.
Clint Bowyer
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 13
A seventh-place finish in Michigan was his fourth top-10 finish in the last five races. Go back further and his record remains impressive with eight top-10 finishes in the last 11 races.
Denny Hamlin
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 11
He finished 11th at Michigan, which doesn't seem like much until one considers the struggles this team has had -- he's placed 25th or worse in five of the last nine races. "We were a 15th or 20th-place car most of the day and through attrition and what not, we got a good finish," Hamlin said. "We definitely have a lot of work to do I feel like on all aspects of our car right now."
Paul Wolfe
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 13
The crew chief for Brad Keselowski has played a key role in the team's success; they have solid stragety, and Wolfe has built a strong group that seems to be running its best now. The key is to keep that type of performance going once the Chase begins next month.

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