By Dustin Long
May 01, 2012
Richmond Power Rankings

There weren't many cautions at Richmond, but the race didn't lack for controversy, from Carl Edwards' penalty for jumping a restart to a late-race debris caution that helped Kyle Busch win the race.

Unlike the confusion some had with the lineup when Edwards was penalized -- his spotter claimed on the radio that he was informed by a NASCAR official that Edwards was the leader, not Stewart -- there's no confusion with the order in these Power Rankings.

Greg Biffle
2012 wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 6
Biffle had his worst performance of the season, finishing 18th at Richmond. The performance was barely enough to keep Dale Earnhardt Jr. from taking the top spot in the rankings. Difference is Biffle's win and that he's finished higher than Earnhardt in five of the nine races this season. Even though he was a non-factor at Richmond, Biffle continued an impressive streak. Going back to late last season, he's finished outside the top 20 only once in the last 16 races.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 7
A runner-up finish at Richmond helps him climb a spot in the rankings and nearly move into the top spot -- which he could take after this weekend at Talladega if things go right for him. He's riding a series-high wave of five consecutive top-10 finishes, including three top-fives during that stretch. He has not finished worse than 15th this season.
Jimmie Johnson
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 7
Consider this: The only two times he failed to finish in the top 10 this year came in the Daytona 500, when he was wrecked on the second lap, and at Martinsville, when he was spun on a late restart in a three-way battle for the lead. There are still some flaws -- the pit-road penalty exposed an area that has been a struggle for this team at times in the past -- but this is a team that seems ready to win soon.
Matt Kenseth
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 5
An 11th-place finish at Richmond snapped his streak of three consecutive top-five finishes. That would be a good run for Kenseth at Talladega where the series heads this week. He has not finished better than 14th in his last 10 races there.
Denny Hamlin
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 5
Hamlin finished fourth at his hometown track as teammate Kyle Busch won Richmond's spring race for a fourth consecutive year. He was strong at times but never led a lap. Still some work to do with this team, but Hamlin has not finished worse than 12th in the last five races. Seems to be a team on the rise.
Martin Truex Jr.
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 6
Truex had his worst finish of the season, placing 25th at Richmond. It's also his worst finish in the last 15 races, dating back to late last season. He was never a factor Saturday night and drops two spots in the rankings for the performance.
Tony Stewart
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 4
Stewart was headed toward his third victory of the season when a late debris caution for what he said was a water bottle bunched the field. Lost the lead on pit road and had to settle for third, which didn't leave him in a great mood. What should be of greater concern is his inconsistent season. He has had back-to-back top-10 finishes only once this season.
Carl Edwards
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 6
Undone by a penalty for jumping the restart, Edwards finished 10th at Richmond, but he did at least lead laps. Edwards had led one lap all season entering the race but led a race-high 206 laps on Saturday. Now, he just needs to lead the last lap, something he hasn't done in the last 42 races.
Kevin Harvick
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 5
He's had fast cars but recent mistakes have plagued this team. A slow pit stop hurt him and an ill-handling car relegated him to a 19th-place finish. Certainly, it's better to make mistakes now than during the Chase, but, at some point, the mistakes have to stop.
Ryan Blaney
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 1 (in one start)
The 18-year-old son of Dave Blaney made his Nationwide debut on Friday at Richmond and finished seventh, taking some of the spotlight away from Travis Pastrana, who also was making his first series start and finished 22nd. Blaney is scheduled to run next at Darlington.

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