By Dustin Long
May 08, 2012
Talladega Power Rankings

From Brad Keselowski's winning move that surprised Kyle Busch to Tony Stewart's unusual rant afterward, Talladega shuffled the order of things, as it usually does.

Nothing is immune from the pull of Talladega, including this week's Power Rankings, which features several drivers changing positions, two drivers entering the rankings and a breakthrough performance that earned the No. 10 ranking.

Greg Biffle
2012 wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 7
While change is the main topic this week, Biffle retains his No. 1 ranking with his fifth-place finish -- his sixth top-five performance in 10 starts. He has three top-five finishes in his last four starts, including a victory. It's hard to top that and so far, nobody can.
Matt Kenseth
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 6
Kenseth moves up a spot to the one formerly held by Dale Earnhardt Jr. after finishing third. Kenseth also has six top-five finishes, matching teammate Greg Biffle for most this season. Kenseth has four top-five finishes in his last five starts with the exception being an 11th-place finish at Richmond. Steady and strong just like Biffle.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 8
Finished ninth at Talladega but drops a spot in this week's rankings. Still, Earnhardt scored his sixth consecutive top-10 finish. He was third at Auto Club, third at Martinsville, 10th at Texas, seventh at Kansas, second at Richmond and ninth at Talladega. He just narrowly missed retaining second this week.
Tony Stewart
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 4
Stewart ran toward the front most of the day at Talladega before he was collected in a crash and finished 24th. He moves up three spots this week for how he ran before he wrecked and what he sarcastically said afterward: "I'm sorry we couldn't crash more cars. We didn't fill the quota. Honestly, I think if we haven't crashed at least 50 percent of the field by the end of the race, we need to extend the race until we at least crash 50 percent of the cars because it's not fair to these fans for them to not see any more than that and more torn up cars." That was just a sampling of what he thought -- read between the lines -- about the racing Sunday.
Denny Hamlin
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 5
Was strong Sunday until an incident with AJ Allmendinger late dropped him to 23rd. His position remains unchanged this week. He had placed 12th or better in his last five races before this hiccup.
Brad Keselowski
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 5
Although not in the top 10 in the point standings, he all but secured a spot in the Chase via the wild card (provided he doesn't fall out of the top 20) with his second victory of the season. For the first time in the last five Talladega races, the leader with one lap to go won the race. Keselowski did it with a crafty move in Turn 3 with Kyle Busch pushing him. Keselowski went high and then cut down the banking to break away from Busch. With the rest of the field too far back, Keselowski sailed to the win with a move he had been thinking and dreaming about.
Jimmie Johnson
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 7
He falls four spots after engine problems relegated him to 35th. Take away the restrictor-plate races (he was wrecked on the second lap at Daytona) and he'd had seven top-10 finishes in eight starts with the other finish a 12th. Don't underestimate this team.
Martin Truex Jr.
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 6
Has had two forgettable races in a row. He finished 25th at Richmond and placed 28th at Talladega after being caught in a crash. Had so much momentum before these two races. Needs to break this mini-slump and not let it grow.
Kyle Busch
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 5
It's been a tough year for him but he's showing signs of turning it around. After winning at Richmond, he finished second at Talladega. He's placed no worse than 11th in his last four races. His recent run earns him a spot in the rankings. He and Keselowski are new to the rankings this week, knocking out Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick.
Ricky Bobby
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 0
Yes, it was Talldega Nights star Ricky Bobby who said, "If you ain't first, you're last," but, there's nothing wrong with being last in these rankings. He can thank Kurt Busch for this. Busch's team didn't have a sponsor for Talladega, so he convinced the team to paint his car to resemble Bobby's ride from the movie. Busch even had a driver's uniform that looked like Bobby's and he proceeded to drop movie lines with this team on the radio during the race. For his influence six years after the movie Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby makes this week's rankings.

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