By Dustin Long
November 06, 2012
Texas Power Rankings

Another race, another strong run overlooked. But this time, it was the two title contenders racing neck-and-neck in the final laps that diverted attention away from the driver deserving of applause. Ironically, that same driver only a couple of days earlier said that while the championship contenders deserved attention, "it would be nice to get a pat on the back every once in a while" after a good run.

Can't award him the No. 1 spot in the Power Rankings, but Kyle Busch, the man who made those comments, can have the satisfaction of being the biggest mover in this week's rankings -- he climbs three spots to fourth after his third-place finish Sunday.

Yet, he still trails...

Jimmie Johnson
2012 wins: 5
2012 Top-10s: 24
Last week's rank: 1
There was no denying Johnson at Texas as he battled Brad Keselowski in the final laps to score his second consecutive victory from the pole. The victory was Johnson's 22nd career win in the Chase -- twice as many as the next driver with the most Chase wins (Tony Stewart has 11). Afterward, Johnson said, "We're still going to go into Phoenix and act as if we're behind, and go in there to try to sit on the pole and win the race again." Johnson's average Chase finish is 4.9.
Brad Keselowski
2012 Wins: 5
2012 Top-10s: 22
Last week's rank: 2
Keselowski lost the lead with two laps to go on the final restart and had to settle for second place. "I had to choose between wrecking him and winning the race and it didn't seem right to wreck 'em," Keselowski said after the race. "Ran 'em hard and we're going to keep him honest. I know if we keep running like this that we won't be beat." Keselowski's runner-up finish marked his 16th top-10 finish in the last 18 races. His average finish in the Chase is 5.3, just below Johnson.
Clint Bowyer
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 22
Last week's rank: 3
Bowyer's sixth-place finish was his eighth top-10 finish in the last nine races. Bowyer often runs well in the Chase but he'll need help to get by Johnson and Keselowski the next two weeks. "It's fun to be racing for the championship, but I'm more proud of where we're at contending for that championship [and] winning three races our first year together," Bowyer said.
Kyle Busch
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 18
Last week's rank: 7
He's not even battling for the championship in the Chase, but Busch isn't backing down. He overcame a slow pit stop early to score a third-place finish at Texas -- his third top-three finish in the Chase -- and on top of that, he's finished in the top 10 in five of the last six races. "These last 10 weeks have been pretty good," Busch said. "We've run well. We've shown speed."
Matt Kenseth
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 19
Last week's rank: 8
Kenseth had a typical where-did-he-come-from performance to finish fourth after running outside the top 10 until about 100 laps to go. "It was Jimmy [Fennig] and those guys that made some really good decisions for adjustments and pit stops, and we had some fairly decent restarts and got back in it," Kenseth said of his crew chief. "I didn't think we would ever be standing here with a top-five the way our day started. We started way off and these guys never gave up."
Jeff Gordon
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 17
Last week's rank: 6
Gordon was headed for a strong run until a tire went down and he had to pit early. Caution soon followed further messing up Gordon's day, and he did all he could do to come back and finish 14th, marking only the third time in the last 11 races he's finished outside the top 10.
Kasey Kahne
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 18
Last week's rank: 4
Kahne ran in the top 10 most of the race until encountering problems and finished 25th after getting into the wall late. Still, he's fourth in the points and is on his way to his career-best finish in Cup, topping his eighth-place finish in the points in 2006.
Tony Stewart
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 16
Last week's rank: N/A
Stewart's fifth-place finish was his second top-five in the last three races. "What an awesome, awesome comeback," Stewart said. "The set-up that we ended up running in the race we had six laps on at the end of happy hour. I'm just so proud of everybody on the pit crew on the pit stops. The last two stops got us a lot of track position."
Denny Hamlin
2012 Wins: 5
2012 Top-10s: 16
Last week's rank: 5
Hamlin's had a rough couple of weeks. After finishing 33rd at Martinsville last week because of an electrical issue, he finished 20th at Texas. Remember when he was leading the points at the start of the Chase?
Elliot Sadler
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 25
Last week's rank: N/A
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2012 Wins: 6
2012 Top-10s: 24
Last week's rank: N/A
The challengers for the Nationwide title enter the final two races of the season tied in the points after Stenhouse finished fourth at Texas and Sadler placed 11th. The series heads to Phoenix where Sadler won and Stenhouse finished third in March.

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