By Dustin Long
May 29, 2012
Charlotte Power Rankings

The weather is heating up and so is the competition for the top spot in this week's Power Rankings. There was a change at the top after Sunday's Coca-Cola 600, along with some movement throughout the rankings. With so many drivers running so well, it's becoming more difficult to rank them.

Here's this week's attempt. Remember, if you don't agree with it, have no fear; it likely will change after this weekend's race at Dover.

Greg Biffle
2012 wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 8
Biffle takes back the No. 1 spot after his fourth-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600, a race in which he led a race-high 204 laps. His performance at Charlotte shouldn't be a surprise. In the four points races on 1.5-mile tracks this season, he's won (Texas), finished third (Las Vegas), placed fourth (Charlotte) and captured fifth (Kansas).
Jimmie Johnson
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 8
A mistake on pit road might have cost him the race and the No. 1 ranking. Johnson left his pit stall while the fuel can was still attached, dragging it and the team's gasman out of the stall for a penalty. They say NASCAR is a team effort, well, the team performance, in this case, drops Johnson in these rankings.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 9
His sixth-place finish Sunday marked his seventh top-10 in the last eight points races. While he likes the consistency, the fact that he hasn't won yet gnaws at him. "We want to win a race," he said. "We want to win so bad we can't stand it. And we're getting kind of close. It feels good to be competitive. I don't want to take our consistency for granted, but we would like to improve just a little bit more and we'll get some wins."
Matt Kenseth
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 8
He had to make an extra pit stop for a loose wheel just past halfway and lost a lap. With so few cautions, he was never able to get it back and finished 10th. Still, he's placed in the top 10 in seven of the last nine points races.
Kasey Kahne
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 6
His victory marked his sixth consecutive top-10 finish (seventh if you include his finish in the All-Star Race). "To be at Hendrick Motorsports is just a dream come true," Kahne said after his win. After getting through his nightmarish start, he's showing just what he and his team can do.
Denny Hamlin
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 7
A runner-up finish at Charlotte marked his second consecutive second-place finish in a points race and his fourth top-five finish in the last five points races. Hamlin said that the car he drove Sunday was the first one designed by new crew chief Darian Grubb. A good sign for this team.
Kyle Busch
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 7
His hot streak continues. In the last month, he's finished first (Richmond), second (Talladega), fourth (Darlington and All-Star Race) and third (Coca-Cola 600). "We're definitely a contender each and every week," Busch said. "We're just not winners yet. I wish we knew what it was to get us to that point. There's just a little bit of something lacking -- whether it's speed or whether it's longevity in the runs. It seems like we can have one or the other and we have to put it all together."
Brad Keselowski
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 6
Another strong run to complete his two weeks of Charlotte. After finishing second in the All-Star Race, he placed fifth in the Coca-Cola 600. The key for him is to get into the top 10 in points to take advantage of those bonus points for wins entering the Chase. He is 11th in the point standings.
Tony Stewart
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 5
Charlotte was a forgettable two weeks for him. After being a non-factor in the All-Star Race (17th), he finished 25th in Sunday's race, three laps behind the leaders. Contact with Keselowski on pit road didn't help, but his problems were bigger than that. Since his win at Las Vegas, he's not fared well at the 1.5-mile tracks, placing 24th at Texas and 13th at Kansas before Sunday night's woes.
Rick Hendrick
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 26
In the last few weeks, he's watched Jimmie Johnson win the Southern 500 to give Hendrick Motorsports its 200th career Cup win, Johnson win the All-Star Race and Kasey Kahne complete the Charlotte sweep for Hendrick by winning the 600. Had Johnson not had a pit-road penalty, all four of his teams likely would have finished in the top 10 Sunday.

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