By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on March 11, 2014 | 8:51 A.M. EST
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s runner-up finish at Las Vegas keeps him atop Pete Pistone's Power Rankings. (Photo: Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued his early season success with another good day at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to remain on top of this week's Power Rankings:
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: There's a difference when a driver settles for a second-place finish vs. when he tries for a win only to come up one position short. That's exactly what happened with Earnhardt Sunday in Las Vegas when his hopes of stretching fuel to the checkered flag was just a half lap off.
Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 125.8
Point Standings: 1st
Previous Ranking: 1st
2. Brad Keselowski: The 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion is off to a torrid start and scored his first career Las Vegas Cup win on Sunday. with a victory now hand and a Chase spot virtually assured, Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe may be a tough to beat in the coming weeks.
Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 122.5
Point Standings: 2nd
Previous Ranking: 3rd
3. Joey Logano: Another solid outing for Logano, who started the weekend with a pole-winning performance. There's a great deal of speed these days with the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford and Logano has the look of a driver close to making a trip to Victory Lane.
Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 112.7
Point Standings: 4th
Previous Ranking: 7th
4. Kevin Harvick: Followed up his Phoenix win with a strong outing until a hub issue sent Harvick to the garage before returning several laps down. Harvick has by far been the best of the struggling Stewart-Haas Racing organization.
Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.1
Point Standings: 14th
Previous Ranking: 2nd
5. Jimmie Johnson: A quiet start to 2014 at least by Johnson's standards. Has been inside the top 10 in all three races of the season but surprisingly didn't challenge for a win Sunday in Vegas.
Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 112.6
Point Standings: 3rd
Previous Ranking: 4th
6. Jeff Gordon: Gordon has kicked off the season with three straight appearances inside the top 10 and had another solid effort Sunday in Las Vegas. As always, he should be a factor this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 104.5
Point Standings: 5th
Previous Ranking: 5th
7. Carl Edwards: Scored a fifth-place Las Vegas finish to again lead the Roush Fenway Racing charge. Edwards has put together a consistent start to the new year.
Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.6
Point Standings: 6th
Previous Ranking: 8th
8. Ryan Newman: Another nice performance from Newman on Sunday in Las Vegas to go along with Richard Childress Racing teammate Paul Menard's third-place finish. Nothing spectacular yet for Newman but good steady runs the last two weeks.
Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 84.4
Point Standings: 9th
Previous Ranking: 10th
9. Matt Kenseth: The defending Kobalt 400 race winner managed a 10th-place finish Sunday. Still work to do on the 1.5-mile package, which was the bread and butter last year for this team.
Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 93.6
Point Standings: 7th
Previous Ranking: 9th
10. Denny Hamlin: Nothing special for Hamlin in Las Vegas but a 12th-place finish was not a terrible day. The Joe Gibbs Racing team is looking to step things up in the next few races.
Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 92.3
Point Standings: 8th
Previous Ranking: 6th