Posted: Tuesday May 22, 2012 12:06PM ; Updated: Tuesday May 22, 2012 12:12PM
Dustin Long
Dustin Long>NASCAR POWER RANKINGS
All-Star Race Power Rankings

It was an All-Star Race unlike any other. The first three segment winners dropped to the back of the pack following their victories so as to avoid any trouble. Why not? They were guaranteed a top-four spot entering the final pit stop before the 10-lap shootout for the win and the $1-million prize.

After winning the first segment, Jimmie Johnson spent the next 60 laps at the back before taking the lead off the last pit stop and roaring to the victory. In honor of that, his team takes the first and last spots in this week's Power Rankings.

 
1
Jimmie Johnson
2012 wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 8
Days after he gave Hendrick Motorsports its 200th Cup victory at Darlington, his pit crew won the pit crew competition and then Johnson won the All-Star Race for a record-tying third time, matching Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt. Can it get any better? It just might for this team, which seems to be getting stronger each week and takes the No. 1 spot for the first time this season.
 
2
Matt Kenseth
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 7
His third-place finish in the All-Star Race marked Kenseth's fifth top-five and ninth top-10 in 12 All-Star appearances. Including the All-Star Race, Kenseth has placed sixth or better in six of his last seven starts.
 
3
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 8
He won the preliminary race to advance to the All-Star event and won a segment before finishing fifth. Said Earnhardt: "We had a good car, we had a fun weekend and good speed. I'm real happy with the way things look for next weekend.'' He nearly won last year's Coca-Cola 600 but lost the lead on the last corner of the last lap after he ran out of fuel. Will things be different this week?
 
4
Greg Biffle
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 7
At least this was a non-points race for Biffle, who saw his engine blow up during the All-Star Race. Teammate Carl Edwards suffered the same fate although earlier in the race. Counting the All-Star Race, Biffle has failed to finish in the top 10 in three of his last four starts. He needs a strong effort in the Coca-Cola 600 to break that trend and return to the way he was running earlier in the year.
 
5
Tony Stewart
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 5
Finished 17th in the All-Star Race and wasn't a factor. Just wasn't his night. If nothing else, the team learned what not to do at this weekend's Coca Cola 600.
 
6
Denny Hamlin
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 6
Finished 20th in the All-Star Race. This came after his pit crew lost to Johnson's team in the pit crew finals earlier in the week. This week presents a new opportunity for this team -- and a chance to forget last week.
 
7
Kyle Busch
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 6
Won the pole for the All-Star Race and finished fourth. In the last four races, he's finished first (Richmond), second (Talladega) and fourth (Darlington and All-Star Race). Can he keep it going?
 
8
Brad Keselowski
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 5
Finished second in the All-Star Race, and notched a victory in one of the four segments. Said Keselowski: "I think we're a really young team that's growing and getting better every week, every day and every hour. I think we're doing pretty good, but I want that one more spot."
 
9
Kasey Kahne
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 5
Continued his strong run of late by finishing ninth and nearly winning a segment. If you include the All-Star Race, he's had six consecutive top-10 finishes. Team seems to be building toward a win. When will it happen?
 
10
Chad Knaus
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 8
Don't be surprised if NASCAR changes the rules for next year's All-Star Race after Jimmie Johnson's crew chief found a way to exploit them this year. After Johnson won the first segment, he hung behind the pack for the next three segments to avoid trouble before retaking the lead before the final restart and winning the event. Matt Kenseth won the second segment and then followed Johnson's lead, noting: "They seem to know what they're doing and are pretty smart, so we kind of watched that too and kind of hung back as well."
 
 

 
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