Posted: Tuesday October 16, 2012 4:46PM ; Updated: Tuesday October 16, 2012 4:46PM
Dustin Long
Dustin Long>NASCAR POWER RANKINGS

Leaders closing in on Keselowski, who finishes outside the top 10

Story Highlights

Brad Keselowski ran out of fuel, but still keeps top spot for the third straight week

Clint Bowyer climbs to fourth after winning his third race of the season at Charlotte

Joey Logano finishes top-10 for fourth time in five races for best streak of season

Charlotte Power Rankings

Running out fuel cost Brad Keselowski a shot at winning last weekend's race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but it didn't cost him the No. 1 spot in the Power Rankings. Keselowski holds on to the top spot but his title foes are closing the gap.

 
1
Brad Keselowski
2012 wins: 5
2012 Top-10s: 19
Last week's rank: 1
Keselowski led a race-high 139 laps at Charlotte but decision to run one more lap before final pit stop proved costly as he ran out of fuel. Instead of a possible win, Keselowski finished 11th -- only the second time since late June he's placed outside the top 10. Despite the disappointment, Keselowski didn't question his team's decision but vowed they would remain aggressive in the Chase. His comments to his team and the media after the race showed that this group won't be undone by this decision.
 
2
Denny Hamlin
2012 Wins: 5
2012 Top-10s: 16
Last week's rank: 3
Runner-up finish was Hamlin's third top-10 in the last four races. Crew chief Darian Grubb has kept Hamlin close to the leaders in the title race, but  can Grubb recreate the magic that helped Tony Stewart win three of the final five races to capture last year's championship?
 
3
Jimmie Johnson
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 21
Last week's rank: 4

Third-place finish at Charlotte was his fourth top-five finish in the last five races. Now the fun begins with the final five races of the Chase. "I think that we see three very equal teams and cars," Johnson said. "I've had a lot of fun over these five races and I know the next five will be great, too."

 
4
Clint Bowyer
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 19
Last week's rank: 5
Bowyer's victory at Charlotte, his third of the season, marked his first career Cup win on a 1.5-mile speedway. In all three wins, he's run out of fuel after the race. Most importantly, he remains a contender for the title, but he'll likely need some help.  "To be back in victory lane, [we now have] new life, new hope going into Kansas. There's a lot of races left," he said.
 
5
Kasey Kahne
2012 Wins: 2
2012 Top-10s: 16
Last week's rank: 6
Kahne's eighth-place finish marked his third top-10 result in the last five races. Has said he would need the leaders to falter to have a shot. He's got to run better to take advantage if the leaders do have problems.
 
6
Jeff Gordon
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 15
Last week's rank: 2
For as well as Gordon's run in the last couple of months, Saturday night was a major disappointment. The team struggled, Gordon got caught speeding on pit road and he finished 18th -- only the second time he's finished the top three in the last eight races.
 
7
Kyle Busch
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 16
Last week's rank: 9
It's no surprise that Busch ran well at Charlotte, finishing fifth. That race marked the fifth time in the last six races there he's placed in the top five. He's been fast recently, and no driver has led more laps in the Chase. Could he be closing in on a victory?
 
8
Tony Stewart
2012 Wins: 3
2012 Top-10s: 14
Last week's rank: 8
Stewart had an up-and-down race that ended him finishing 13th. He suffered damage to the front early when he ran into the back of Keselowski's car on a restart, which impacted Stewart's car the rest of the race.
 
9
Joey Logano
2012 Wins: 1
2012 Top-10s: 12
Last week's rank: N/A

Logano's making his final days at Joe Gibbs Racing eventful. His ninth-place finish is his fourth top-10 in the last five races, his best stretch of the season.

 
10
Mark Martin
2012 Wins: 0
2012 Top-10s: 9
Last week's rank: N/A
Running a partial schedule for Michael Waltrip Racing, Martin continues to impress. His sixth-place finish was his fourth top-10 in his last five starts. Watching him run, it's easy to forget that he's 53 years old.
 
 

 
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