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Time for our latest round of power rankings. Each week throughout the season, we'll size up who's rising and who's falling, based on current standings, behind-the-scenes changes, expected staying power, recent history and general gut feelings. And we continue with the competition for the No. 1 spot getting a little tighter:

Carl Edwards1. Carl Edwards. An unspectacular week for Edwards, which in this case means he finishes 6th. He was never really a factor this time around, but he did exactly what top-flight drivers do in these kinds of situations: ran his own race and made up points where he could. It's why he's now sitting at the top of the Cup standings. Last week's ranking: 1.

2. Kyle Busch. If this race were 195 laps long, Kyle would have the No. 1 spot this week. As it is, giving up the win (and second place) means he doesn't have quite enough juice to push Edwards out of the top spot. Still, when a disappointing week means you lead the most laps and get passed right at the end, well, that ain't bad. Last week's ranking: 2.

Ryan Newman3. Ryan Newman. And this is how it's done, friends: Newman has been relentlessly consistent, posting finishes of 5th, 5th, 10th and 5th since a disappointing 22nd at Daytona. And as fast as he qualifies, he has an extra edge that other drivers would commit crimes to have. So, yeah, Rocketman is setting himself up for a big win sometime soon. Or at least another 5th-place finish. Last week's ranking: 5.

Kurt Busch4. Kurt Busch. The glow of Daytona is a long way away now, and while Kurt has posted some strong finishes, he finished a disappointing 17th at Fontana and never threatened for the lead. But he did crack lobster claws while driving in his latest commercial, so that's kind of cool. Last week's ranking: 3.

Jimmie Johnson5. Jimmie Johnson. Cue the Imperial March; Lord Vader is once again on the move. Anybody who thought Johnson was lost as a result of some early-season stumbles just hasn't been paying attention. However, 48-haters can take heart in the fact that Johnson got completely outplayed in the final lap at Fontana, something that would have been unthinkable even last year. Last week's ranking: 6.

6. Tony Stewart. He led a few laps at Fontana, but never seemed quite comfortable up front, and the last round of restarts shuffled him to the back like the skinny kid in the cafeteria line at elementary school. Still, for a guy who hits the snooze button on his season until May, he's playing with house money right now. Last week's ranking: 8.

Kevin Harvick7. Kevin Harvick. Harvick strikes me as the kind of guy who'd swoop in and take the last piece of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner right as you were reaching for it. I bet he does the same thing in New York City when going for a cab, jumping in right in front of some poor sap who'd been hailing in the rain for hours. Hey, it's a gift. Last week's ranking: 11.

Paul Menard8. Paul Menard. The Menard Empire took a bit of a hit this week, sliding back to 16th in Fontana. But when you're used to your guy finishing in the low 20s, a 16th-placer suits you just fine. Still, let's not make a habit of this, Mr. Menard; your Empire is restless, and they demand nothing less than, well, lower-top-10 finishes. Last week's ranking: 8.

9. Juan Pablo Montoya. He snagged the pole position and actually held it for a few laps before surrendering to the far faster field. But he nonetheless posted a top-10 finish, which is exactly what he needs at this time of year. Solid race, solid position all the way around. Last week's ranking: 9.

Jeff Gordon10. Jeff Gordon. While everybody enjoyed Gordon's win a few weeks back, nobody thought to ask him what he'd do for an encore, and if they did, "finishing 36th, 14th and 18th" probably isn't the answer that people really would have wanted to hear. Me, I blame the crew chief. Seems like the easiest thing to do. Last week's ranking: 7.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Yep, another reasonably decent run for Junior, this time a 12th-place finish. As Earnhardt noted after the race, his problem continues to be qualifying; if he's down in the mess at the start of the race, it's that much tougher to fight through it and start actually passing people. Still, finishing in the teens is better than finishing in the 20s, yes? Last week's ranking: 10.

Matt Kenseth12. Matt Kenseth. Welcome aboard, Flatline! Matt Kenseth makes his 2011 Power Rankings debut thanks to his second straight fourth-place finish. Kenseth responded to the honor by nodding once, then staring wordlessly into space. So, yeah, congrats, Matt. Last week's ranking: NR.

Lucky Dog: Clint Bowyer. Last week's DNF is this week's Lucky Dog. That's how the wheel spins. Bowyer finally had himself a decent run this year, finishing 7th and even leading a lap along the way. He's got a huge hill to climb to get back into this season, but this is the way you start.

DNF: Denny Hamlin. Man, what a comedown from 2010. More under-the-hood troubles for Joe Gibbs Racing ended Hamlin's day just after the halfway mark, and the guy who was half a race away from a championship last year now sits in 21st place after five races. That ain't good, but if there's anybody who could win their way into the Chase, it's Hamlin.

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