NASCAR Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Who's the Team to Beat in 2011?

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Who's the Team to Beat in 2011?
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Five time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champ Jimmie Johnson is still man to beat in 2011.

Power rankings in NASCAR Sprint Cup can be boring if the same team is at the top every year. As NASCAR goes on its annual vacation for a couple of months, many teams went back to their shops and focused on 2011 hours after the checkered flag fell in Homestead.

There was a glimmer of hope for the Roush Fenway camp after Carl Edwards dominated the last two races. Edwards set the tone for the upcoming 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup campaign by winning Phoenix and Homestead while making it look easy. Edwards has been off the map since his amazing 2008 season.

With Edwards climbing the ladder among NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers in the power rankings, others were crashing to the basement. Kurt Busch suffered several setbacks after making this year's Chase, and now he will leave the blue deuce in a move that is just a numbers swap.

Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon also had more in common than their cat fight at Texas Motor Speedway. Both dropped in the rankings as the NASCAR Sprint Cup season came to a close. Burton had several moments in the NASCAR Chase but could never close the deal. Gordon suffered payback in two separate incidents. Kurt Busch paid Gordon back at Martinsville for a cut tire at Sonoma, and Burton dumped Gordon under caution after an earlier incident.

One thing is clear as the drivers take their well-deserved break: The target is on Jimmie Johnson in 2011, and no driver will cut him slack in the next year. This has no effect on the initial power rankings. Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 team will still be the No. 1 team for 2011.

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