NBC Sports Power Rankings heading to Richmond


With his Cup series-leading third win Sunday at Bristol, it’s not surprising that Kyle Busch was a unanimous pick to remain No. 1 in the NBC Sports Power Rankings.

He heads to Richmond Raceway for Saturday night’s Cup race aiming for his third straight win at the .750-mile track and seventh Cup victory there.

The younger Busch brother has now been No. 1 — either solely or tied for the lead — the last seven weeks.

Making the biggest jump in this week’s rankings is Kurt Busch, who vaults to No. 3 from No. 8 last week. The biggest drop in the rankings was Aric Almirola, who fell out of the top 10 after being ranked No. 5 last week.

Here’s how this week’s Power Rankings look:

1. Kyle Busch (40 points): Who else are you going to put here? All he does is win, win, win. So cry him a river, OK? Last week: 1st.

2. Denny Hamlin (30 points): Hasn’t finished below seventh in the last five races. Imagine what we’d be saying if he and his team cleaned up their act on pit road? Last week: 2nd.

3. Kurt Busch (29 points): Busch keeps being overshadowed by his younger brother. But with the way he’s been finishing this year, including runner-up to Kyle at Bristol, a win of his own seems right around the corner for the older Busch brother. Last week: 8th.

4. Joey Logano (28 points): Bounced back from dismal outings at Martinsville and Texas to earn fourth top five of the season. The late caution probably robbed him of a win, but it doesn’t diminish how good his team was. Last week: 6th.

5. Ryan Blaney (27 points): Led the most laps in Bristol (158) and earned his fourth top five in the last five races. With tough luck finally fading, now just needs to close out a race for first win. Wins are coming soon. Very soon. Last week: not in top 10.

6. Brad Keselowski (18 points): If it wasn’t for the late restart penalty, he likely would have had a top five, maybe even another win. Last week: 3rd (tie).

7. Clint Bowyer (15 points): After a tough start to the season, the No. 14 seems to have stabilized in playoff territory. Hasn’t won at Richmond since 2012. He’s overdue – and ready. Last week: 7th.

8. Kevin Harvick (12 points): Was frustrated from before the race due to three failed inspections to pit road issues and a car that lacked speed. Still, managed to rally back to salvage a 13th-place finish (second worst showing of the season), when it could have been much worse. Kudos for his perseverance. Last week 3rd (tie)

9. Daniel Suarez (7 points): Bounced back from a mid-race penalty for pitting outside his box to earn his third straight top 10, and Stewart Haas Racing’s second-highest finishing driver at Bristol. Is really starting to fit in well at SHR. Last week: was not in top 10.

10. Jimmie Johnson (5 points): Placed 10th to give him consecutive top 10s for the first time this year. Could a win soon be in the offing (particularly since he’s mired in the longest winless streak of his career: 67 straight races, dating back to June 2017)? Last week: 9th (tie).

Others receiving votes: Aric Almirola (3 points), Ryan Newman (3 points), Christopher Bell (2 points), Chase Elliott (1 point).

Follow @JerryBonkowski