NBC Sports Power Rankings heading to Dover

Leave a comment

There has not been a previous week this season that has seen so much upheaval in the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

While Kyle Busch unanimously remains No. 1 in the rankings, movement for the other nine positions – as well as others who received votes – was significant.

Chase Elliott made the biggest jump, going from outside the rankings last week to a tie for third place after claiming his Talladega win. The biggest drop was Clint Bowyer (fifth last week, out of this week’s rankings). One of the biggest surprises: after a career-best third-place finish at ‘Dega, Ryan Preece received five points, but it wasn’t enough to crack the top 10.

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

1. Kyle Busch (40 points): First driver to finish in the top 10 in each of the first 10 races of the season since Morgan Shepherd in 1990. That’s enough to stay No. 1. Last week: 1st.

2. Joey Logano (36 points): Surrounded by Chevrolets at the end of the Talladega race but still scored a top-five result. Got shuffled from lead in no-win situation; still was outstanding. Last week: 3rd.

(tie) 3. Kurt Busch (24 points): Continues to have arguably the most consistent season of any driver, with the exception of younger brother Kyle. His first season at Chip Ganassi Racing remains Grade A. Last week: 8th.

(tie) 3. Chase Elliott (24 points): Normally, a race winner doesn’t make this big of a jump. But to do so at ‘Dega is definitely a feat that warrants Elliott’s placement in this week’s rankings. Last week: not ranked.

5. Denny Hamlin (20 points): No pit road speeding penalty this past weekend but was in wrong place at wrong time early in the race and his car was damaged in an incident. Last week: 2nd.

6. Ryan Newman (19 points): Finished seventh for his third consecutive top 10, greatly increasing his playoff viability. First time he’s done that since late summer 2017 when he earned four straight top 10s. Last week: 9th.

7. Brad Keselowski (17 points): Kudos to his pit crew for servicing his car as quickly as it did after he spun into his pit stall and his car was pointed backward. Last week: 7th.

8. Martin Truex Jr. (9 points): Best thing about Talladega? It’s over. On to his home track of Dover, where he got his first career Cup win in 2007. Last week: 4th.

9. Kevin Harvick (8 points): Early wreck not of his doing took him out. He thought he’d be safe starting from the back of the pack. He was wrong. Never got the chance to see what he had in season-worst finish at Talladega. Last week: 6th.

10. Alex Bowman (6 points): Enjoyed best career finish, second behind race winner and teammate Chase Elliott. Was one three drivers to get career-best finishes at Talladega. Last week: not ranked.

Others Receiving Votes: Ryan Preece (5 points), Aric Almirola (5 points), Tyler Reddick (4 points), Daniel Hemric (1 point), Ryan Blaney (1 point).

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kyle Busch ends the season No. 1

Getty Images
1 Comment

The 2019 season is over and Kyle Busch is the NASCAR Cup champion. And not surprisingly, the younger Busch brother also ends the season as No. 1 in this week’s Power Rankings.

Busch received 39 of 40 possible points to take the No. 1 spot, followed by the other three Championship 4 contenders: Martin Truex Jr. (35 points), and Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick (tied for third place with 28 points each).

The biggest surprises in this week’s standings were Xfinity Series champ Tyler Reddick in fifth and Gander Outdoors Truck Series champ Matt Crafton in sixth.

Here’s this week’s Power Rankings:

1. Kyle Busch (39 points): Finally gets that second title. Last week: Second.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (35 points): Inexcusable pit mistake left him as the championship runner-up for the second year in a row. Last week: Fourth.

(tie) 3. Denny Hamlin (28 points): Came so close to his first championship, only to be fall short yet again. Could this be the closest he’ll ever get? Last week: First.

(tie) 3. Kevin Harvick (28 points): Needed a bit more help than he got going against the Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut. Still, a very strong season regardless. Last week: Third.

5. Tyler Reddick (18 points): It’s hard enough to win one championship, but back-to-back championships with two different teams? Should be a force to be reckoned with when he moves to Cup next season. Last week: Unranked.

6. Matt Crafton (14 points): Wins the championship without even winning a race (in fact, his last win was more than two years ago). Thrived on his underdog status and handled the championship race pressure perfectly. Last week: Unranked.

7. Ryan Blaney (12 points): Finished 11th or better, including a win at Talladega, in five of the last six playoff races. Last week: Fifth.

(tie) 8. Joey Logano (11 points): Ends year with four consecutive top 10s, but fell short when it counted: to make it to the championship round and try to defend last year’s title. Last week: Eighth.

(tie) 8. Erik Jones (11 points): Ends season with four top 10s in last five races. That bodes well for next season. Last week: Seventh.

10. Christopher Bell (6 points): Missed his chance to add an Xfinity title to his prior Truck championship. Still, with eight wins, had an outstanding season. Up next: a promotion to the Cup Series. Last week: 10th.

Others receiving votes: Kyle Larson (5 points), Clint Bowyer (5 points), Cole Custer (4 points), Austin Hill (2 points), Brad Keselowski (1 point), Brett Moffitt (1 point).

Zane Smith joins GMS Racing for full-time Truck Series ride

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zane Smith will compete full-time for GMS Racing in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series next year, the team announced Tuesday.

Smith, 20, joins the team after competing part-time with JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series this year, where his best result in 10 races was fifth twice.

He will be GMS Racing’s fourth full-time entry next year, joining Brett Moffitt, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum. Sam Mayer will compete part-time.

Smith will have veteran Kevin “Bono” Manion as his crew chief.

“When I got the offer from Mike Beam asking me to run a truck full-time for GMS Racing, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Smith said in a press release. “GMS is a championship-caliber team and to be a part of an organization like theirs is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m looking forward to working with Manion again. He has a lot of experience and I know we will be a great team.”

Manion, who has 24 wins across all three national NASCAR series since 2003, joins GMS Racing after serving as a crew chief for DGR-Crosley in 2019, including working with Rookie of the Year Tyler Ankrum. Manion was crew chief for Smith in 2018 when he made his Truck Series debut at Gateway and finished fifth.

“I am really excited to join GMS Racing and Zane (Smith) for the 2020 season,” Manion said in a press release. “With GMS Racing’s championship caliber equipment and Chevrolet support, we have all the resources to win some races and be in the hunt for the 2020 Championship. I got the opportunity to crew chief Zane (Smith) in his first Gander Trucks start in 2018 at Gateway and we worked really well together. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish next season.”

Sponsorship and an assigned truck number for Smith will be announced at a later date.

Penalty report from Homestead-Miami Speedway

Leave a comment

NASCAR issued four fines and one suspension for lug nut violations during its championship weekend in Miami.

Cup Series

Mike Wheeler, crew crew chief on Matt DiBenedetto‘s No. 95 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.

Xfinity Series

Mike Shiplett, crew chief on Cole Custer‘s No. 00 Ford, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

Truck Series

Steve Lane, the owner of On Point Motorsports and crew chief on Danny Bohn‘s No. 30 Toyota, was fined $5,000 and suspended one points race for two unsecured lug nuts. The No. 30 truck competed part-time this season and made 16 starts. NBC Sports has asked the team if it will appeal the suspension.

Trip Bruce III, crew chief on Stewart Friesen‘s No. 52 Chevrolet, was fined $2,500 for one unsecured lug nut.

Other

NASCAR issued an indefinite suspension to Jeffrey Schmidt for violating its substance abuse policy.

Truck Series gets minor name change for 2020

Getty Images
1 Comment

Four days after the end of the Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, NASCAR announced the series will receive a minor name change for the 2020 season.

The series will be called the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series when the season starts in February at Daytona International Speedway.

This is the second name change for the series in two years.

This season saw the name change from the Camping World Truck Series, which had been the title from 2009-2018.

Gander Outdoors and Camping World are owned by the same company.

Next year will also see a different name for the Cup Series. With the series going to a new sponsorship model, it will simply be called the NASCAR Cup Series.