NBC Sports Power Rankings: Hamlin still No. 1, Kyle Busch plummets

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Even though Kyle Busch is back to No. 1 in the Cup point standings, that hasn’t stopped NBC’s writers from keeping Denny Hamlin No. 1 for a third consecutive week in the NASCAR Power Rankings.

There are three major moves in this week’s rankings: Watkins Glen winner Chase Elliott climbs to No. 4 after being unranked last week, Matt DiBenedetto jumps to No. 7 after being unranked and Kyle Busch drops four spots to ninth.

Here’s how this week’s Power Rankings shape up:

1. Denny Hamlin (40 points): Streaking with four consecutive top-five finishes. Building momentum for the playoffs. Off the speed of the top two finishers at The Glen but still noticeably strong. Last week: 1st.

2. Erik Jones (34 points): Has finished fourth or better in more than a third of the races this season, including the last four. just needs that win now. Last week: 2nd.

3. Martin Truex Jr. (32 points): Probably had the fastest car Sunday, maintaining road-course dominance. Overall, runner-up finish marked his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. Last week: 3rd.

4. Chase Elliott (28 points): Mistake-free command performance re-established him as title contender. Ends bad stretch with dominant win. Now let’s see him put together back-to-back strong weekends. Last week: Unranked.

5. Ryan Blaney (21 points): Said he didn’t mean to wreck Jimmie Johnson but that didn’t matter to Johnson. What matters to Blaney is his fifth-place finish was his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. Last week: 8th.

6. Kevin Harvick (18 points): “The Closer” hasn’t done much closing this year. He has all the tools and personnel to do better than he has. Has to pick up his game if he hopes to go far in the playoffs. Last week: 4th.

7. Matt DiBenedetto (15 points): Finished sixth at Watkins Glen, earning his fourth top 10 in the last seven races. Has shown enough to earn another season in the No. 95. Last week: Unranked.

8. Kyle Larson (10 points): Eighth-place finish is fifth top 10 in the last seven races. While that’s all well and good, if he doesn’t significantly pick up his game, he could be one of the four drivers to exit the playoffs after the first round. Maybe he should put sprint car racing on hold to focus on his regular job. Last week: 6th.

9. Kyle Busch (9 points): Got to learn who to pick fights with. You think he’s going to be racing around Bubba Wallace a lot this year? That wasn’t a smart move roughing up Wallace. Last week: 5th.

10. Austin Cindric (6 points): Earned his first career Xfinity win. Has been slowly and methodically improving and finally cashed in with the right opportunity at Watkins Glen. Last week: Unranked.

Others Receiving Votes: Stewart Friesen (4 points), Brad Keselowski (2 points), Christopher Bell (1 point).