Ties in NBC Sports’ NASCAR Power Rankings are not unusual. But a tie at the top of the heap is rare.
Elliott made the biggest climb, improving from seventh last week, while Blaney was third last week. Also of note, Dale Earnhardt Jr., making his first race start in nearly 10 months, scored eighth in this week’s rankings after finishing fifth in Saturday’s Xfinity race.
Kevin Harvick suffered the biggest drop, falling from No. 1 to tied for ninth this week.
Here’s how this week’s rankings look:
(tie) 1. Chase Elliott (27 points): Scored top-five finishes at Martinsville and Miami, giving him four top-five results, including a win, in the last six races. It could have been more if not for the crash with Joey Logano while racing for the lead late at Bristol. Last week: seventh.
(tie) 1. Ryan Blaney (27 points): With five top-five finishes in his last six starts, Blaney is knocking on victory’s door. He won the last Cup race at Talladega last fall. Can history repeat Sunday? Last week: third.
3. Brad Keselowski (24 points): Leads the Cup Series with seven top-10 finishes (all consecutive), including wins in Coca-Cola 600 and at Bristol. Last week: fourth.
4. Denny Hamlin (22 points): Ran poorly at Martinsville and then came back to win Miami. Three times he’s finished 20th or worse this season. In each of the races that followed those poor results, he has a win, a runner-up and a fifth-place finish. Last week: ninth.
5. Martin Truex Jr. (17 points): Finished 12th at Miami but probably could have wound up with a top 10 if he would have a break or two more. Last week: sixth.
6. Chase Briscoe (13 points): Started Saturday’s Xfinity race six laps down after ballast fell out of his car on the pace laps. He recovered to finish on the lead lap in seventh. The next day, without his suspended crew chief, Briscoe won the Xfinity race. Quite a weekend. Last week: unranked.
7. Kyle Busch (12 points): Had an up-and-down weekend. Won Truck race easily but continues to struggle in pursuit of first Cup win of season. Last week: second.
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (6 points): Hadn’t raced since last August at Darlington but made it look easy at Miami. A few twists of fate and he might have pulled off the win. Instead, he finished fifth. Hinted that this could be his last NASCAR race. Last week: unranked.
(tie) 9. Kevin Harvick (5 points): Martinsville and Miami were forgettable. It’s on to Talladega. Last week: first.
(tie) 9. Harrison Burton (5 points): Continues to have tremendous rookie season in the Xfinity Series, including win and eighth-place finish at Homestead. Has not finished lower than ninth in any race this season. Last week: unranked.