Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin climbs to No. 1

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Denny Hamlin finished second to Chase Elliott on Sunday in the inaugural Cup race on the Daytona road course but it was good enough to vault Hamlin to No. 1 in this week’s NBC Sports Power Rankings.

Hamlin ends Kevin Harvick‘s six-week reign atop the rankings. Harvick falls to third behind Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.

NASCAR heads to Dover International Speedway for a busy weekend. The Truck Series races Friday. Saturday and Sunday features Xfinity/Cup doubleheaders. The Xfinity and Cup races will be on NBCSN both days.

Here is this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings:

1. Denny Hamlin (Last week No. 2): His runner-up finish at Daytona is the 10th time this season Hamlin has placed first or second. That’s more than 40% of the time.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 3): Has scored five consecutive third-place finishes. Can he make it a half dozen on Saturday at Dover? He finished first at Dover in May 2019 and placed second there in Oct. 2019. Third would only seem natural at this point.

3. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 1): Saw his streak of nine consecutive top-five finishes end on the Daytona road course but what a run it was. Time to start a new one for the driver who has completed all but two of the 5,871 laps run this season.

4. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 7): Would be No. 1 based on road course performances. Daytona win was his third road course victory in a row.

5. Joey Logano (Last week No. 5): Has scored four consecutive top-10 finishes, one off the longest active streak by Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.

5. Austin Cindric (Last week No. 8): Five wins in his last six Xfinity starts. After spotting Chase Briscoe five wins, he’s now tied Briscoe for most victories in the Xfinity Series this season.

7. Brad Keselowski (Last week unranked): Has six top 10s in the last eight races.

7. Kaz Grala (Last week unranked): Remarkable job to finish seventh in his Cup debut in place of Austin Dillon, who had missed the race because he tested positive for COVID-19.

7. Jimmie Johnson (Last week unranked): Scored his first top-five finish last weekend since late May. Now off to one of his best tracks. It’s crunch time to make the playoffs. Can he do so?

10. Aric Almirola (Last week No. 4): Has 10 top 10s in the last 12 races but coming off a 24th-place finish on the Daytona road course.

10. William Byron (Last week unranked): Steady performances have kept him holding on to what is the final playoff spot with three races left in the regular season. His eighth-place finish at Daytona marked his sixth finish of 8th-14th in the last seven races.

Dropped out: Kyle Busch (Last week 6th), Kurt Busch (9th), Matt DiBenedetto (10th)