A season in question when it was paused in March ended on schedule in November and with a new Cup champion in Chase Elliott.
His win and title – coming in the last race Jimmie Johnson will run as a full-time Cup driver – provides the sense of a passing of the torch.
Elliott’s strong run in the second half of the playoffs led to his first Cup crown and the No. 1 ranking in this week’s poll.
Here is this week’s NBC Sports Power Rankings
1. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 1): Caps championship season with a victory at Phoenix and by winning three of the last five playoff races. “I really thought performing like we did last week at Martinsville was a really big deal,” he said of his win to advance to the Championship 4 round. “And then performing like we did (at Phoenix) I thought was a really big deal. Finding that groove and finding that comfort in those big moments I think is huge.“
2. Joey Logano (Last week No. 2): His third-place finish marks his fifth consecutive top-10 finish. He placed in the top three in four of those five races. Yet, he fell short of his second title in three years. “It definitely stings,” he said. “I told the guys before the race started, I said in these races when you get to the Championship 4, you can’t lose. You either win or you become stronger. Unfortunately we got stronger.”
3. Ryan Blaney (Last week No. 4): He finished sixth at Phoenix for his fifth consecutive top-10 finish. He placed seventh of better in each of those races, including a runner-up result at Martinsville.
4. Brad Keselowski (Last week No. 6): His car had won its past two races but could not catch Chase Elliott late, finishing second at Phoenix. “I feel like I did all I could do,” Keselowski said. “You know, with that in mind, you try to shake it off and move on. I mean, I can’t change anything about what happened.”
5. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 9): His seventh-place finish at Phoenix was just his second top 10 in the last six races. Still, he finished with a series-high nine wins.
6. Denny Hamlin (Last week No. 7): Daytona 500 winner placed fourth, last among the title contenders, at Phoenix. “We just didn’t have enough car potential for us,” he said. “Our balance was not bad, maybe a little bit off, but just not enough in reserve. Penske and Hendrick both had two teammates inside the top 10 before we even got to our next best two other teammates. Our organization has got to get a little bit better on these types of tracks.”
7. Alex Bowman (Last week No. 3): His 16th-place run at Phoenix snapped a four-race streak of top 10s.
8. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 5): His 10th-place finish was his fourth top 10 in the last five races.
9. Kyle Busch (Last week No. 8): Finished 11th at Phoenix after hitting the wall early in the event. He ended the season by placing 11th or better in each of the last four races.
10. Matt DiBenedetto (Last week unranked): He finished the season with three top 10s in a row after his eighth-place result at Phoenix, That gives him some momentum into the offseason with the Wood Brothers.
Dropped out: Harrison Burton (10th last week)