The twists and turns of Daytona International Speedway’s road course not only provided the second first-time winner of the season but shook up the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.
Christopher Bell‘s win vaulted him into the rankings for the first time this season, but he’s behind a new No. 1.
Bell is one of two drivers making their first appearance this season in the rankings.
NASCAR Power Rankings after Daytona road course race
1. Denny Hamlin (Last week: No. 2) — Opens the season with back-to-back top-five finishes. He also moves into the points lead. No driver has scored more stage points (38) or stage wins (three) than Hamlin this season. His stage points alone would rank tied for 15th in the season standings. He also had the best average running position on the Daytona road course at 4.3.
2. Michael McDowell (Last week: No. 1) — Daytona 500 winner overcame a flat tire before the start Sunday’s race on the road course and went on to finish eighth. He has two top 10s this season. He had four last year.
3. Christopher Bell (Last week: Unranked): Scored first career Cup win with a strong performance at Daytona that was not seen as a fluke. Got through traffic late and took the lead in the final laps.
4. Kevin Harvick (Last week: No. 4) — Has not finished worse than sixth in the first two races of the year.
5. Chase Elliott (Last week: No. 5) — Led the most laps (44) on the Daytona road course and again showed he remains dominant on such circuits but got stuff in traffic after a pit stop when others stayed out and couldn’t get back to the front, finishing 21st.
6. Joey Logano (Last week: No. 7) — Runner-up finish marks second consecutive road course he’s placed second. He finished second at last year’s Charlotte Roval race. Logano tied Hamlin with most points scored (52) in Sunday’s race.
7. Brad Keselowski (Last week: No. 10) — Somehow finished fifth after missing two chicanes and getting spun in the race. He was running 27th with 15 laps left and benefitted from not stopping when others did on Lap 57.
8. Ryan Preece (Last week: No. 8) — Scored his first career Cup top 10 on a road course, placing ninth. That gives him back-to-back top 10s to open the year.
9. Kurt Busch (Last week: Unranked) — Finished fourth after sliding through the grass at one point. His 48 points Sunday was behind only what Hamlin and Logano scored.
10. AJ Allmendinger (Last week: Unranked) — Finished seventh in first Cup race of the season for Kaulig Racing. Made up for disappointment in the Xfinity race when he had contact with Austin Cindric racing to win the opening stage.