NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Larson launches back to the top

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The results from the Next Gen car’s debut at Auto Club Speedway have shaken up the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Some names from the season-opening Daytona 500 stuck around, but many new challengers vaulted into this week’s list, including race winner Kyle Larson.

Plenty of drivers turned in eye-catching performances, but there’s only room for 10 on this list. Here’s our selection.

NASCAR Power Rankings after Auto Club

1. Kyle Larson (Last week: Unranked) — The defending Cup Series champion returns to his throne after winning for the fifth time in the last seven points races. The No. 5 team wasn’t the most dominant, but Larson outdrove his competition through multiple late restarts to grab his second win at Auto Club and 17th career victory.

2. Tyler Reddick (Last week: Unranked) — Sunday was a day of what-could-have-beens for Reddick, the third-year driver for Richard Childress Racing in search of his first Cup win. Reddick dominated the race by leading a race-high (and career-high) 90 laps and was surely the driver to beat. That was until a flat left rear tire and subsequent contact from William Byron at Lap 152 derailed his day, relegating him to a 24th-place finish. Hard to believe that’s the last we’ve seen of Reddick near the front of the field in 2022.

3. Austin Cindric (Last week: No. 1) — Finally, a name that was on last week’s Daytona 500 Power Rankings. Cindric remains the series points leader after two races and the first rookie atop those standings since Jimmie Johnson in 2002. The Team Penske driver impressed the field with a pole run Saturday and brought home a 12th-place finish Sunday.

4. Ryan Blaney (Last week: No. 4) — If it felt like Blaney was charging through the field back into the top 10 on every restart, that’s because he was. Blaney’s No. 12 car appeared to be a top-five car all race, but pit road was a disaster for the team all day, forcing Blaney to play catch-up instead. Losing that track position (coupled with a sliding save off Turn 2 on the final lap) cost him a good finish, but the car certainly had speed.

5. Aric Almirola (Last week: No. 8) — Almirola had a fairly quiet Sunday but leaves Fontana as the only Cup driver with top 10s in both races this season (fifth at Daytona, sixth at Auto Club). Almirola slid sideways both Saturday and Sunday and even had to pit an extra time Sunday after flat spotting his tires. The No. 10 Ford rebounded for another strong finish, starting Almirola’s retirement tour in good fashion.

6. Erik Jones (Last week: Unranked) — Jones was remarkable all weekend, starting with his qualifying effort that placed him second on the grid. With new crew chief Dave Elenz atop the pit box, Jones was statistically a top-five car all day, notching a fourth-place average running position and never crossing the start/finish line lower than 12th. The No. 43 Chevrolet spent 18 laps out front, was a legitimate factor for the win and sits sixth in points. Strong start to the Petty GMS Motorsports era.

7. Chase Briscoe (Last week: No. 7) — There has been no sophomore slump yet for Briscoe, who was on track for a much better finish at Auto Club than 16th before late contact and an extra trip down pit road. The Indiana native sits fifth in points through two races, thanks in large part to a third-place finish in the Daytona 500. Briscoe spent 20 laps in the lead Sunday, the most laps led in his career. After being in position to win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course last season, perhaps we should expect the No. 14 Ford to contend regularly this season.

8. Joey Logano (Last week: Unranked) — Logano has snuck his way to second in points with finishes of 21st at Daytona and fifth at Auto Club. His secret? Stage points. Through four stages, Logano has already accumulated 27 stage points, earning at least four points in every stage this season. The 2018 Cup champion was also in the mix for the win Sunday. Heading into Las Vegas, that’s very likely to be the case again this weekend.

9. Kyle Busch (Last week: No. 5) — The theme of Busch’s season so far has been recovery. In each of this year’s opening races, Busch has spun early and had to overcome significant setbacks. That was exemplified at Auto Club after three early issues (a spin, overheating and a flat tire) left him four laps down. Somehow, the No. 18 team rallied for a 14th-place, lead-lap finish and now sits 11th in points.

10. Chase Elliott (Last week: Unranked) — On paper, it was a miserable day for Elliott, who spun twice and finished 26th. The first time he spun came shortly after contacting the wall by himself as the race leader. The second time, of course, came after getting walled by Larson, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, in a three-wide battle for the lead with 21 laps to go. That battle for the lead came after Elliott rebounded from a two-lap deficit through, which is why Elliott makes the top 10 this week.

Dropped out: Brad Keselowski (Last week: No. 2), Martin Truex Jr. (Last week: No. 3), Bubba Wallace (Last week: No. 6), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Last week: No. 9), Michael McDowell (Last week: No. 10)

NASCAR weekend schedule at World Wide Technology Raceway, Portland


NASCAR’s top three series are racing this weekend in two different locations. Cup and Craftsman Truck teams will compete at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, and the Xfinity Series will compete at Portland International Raceway.

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (Cup and Trucks)

Weekend weather

Friday: Partly cloudy with a high of 87 degrees during Truck qualifying.

Saturday: Sunny. Temperatures will be around 80 degrees for the start of Cup practice and climb to 88 degrees by the end of Cup qualifying. Forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 93 degrees around the start of the Truck race.

Sunday: Mostly sunny with a high of 92 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the Cup race.

Friday, June 2

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 1 – 8 p.m. Craftsman Truck Series
  • 4 – 9 p.m. Cup Series

Track activity

  • 6 – 6:30 p.m. — Truck practice (FS1)
  • 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. — Truck qualifying (FS1)

Saturday, June 3

Garage open

  • 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  — Cup Series
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series

Track activity

  • 10 – 10:45 a.m. — Cup practice (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 10:45 a.m. – 12 p.m. — Cup qualifying  (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 1:30 p.m. — Truck race (160 laps, 200 miles; FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, June 4

Garage open

  • 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 3:30 p.m. — Cup race (240 laps, 300 miles; FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)


Portland International Raceway (Xfinity Series)

Weekend weather

Friday: Mostly sunny with a high of 77 degrees.

Saturday: Mostly sunny with a high of 73 degrees and no chance of rain around the start of the Xfinity race.

Friday, June 2

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 6-11 p.m. Xfinity Series

Saturday, June 3

Garage open

  • 10 a.m.  — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. — Xfinity practice (No TV)
  • 12 – 1 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (FS1)
  • 4:30 p.m. — Xfinity race (75 laps, 147.75 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

NASCAR Cup playoff standings after Coca-Cola 600


The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.

The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.

Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.

Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.

The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.

MORE: Updated Cup playoff standings

The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.

“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”

The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.