NASCAR Power Rankings: Tyler Reddick jumps to No. 1 after Phoenix


There’s a new driver atop this week’s NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings after Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway.

Chase Briscoe added his name to the history books as a Cup Series winner, now marking four different drivers that have gone to Victory Lane this year. That only further underscores the parity the Next Gen car has brought to the Cup Series.

While many drivers are worthy of a mention, here are the 10 that made this week’s list:

NASCAR Power Rankings after Phoenix

1. Tyler Reddick (Last week: No. 2) Reddick spent the majority of the West Coast Swing at or near the front of the field. The No. 8 Chevrolet bolstered those performance highs with a third-place finish Sunday in Phoenix and was in the mix for his first career win against Chase Briscoe and Ross Chastain. Reddick didn’t lead any laps this weekend but was a top-five contender all day, evidenced by his 5.86 average running position, according to NASCAR’s loop data. He led 90 laps at Auto Club and rallied for a seventh-place finish at Las Vegas after an earlier spin. The car is fast and he’s quickly learning how to maximize his days — especially after making further adjustments to alleviate numbness in his legs.

2. Kyle Larson (Last week: No. 1) Even after a broken valve spring ended his day early at Phoenix, Larson still maintains the highest average running position in the series at 10.447. The No. 5 team loses its lead in the rankings this week after an underwhelming performance overall in Arizona. Despite leading the way in all relevant categories in Saturday’s practice sessions, Larson was never a factor in Sunday’s race. Of course, after an Auto Club win and a runner-up result in Las Vegas, I don’t think the team is too concerned.

3. Kyle Busch (Last week: No. 4) Busch continues to persevere in 2022. After incurring a pit-road speeding penalty at Lap 292, Busch rallied for a seventh-place finish Sunday at Phoenix. His only finish worse than that came at Auto Club Speedway, where he finished 14th. Busch isn’t lighting up the laps-led column or even earning many stage points, snagging just eight through four races. But he’s finishing well and fighting back from earlier setbacks, enough to sit second in points with a 7.8 average finish, second-best behind Aric Almirola.

4. Ryan Blaney (Last week: No. 8) At times, Blaney looked to have the dominant car in Phoenix, leading a race-high 143 laps and winning Stage 2. But the No. 12 team’s Achilles heel remains pit road. Blaney lost three spots after winning the stage because of lost time on pit road, then lost an additional six on the next stop. Nonetheless, Blaney averaged a 4.5 running position Sunday and found himself three-wide for second on the final restart before finishing fourth. If his pit road woes are cleaned up, Blaney might find himself in Victory Lane sooner than later.

5. Joey Logano (Last week: No. 7) The 2018 series champion continues to rise in the rankings, just like he’s risen to the lead of NASCAR’s points standings. The No. 22 Ford has netted the third-most stage points, adding to top-10 finishes at Auto Club (fifth) and Phoenix (eighth). There has been no dominance from Logano yet this year, but his average running position of 10.541 only trails Larson. Expect the No. 22 team to stay on its current trajectory.

6. Chase Elliott (Last week: No. 9) Elliott seems closer and closer to collecting his first oval win since winning the Cup championship at Phoenix in November 2020. The No 9 Chevrolet paced the field for 50 laps Sunday and boasted the day’s best average running position at 3.92. Overall, Elliott has been rather quiet this season, posting finishes of 10th (Daytona), 26th (Auto Club), ninth (Las Vegas) and 11th (Phoenix). But let’s not forget he may have been 20 laps away from at least a podium finish at Fontana before late contact with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Larson. Elliott still holds the fourth-best average running position despite a late spin at Phoenix and now sits third in points.

7. Aric Almirola (Last week No. 3) Almirola’s five-race streak of top-10 finishes came to an end Sunday with a 12th-place finish, but Almirola still holds the best average finish in the Cup Series this year at 7.3. His No. 10 team, headed by new crew chief Drew Blickensderfer, seemingly gets better as the day goes. Eventually, the team will need to figure out how to run up front all day — Almirola has scored just three stage points all year, the fewest of any driver with stage points — but right now, the finishes are still there.

8. Ross Chastain (Last week: Unranked) Chastain makes his season debut in the rankings after netting consecutive top-five finishes for the first time in his career. His runner-up effort at Phoenix showed consistency after leading 83 laps and winning a stage one week prior in Las Vegas. Chastain’s year started poorly in Daytona with a 40th-place finish and followed that up with a spin at Fontana that took him from inside the top 10 down to 29th. But perhaps he can follow Noah Gragson‘s lead from the Xfinity Series to go from finishes of third and second and turn it into a win within the next two weeks.

9. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week: No. 6) Truex pounded the outside wall at the exit of Turn 2 in Phoenix, plummeting him to a 35th-place finish. But the No. 19 Toyota was often found at the back half of the top 10 before his crash. Truex, the 2017 series champion, has turned in strong performances and consistent results before Phoenix but has yet to show an ability to close the deal this season. Perhaps that changes soon.

10. Chase Briscoe (Last week: Unranked) The newest and 200th different winner in the Cup Series cracks this week’s top 10 after a powerful performance in Phoenix. Briscoe led 101 laps en route to his first premier win and nabbed his second top-five finish in the process. The No. 14 Ford finished third at Daytona and led 20 laps at Auto Club before finishing 16th but crashed out at Las Vegas. Briscoe was fast in practice and qualified sixth at Phoenix, proving the car had speed. For the first time in his Cup career, he proved he could put it all together and earned the checkered flag.

Dropped out: Austin Cindric (Last week: No. 5), Alex Bowman (Last week: No. 10)

Drivers to watch in Clash at the Coliseum


The 2023 NASCAR season will begin with Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum, the second race on a purpose-built track inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Although a non-points race, last year’s Clash generated intense interest as NASCAR moved the event from its long-time home at Daytona International Speedway to Los Angeles. The race was rated a success and opened doors for the possibility of future races in stadium environments.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: 10 historic moments in the Clash

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Year Two will find drivers competing on a familiar landscape but still with a track freshly paved. Last year’s racing surface was removed after the Clash.

Drivers to watch Sunday at Los Angeles:


Joey Logano

  • Points position: Finished 2022 as Cup champion
  • Last three races: Won at Phoenix, 6th at Martinsville, 18th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: Won in 2022

Logano put bookends on 2022 by winning the first Clash at the Coliseum and the season’s final race at Phoenix to win the Cup championship. He’ll be among the favorites Sunday.

Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 2nd in 2022
  • Last three races: 3rd at Phoenix, 4th at Martinsville, 2nd at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: Did not qualify last year

Chastain was the breakout star of 2022, winning a pair of races and generally putting himself front and center across much of the year. Can he start 2023 on a big note? If so, he will have to do so without replicating his Hail Melon move at Martinsville after NASCAR outlawed the move Tuesday.

Kevin Harvick

  • Points position: 15th in 2022
  • Last three races: 5th at Phoenix, 16th at Martinsville, 8th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 10th in 2022

Sunday will begin the final roundup for Harvick, who has said this season will be his last as a full-time Cup driver. He is likely to come out of the gate with fire in his eyes.


Kyle Busch

  • Points position: 13th in 2022
  • Last three races: 7th at Phoenix, 29th at Martinsville, 9th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 2nd in 2022

Welcome to Kyle Busch’s Brave New World. After 15 seasons at Joe Gibbs Racing, he begins a new segment of his career with Richard Childress Racing. He led 64 laps at last year’s Clash but couldn’t catch Joey Logano at the end.

Tyler Reddick

  • Points position: 14th in 2022
  • Last three races: 23rd at Phoenix, 35th at Martinsville, 35th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 21st in 2022

Reddick ran surprisingly strong in last year’s Clash, leading 51 laps before parking with drivetrain issues. He starts the new year with a new ride — at 23XI Racing.

Ty Gibbs

  • Points position: Won Xfinity Series championship in 2022
  • Last three (Cup) races: 19th at Martinsville, 22nd at Homestead, 22nd at Las Vegas
  • Past at Clash: Did not compete in 2022

After a successful — and controversial — Xfinity season, Gibbs moves up to Cup full-time with his grandfather’s team. Will he be the brash young kid of 2022 or a steadier driver in Season One in Cup?







Interstate Batteries extends sponsorship with Joe Gibbs Racing


Interstate Batteries, which has been a Joe Gibbs Racing sponsor since the team’s first race, has expanded its involvement with the team for 2023.

Interstate, based in Dallas, will be a primary JGR sponsor for 13 races, up from six races, the number it typically sponsored each year since 2008.

Christopher Bell and Ty Gibbs will run the majority of Interstate’s sponsorship races, but Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. also will carry the sponsor colors.

MORE: NASCAR outlaws Ross Chastain Martinsville move

“We’re extremely proud of our partnership with our founding sponsor, Interstate Batteries,” said team owner Joe Gibbs in a statement released by the team. “They have been such an important part of our team for over three decades now, and it’s exciting to have them on board all four of our cars this season. The best part of our partnership is the relationships we’ve built with everyone there over the years.”

Bell will carry Interstate sponsorship in Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum, the All-Star Race May 21, the Coca-Cola 600 May 28, at Texas Motor Speedway Sept. 24 and at Martinsville Oct. 29.

Gibbs, in his first full season in Cup racing, will be sponsored by Interstate at Daytona Feb. 19, Bristol April 9, Nashville June 25, Chicago July 2, Texas Sept. 24 and Charlotte Oct. 8.

Hamlin will ride with Interstate sponsorship March 26 at Circuit of the Americas, and Truex will be sponsored by Interstate July 23 at Pocono.

Interstate was a key JGR sponsor in the team’s first season in 1992.

NASCAR announces rule changes for 2023 season


CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR announced a series of rule changes for the 2023 season that includes outlawing the move Ross Chastain made at Martinsville and eliminating stage breaks at all six Cup road course events.

NASCAR announced the changes in a session with reporters Tuesday at the NASCAR R&D Center.

Among new things for this season:

  • Updated penalty for a wheel coming off a car.
  • Change to the amount of time teams have to repair cars on pit road via the Damaged Vehicle Policy.
  • Change to playoff eligibility for drivers.
  • Cars could run in wet weather conditions on short ovals.
  • Expansion of the restart zone on a trial basis.
  • Choose rule will be in place for more races.

MORE: Ranking top 10 moments at the Clash

NASCAR updated its policy on a loose wheel. Previously, if a wheel came off a car during an event, it would be a four-race suspension for the crew chief and two pit crew members. That has changed this year.

If a wheel comes off a car while the vehicle is still on pit road, the vehicle restarts at the tail end of the field. If a wheel comes off a vehicle while it is on pit road under green-flag conditions, it is a pass-thru penalty.

The rule changes once a vehicle has left pit road and loses a wheel.

Any vehicle that loses a wheel on the track will be penalized two laps and have two pit crew members suspended for two races. The suspensions will go to those most responsible for the wheel coming off. This change takes away a suspension to the crew chief. The policy is the same for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.

With some pit crew members working multiple series, the suspension is only for that series. So, if a pit crew member is suspended two races in the Xfinity Series for a wheel coming off, they can still work the Cup race the following day.

The Damaged Vehicle Policy clock will be 7 minutes this season. It had been six minutes last year and was increased to 10 minutes during the playoffs. After talking with teams, NASCAR has settled on seven minutes for teams to make repairs on pit road or be eliminated. Teams can replace toe links on pit road but not control arms. Teams also are not permitted to have specialized repair tools in the pits.

NASCAR will have a wet weather package for select oval tracks: the Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Lucas Oil Raceway Park, Martinsville, Milwaukee, New Hampshire, North Wilkesboro, Phoenix and Richmond.

Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition for NASCAR, said that teams have been told to show up at these events prepared for wet weather conditions as they would at a road course. That includes having a windshield wiper. Wet weather tires will be available. 

“Our goal here is to get back to racing as soon as possible,” Swayer said. “… If there’s an opportunity for us to get some cars or trucks on the racetrack and speed up that (track-drying) process and we can get back to racing, that’s what our goal is. We don’t want to be racing in full-blown rain (at those tracks) and we’ve got spray like we would on a road course.”

NASCAR stated that it is removing the requirement that a winning driver be in the top 30 in points in Cup or top 20 in Xfinity or Trucks to become eligible for the playoffs. As long as a driver is competing full-time — or has a waiver for the races they missed, a win will make them playoff eligible.

With the consultation of drivers, NASCAR is expanding the restart zone to give the leader more room to take off. NASCAR said it will evaluate if to keep this in place after the Atlanta race in March.

NASCAR stated the choose rule will be in effect for superspeedways and dirt races.

NASCAR eliminates stage breaks for Cup road course events

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CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR will do away with stage breaks in all six Cup road course races and select Xfinity and Truck races this season, but teams will continue to score stage points. 

NASCAR announced the change Tuesday in a session with reporters at the NASCAR R&D Center. 

MORE: NASCAR outlaws Ross Chastain Martinsville move

NASCAR stated there will be no stage breaks in the Cup road course events at Circuit of the Americas (March 26), Sonoma (June 11), Chicago street course (July 2), Indianapolis road course (Aug. 13), Watkins Glen (Aug. 20) and Charlotte Roval (Oct. 8).

There will be no stage breaks for Xfinity races at Circuit of the Americas (March 25), Sonoma (June 10), Chicago street course (July 1), Indianapolis road course (Aug. 12), Watkins Glen (Aug. 19) and Charlotte Roval (Oct. 7).

There will be no stage breaks for the Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas (March 25).

In those races, stage points will be awarded on a designated lap, but there will be no green-and-checkered flag and the racing will continue.

The only road course events that will have stage breaks will be Xfinity standalone races at Portland (June 3) and Road America (July 29) and the Truck standalone race at Mid-Ohio (July 8). Those events will keep stage breaks because they have non-live pit stops — where the field comes down pit road together and positions cannot be gained or lost provided the stop is completed in the prescribed time by NASCAR.

NASCAR has faced questions from fans and competitors about stage breaks during road course races because those breaks alter strategy in a more defined manner than on most ovals.

Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition for NASCAR, said the move away from stage breaks at road courses was made in collaboration with teams and response from fans.

“When we introduced stage racing … we took an element of strategy away from the event,” Sawyer. “Felt this (change) would bring some new storylines (in an event).”

NASCAR instituted stage breaks and stage points for the 2017 season and has kept the system in place since. NASCAR awards a playoff point to the stage winner along with 10 points. The top 10 at the end of a stage score points.

It wasn’t uncommon for many teams to elect to pit before the first stage in a road course race and eschew points to put themselves in better track position for the final two stages. By pitting early, they would be behind those who stayed out to collect the stage points. At the stage break, those who had yet to pit would do so, allowing those who stopped before the break to leapfrog back to the front.