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.