NASCAR Power Rankings: Ross Chastain leaps to No. 1 after Dega win


With his second career win, Ross Chastain jumps from outside the top five to the No. 1 spot in this week’s NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Talladega Superspeedway added an unsurprising shuffle to the list, but many of the same weekly contenders found their way to the front of the field when the checkered flag waved in Alabama.

See whether your favorite driver is ranked after the 10th race of 2022:

NASCAR Power Rankings

1. Ross Chastain (Last week: No. 7) Chastain had a couple of down weeks in between his two victories, but the No. 1 Chevrolet is back atop the list. Chastain has two wins and six top-five finishes in his last eight races, the lows being a 19th-place finish at Richmond and a 33rd-place result after a blown engine at Bristol dirt. His momentum seemed to have cooled, and it’s hard to glean much of anything meaningful following a superspeedway race. But Chastain has shown speed at every track type on the schedule.

2. Ryan Blaney (Last week: No. 1) Blaney left Talladega with an 11th-place finish, his first outside the top 10 since placing 17th at Atlanta in March. But the No. 12 Ford found its way to the front, as it usually does on a superspeedway, leading 23 laps and coming across the line well inside the lead pack. Blaney’s lone finish outside the top 20 remains a 36th-place finish at Las Vegas, the result of his only DNF of the year.

3. William Byron (Last week: No. 2) The No. 24 Chevrolet led a race-high 38 laps at Talladega and entered the tri-oval 10th on the final lap, but a block from Bubba Wallace and contact from Alex Bowman sent Byron into the wall en route to a 15th-place finish Sunday. Byron is the only other multi-race winner this season alongside Chastain, but Byron’s latest problem has proven to be consistency. In the past six races, Byron has two wins, three top-three finishes and three finishes outside the top 10. The wins will do him wonders, but his worse days should still leave him with a top-10 finish.

4. Chase Elliott (Last week: No. 3) Elliott left Talladega with a 21-point lead over Blaney in the standings, bolstering his series-best average finish to 10.5 with a seventh-place result Sunday. The No. 9 Chevrolet has been quiet but steady, finishing inside the top 10 in seven of the 10 races this season. The question remains when he will emerge for a win, but accumulating a significant points advantage certainly doesn’t hurt.

5. Kyle Busch (Last week: No. 4) After a third-place finish at Talladega, Busch has four consecutive top-10 finishes in the No. 18 Toyota. While his 2023 plans became a bit fuzzier over the weekend, Busch’s on-track performance hasn’t slowed. He sits fourth in points and holds the best average finish of his Joe Gibbs Racing stablemates at 11.2, tied with Blaney for third-best in the sport.

6. Alex Bowman (Last week: No. 8) Speaking of average finishes, the No. 48 team holds the second-best average in Cup at 11.1 following a ninth-place finish at Talladega. Bowman has five top 10s in his last six races and the outlier was a 12th-place finish at Martinsville. Bowman enters this weekend as the defending winner at Dover Motor Speedway, meaning his stock may be rising again in one week’s time.

7. Joey Logano (Last week: No. 5) Logano is a three-time winner at Talladega but has crashed out in three of his last four starts at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. The No. 22 team had seemed to overcome a couple of bad weeks by posting finishes of second (Martinsville) and third (Bristol dirt) leading into Talladega. Instead, his 32nd-place result becomes his third outside the top 15 in the last five races.

8. Kyle Larson (Last week: No. 9) Larson was perhaps one move away from earning the first superspeedway win of his career Sunday at Talladega. Instead, the defending Cup champion came home fourth for his first top five on a superspeedway in 31 career starts. After a string of bad races, Larson’s luck may be changing a bit. The No. 5 Chevrolet has finished inside the top five in three of the past four races. Larson won the 2019 fall race at Dover, so maybe the Monster Mile treats him friendlier than other tracks have this season.

9. Tyler Reddick (Last week: No. 6) Reddick was the first car out of the race at Talladega due to engine issues at Lap 31. And on the heels of failing to win at Bristol dirt, Reddick finds himself one point outside the playoff picture with 16 races remaining in the regular season. Obviously, there should be no concern from the No. 8 team that it will find itself inside the bracket. But crew members also know this would have been a non-issue had Chase Briscoe not sent Reddick spinning.

10. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week: Unranked) Truex remains winless on superspeedways in his Cup career, falling to 0-for-69 at Daytona and Talladega. But the 2017 series champion nabbed a fifth-place finish Sunday to snap a cold streak of his own after results of 22nd (Martinsville) and 21st (Bristol dirt) in the two races prior. The No. 19 Toyota has top 10s in four of the past six races, and Truex has had plenty of success at Dover, netting three wins at one of his true home tracks.

Dropped out: Chase Briscoe (Last week: No. 10)

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole


TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole


TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.


Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?


Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.