NASCAR Power Rankings: Christopher Bell rockets upward after Kansas

0 Comments

Thrilling battles and dramatic moments highlighted Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway.

Kurt Busch stormed to Victory Lane for the first time with 23XI Racing, while numerous drivers suffered flat left rear tires in an issue that lasted throughout the weekend. The results made for some drastic shifts in this week’s NBC Sports Power Rankings.

NASCAR Power Rankings

1. Chase Elliott (Last week: No. 1) Elliott suffered his worst finish of the season Sunday at Kansas Speedway after a left rear tire went down and derailed his race. The No. 9 team came home 29th, three laps off the pace, spinning at Lap 197 after the flat tire sent his car for a slide before getting stuck in the grass. Elliott scored five straight top-10 finishes before Kansas and hadn’t finished worse than 14th since Auto Club Speedway at the end of February. It was a disappointing day for the Elliott, but he remains the series’ points leader by a 52-point margin after leading 10 laps and scoring 14 stage points at Kansas.

2. Kyle Busch (Last week: No. 3) While his brother was the one celebrating Sunday, Busch was a steady contender all race long. That continues an impressive stretch of races for the No. 18 Toyota, which has finished third or better in three of the last five races. Busch averaged a 5.3 running position, led 18 laps at Kansas and scored his first stage win of the season. The team needed a rebound after Busch suffered his first DNF of the year when he was collected in Brad Keselowski‘s crash and finished 33rd at Darlington.

3. Ross Chastain (Last week: No. 2) Chastain’s seventh-place finish at Kansas marked his first top-10 finish this season that wasn’t also a top five. The No. 1 Chevrolet had a quiet day by Chastain’s 2022 standards but managed to lead four laps and averaged a 7.1 running position, fourth best of the day.

4. Christopher Bell (Last week: No. 10) Bell launches up the rankings after an exceptional stretch of results, capped by a fifth-place finish at Kansas. The No. 20 Toyota earned the pole in two of the last four races and has top 10s in six of the last eight races, a span dating back to a third-place result at Circuit of the Americas in March. Bell led 37 laps at Kansas, second-most in his career, and averaged the fifth best running position at 8.1. He was also the benefactor of good luck Sunday — he cut a left rear tire under caution but maintained reasonable track position.

5. Kyle Larson (Last week: No. 9) The ups and downs of the No. 5 Chevrolet continued with another peak Sunday, finishing second for his sixth top five of the season. Kansas marked Larson’s fourth finish of sixth or better within the past five races, a stretch interrupted by the engine failure at Darlington that resulted in a season-worst 36th-place finish. Larson maintains the fourth-best average running position of the season at 12.25 through 13 races. He was also nine laps away from becoming the season’s third multi-race winner had Kurt Busch not spoiled the party.

6. Alex Bowman (Last week: No. 7) Bowman’s Kansas race was uneventful, which was exactly what the No. 48 team needed. After a bad day at Darlington sent him home early with a 29th-place finish, Bowman recovered for a ninth-place finish Sunday with a stage point to boot. Bowman averaged a seventh-best 9.8 running position en route to his eighth top 10 in the past 11 races.

7. Joey Logano (Last week: No. 5) Logano’s weekend got off to a poor start and didn’t end much better. The No. 22 Ford was a victim of a flat left rear tire in Saturday’s practice, sending Logano’s car hard into the outside wall. Logano went to a backup car. He scored two stage points in Sunday’s second stage, but the team didn’t have much better luck than that. Logano finished 17th, his third result outside the top 15 in the last four races.

8. Ryan Blaney (Last week: No. 4) Blaney’s lack of early wins might sting worse as the season rolls on. The No. 12 Ford has yet to find Victory Lane and its streak of good finishes has taken a hit. Blaney finished 12th at Kansas despite an 8.2 average running position and leading a lap. The past four races have seen Blaney finish outside the top 10. His best result in that stretch an 11th-place finish at Talladega.

9. William Byron (Last week: No. 6) Byron can’t seem to buy a break lately. While leading at Kansas, the No. 24 Chevrolet had a flat left rear tire and was relegated to a 16th-place finish. The speed has been there for Byron, who nearly won at Darlington before being punted by Logano in the last lap and a half and finished 13th. Perhaps more frustrating for Byron is that 13th is still his best finish since winning at Martinsville six races ago.

10. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week: Unranked) Truex continues to prove his cars are plenty capable of contending. His problem lately has been luck. The No. 19 Toyota spun at Darlington to trigger a late multi-car incident that took him out one week after a likely fourth-place finish became a 12th-place finish at Dover due to a run-in with Ross Chastain. At Kansas, Truex suffered a flat tire one lap before the end of Stage 2, but the No. 19 team rallied for a sixth-place finish.

Dropped out: Tyler Reddick (Last week: No. 8).