Sunday night’s All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway brought a little chaos to the table.
NASCAR Power Rankings
1. Chase Elliott (Last week: No. 1) Elliott may not have been a frontrunner at the start of Sunday’s exhibition race, running sixth at the time of his crash, but the No. 9 Chevrolet remains among the most consistent in the series. Elliott is averaging a 10.4 running position this season, second only to Blaney’s 10.3, and leads the points standings by 52 points over the No. 12 Ford. Coupled with a Dover victory, Elliott enters the second half of the regular season with plenty to smile about despite his All-Star DNF.
2. Kyle Busch (Last week: No. 2) The 2022 edition of the All-Star Race looked like Busch’s to lose as the No. 18 Toyota led each of the opening 47 laps at Texas. That was until his right rear tire flattened at the exit of Turn 4, slowing in front of the field and becoming a ramp for Ross Chastain‘s No. 1 Chevrolet. While the result is disappointing — and the crash frightening — this blip on the radar shouldn’t be expected to hamper Busch. The two-time Cup champion has finished inside the top 10 in six of the last seven points races, the lone exception was when he was collected in Brad Keselowski‘s crash at Darlington.
3. Ross Chastain (Last week: No. 3) While Kyle Busch dominated the night, Chastain ran well inside the top five in Texas. Before he took flight over Busch’s car, Chastain was running third, showing the speed we’ve come to expect from his No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet. Chastain, whose two wins this year are tied for the series’ most, has three top fives and four top-10 finishes in his last six starts. Expect more of the same this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
4. Ryan Blaney (Last week: No. 8) The No. 12 car is finally back in Victory Lane. No, it’s not a points race and doesn’t lock Blaney into the playoffs, but a win in the All-Star Race provides a much-needed boost to Blaney after some of his early season speed appeared to fade. Blaney still has work to do in points races — he hasn’t scored a top-10 finish since finishing fifth at Bristol dirt — so perhaps a Texas triumph in which he led the final 84 of 140 laps can help Team Penske turn its program around at 1.5-mile tracks.
5. Christopher Bell (Last week: No. 4) Like most of his top-five companions this week, Bell found big trouble in the All-Star Race. The No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was second when he lost control at the exit of Turn 4 in Texas, sending him into the outside wall and out of contention. Still, the third-year driver rebounded to finish 10th and continues to impress. Bell has finished seventh or better in four of the past five races.
6. Joey Logano (Last week: No. 7) Logano is starting to regain the momentum he lost over the last month. His Darlington win was the exception in a four-race span that saw three finishes of 17th or worse for the No. 22 bunch. A prime pit stop between Sunday’s second and third stages gave Logano the third starting position for the All-Star Race’s final stage, and Logano capitalized by finishing fourth. Results need to better and more consistent — that 17th-place finish came in the most recent points race at Kansas — but Sunday was a good showing for the 2018 Cup champion.
7. Kyle Larson (Last week: No. 5) Larson’s All-Star Race came to an abrupt end when his right front tire failed exiting Turn 4 while he was second. But the series’ defending champion has quietly excelled in recent weeks. In the past five races, his only finish outside the top six was a 36th at Darlington due to a blown motor. A runner-up finish at Kansas bodes well for his chances in the Coca-Cola 600 this weekend in Charlotte.
8. Alex Bowman (Last week: No. 6) Bowman had a quiet yet productive All-Star weekend and continues to produce strong results in the No. 48 Chevrolet. The Las Vegas winner has seven top 10s in his last nine races, a stretch dating back to a 10th-place finish at Atlanta in March. Bowman hasn’t shown race-winning speed in some time, but good, consistent finishes have him on the right track.
9. William Byron (Last week: No. 9) Byron’s hot streak has cooled considerably, and he hasn’t scored a top-10 finish since his Martinsville win. But the No. 24 car is still showing up to the track with fast cars: Byron was a lap and a half away from winning at Darlington and led at Kansas when he became one of many plagued by a flat tire.
10. Denny Hamlin (Last week: Unranked) For the first time this season, we welcome Hamlin into the NBC Sports Power Rankings. No, his runner-up finish in the All-Star Race doesn’t mean anything much. But for a team that has struggled to finish, Hamlin will take what he can get right now. The Richmond winner has been plenty fast in recent weeks, leading a combined 109 laps between Dover and Darlington, and finally got his second top-10 finish of the year at Kansas where he finished fourth. Is his bad luck finally over?
Dropped out: Martin Truex Jr. (Last week: No. 10).