This is a week of celebration for Cup driver Daniel Suarez, who logged his first series victory Sunday in a runaway win at Sonoma Raceway. The series is idle this week, giving Suarez plenty of time to soak in the adulation and enhance the joy.
Suarez also can enjoy another breakthrough. His strong Sonoma run earned him the 10th-place spot in this week’s NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings. The top of the chart welcomes Ross Chastain, Suarez’s Trackhouse Racing teammate.
NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings
1. Ross Chastain (Last week: No. 2) — After answering questions for much of the week about his Gateway run-ins with Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin, Chastain had a fine Sunday at Sonoma. He ran in the shadow of his Trackhouse Racing teammate, winner Daniel Suarez, but came home seventh. He leads all drivers with seven top-five finishes.
2. Kyle Busch (Last week: No. 1) — Busch had a rough Sunday at Sonoma, as did every other Toyota driver. Busch finished 30th after some on-track issues, and he complained about his car not turning well. Although his Sonoma finish was one of his worst of the season, he continues to lead all drivers in top-10 runs with 11.
3. Joey Logano (Last week: No. 3) — Logano finished 17th at Sonoma, but his team used smart mid-race strategy to earn a stage win. He remains one of only four drivers with two victories this season.
4. Ryan Blaney (Last week: No. 5) — Blaney was one of five Ford drivers in the top six Sunday. He finished sixth and has eight top-10 runs this year. He failed to lead a lap but has been up front in 13 of 16 races.
5. Chase Elliott (Last week: No. 7) — Elliott led 26 laps Sunday on the way to a seventh-place finish, joining teammate William Byron in the top 10. The series point leader, Elliott has 10 top-10 runs.
6. Kyle Larson (Last week: No. 6) — Larson won the Sonoma pole and stayed out front for the first 26 laps before fading to a 15th-place finish after losing a wheel on track. Next on the schedule is Nashville Superspeedway, where Larson won last year.
7. Christopher Bell (Last week: 4) — Bell entered Sonoma with five straight top-10 finishes but struggled on the road, coming home 27th.
8. William Byron (Last week: unranked) — Byron took ninth place at Sonoma with a steady run, scoring his first top 10 since his April victory at Martinsville. He leads the series in laps led with 570.
9. Denny Hamlin (Last week: 8) — Hamlin struggled at Sonoma and has finished below 30th in his last two races. Bright side: No dust-up with Ross Chastain.
10. Daniel Suarez (Last week: unranked) — Smash the pinata! Suarez seeks to turn around a tough season with the best medicine — his first career victory.