NASCAR Power Rankings: Joey Logano reaches top spot


After a messy Southern 500 that scrambled the Cup playoff standings, Joey Logano has moved to the top of the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Logano finished a strong fourth amid the turmoil Sunday night in Darlington, leading 64 laps. He also jumped to the top of the playoff leaderboard after the first race of Round 1.

Chase Elliott, who started the playoffs leading the standings and who has dominated the NBC rankings much of the year, had a miserable night in South Carolina. He crashed early, his team wasn’t able to make repairs in the 10-minute time limit, and he finished last. Among the results: He fell from first to ninth in the playoff standings and from first to second in the NBC rankings.

Erik Jones won Sunday night’s race to record his first victory of the season and earn a hearty honorable mention from the rankings.

The second race of the playoffs is scheduled at 3 p.m. ET Sunday (USA Network) at Kansas Speedway.

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. Joey Logano (No. 2 last week)Logano has declared himself the favorite for the championship, and Sunday’s race was certainly a good start in that direction. His consistency in recent weeks has been a positive — five finishes of sixth or better in the past six races.

2. Chase Elliott (No. 1 last week) — The Darlington race was very un-Elliott-like. He lasted only 113 laps, leaving the race after slamming the wall and causing rear suspension damage that couldn’t be repaired within the 10-minute window. A last-place finish sent him spiraling down the playoff standings to ninth.

3. Denny Hamlin (No. 5 last week) — Hamlin jumps two spots in the rankings after finishing second at Darlington. He gained three spots in the playoff standings, moving to third place in pursuit of an ever-elusive Cup championship.

4. Kyle Larson (No. 4 last week) — Larson rebounded from trouble to make up three laps and finish 12th at Darlington.

5. Kevin Harvick (No. 3 last week) — Harvick was on fire at Darlington — and not in a good way. He finished 33rd after parking his flaming car and exiting hurriedly. If you need a reminder of how mad drivers can be in the aftermath of a major issue, replay Harvick’s Darlington interviews.

6. Christopher Bell (No. 7 last week) — Bell had a relatively quiet night at Darlington, and, in the context of a wacky race, that’s a good thing. He didn’t lead any laps but finished fifth, rising six spots in the playoff standings to fourth.

7. Ryan Blaney (No. 6 last week) — Blaney remains the only driver in the playoff standings without a race win. He was never at the front Sunday night and finished 13th.

8. William Byron (unranked last week) — Byron is showing some power at the right time of the season. He won a stage, led 50 laps and finished eighth at Darlington — good enough to jump back into the power rankings and to move up to second in the playoff standings.

9. Kyle Busch (No. 10 last week) — Busch was the Darlington star for much of the night, leading 155 laps and boasting the race’s best car. But smoke coughed from his car late in the night, and he parked with a sour engine. Chances are we’ll hear more from him as the playoffs roll on.

10. Ross Chastain (No. 8 last week) — Chastain’s season is moving in reverse. He was 20th at Darlington (making up three laps to get there) and has seven straight finishes of 18th or worse.

Dropped out: Martin Truex Jr. (No. 9 last week)

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for an infraction found at the R&D Center this week.

NASCAR cited the team for a violation related to the underwing and engine panel.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.



Drivers to watch at World Wide Technology Raceway


After the fireworks from the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile speedway just outside of St. Louis. Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1) marks the second time the Cup Series has raced at this track.

Much is at stake. The race to win the regular season championship has intensified. Tempers are high. The pressure to make the playoffs builds. Ten drivers have wins this season. Twelve races remain in the regular season.


Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 11th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond, Martinsville)
  • Past at WWTR: 12th last year

While a driver coming off back-to-back finishes of 20th or worse might not seem like a frontrunner, it actually does make Larson one. His topsy-turvy season has seen him place outside the top 10 in back-to-back races four times. In the three previous times he had consecutive finishes outside the top 10, he came back to finish second, first and second. Can he keep that streak going this weekend?

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 15th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Past at WWTR: 26th last year

Wallace has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, his best streak in his Cup career. He has climbed from 21st to 15th in the standings during this run.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Darlington I)
  • Past at WWTR: 19th last year

Byron has finished no worse than seventh in the last five races. He’s led nearly 20% of the laps run during that time. Byron has averaged nearly 47 points a race during that streak.


Corey LaJoie

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta I)
  • Past at WWTR: 36th last season

NASCAR’s one-race suspension to Chase Elliott gives LaJoie the chance to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car for the first time. This will be the best car LaJoie has driven in his career. Many eyes will be on him to see how he does.

Ross Chastain

Chastain has finished 29th and 22nd in the last two points races. He’s not gone more than three races without a top-10 finish this season. After his struggles last weekend at Charlotte, Chastain saw his lead cut to one point over Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney in the standings. Five drivers are within 17 points of Chastain in the season standings.

Aric Almirola

  • Points position: 26th
  • Best finish this season: 6th (Martinsville I)
  • Past at WWTR: 5th last year

Almirola has finished 13th or worse in all but one race this season for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the five races since placing sixth at Martinsville, Almirola has finished an average of 21.0.

NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin


NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Hamlin forced Elliott toward the wall. Elliott’s car slapped the wall. Elliott then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.