NASCAR Power Rankings: Joey Logano rises to the top


Joey Logano stormed into Phoenix last weekend with the idea of taking home a second NASCAR Cup Series championship, and he checked every box — taking the pole, dominating the race and winning the title.

Those wishing for a dramatic finish to the season — with four cars crossing the finish line side-by-side or one contender spinning another in the fourth turn to win — instead got Logano coasting to a victory and solidifying his stature as one of the sport’s elite drivers.

He ends the season holding the big trophy and, of course, sitting atop the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. Joey Logano (No. 3 last week) — At only 32 years old, Logano figures to add more championships over the next decade on his way to a spot in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

2. Ross Chastain (No. 1 last week) — Chastain’s “Hail Melon” Martinsville move will live in replays for years. His season was magical — and quite unexpected.

3. Chase Elliott (No. 4 last week) — No one won as many races this season as Elliott (five). His playoffs weren’t sensational, but it would have been interesting to see how he finished Sunday minus the contact with Ross Chastain.

4. Christopher Bell (No. 2 last week) — Bell won two “must-win” races in the playoffs but couldn’t score the third.

5. Kyle Larson (No. 5 last week) — Larson had 10 wins last season and three this year. He won a championship last year but didn’t this year. It will be interesting to follow how he rebounds next season.

MORE: Kyle Busch closes out long run with Gibbs on emotional day

6. Ryan Blaney (No. 7 last week) — Blaney’s wacky season yielded 12 top fives (more than champion Joey Logano) and 17 top 10s (the same as Logano) but no wins (other than the All-Star Race). He was the only driver in the top 16 in points without a victory.

7. Denny Hamlin (No. 6 last week) — Hamlin ended another winning season without winning that elusive first championship.

8. William Byron (No. 8 last week) — Byron won twice (Atlanta and Martinsville) and enjoyed another season bouncing around the top level of the sport.

MORE: Brad Keselowski focused on the future

9. Chase Briscoe (No. 9 last week) — Briscoe surprised many advancing through the playoffs and finished the year with a strong fourth at Phoenix.

10. Kevin Harvick (unranked last week) — The sport’s senior citizen and, at times, outspoken advocate and critic, didn’t shine in the playoffs but closed the year well with a fifth at Phoenix.

Dropped out: Daniel Suarez (No. 10 last week).

COTA Xfinity starting lineup: AJ Allmendinger takes pole


AJ Allmendinger, who won this race a year ago, will start on the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas.

Allmendinger earned the pole with a lap of 92.173 mph Friday on the 20-turn, 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Xfinity starting lineup

He will be joined on the front row Sammy Smith (91.827 mph).
Ty Gibbs (91.665) will start third. Sheldon Creed (91.652) qualified fourth. Parker Kligerman (91.195) will start fifth.

Cup driver William Byron will start ninth. Byron’s time was disallowed for cutting the esses. Cole Custer, who will start 10th, didn’t make a lap in the final round of qualifying.

Cup driver Aric Almirola (91.269) qualified 13th. Truck Series racer Carson Hocevar (90.669) will start 17th. Alex Labbe (90.476) will start 23rd. He’s filling in for Josh Williams, who is serving a one-race suspension for parking his car at the start/finish line of last weekend’s race at Atlanta.

COTA Truck starting lineup: Ross Chastain wins pole


Ross Chastain will start on the pole for Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas.

Chastain earned the top starting spot in Friday’s qualifying with a lap of 91.877 mph. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch (91.490 mph).

More: COTA Truck starting lineup

Ty Majeski qualified third with a lap of 91.225 mph. Rookie Nick Sanchez (90.993) will start fourth, and Christian Eckes (90.937) will complete the top five.

Alex Bowman failed to make the race. Bowman had a flat right front on his qualifying lap.

Tyler Reddick leads Cup practice at COTA


Tyler Reddick posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Cup practice at Circuit of the Americas.

Reddick, who won two road course races last season, topped the field in his 23XI Racing Toyota with a lap of 92.989 mph. Kyle Larson was next, posting a lap of 92.618 mph around the 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Cup practice results

Ross Chastain, who won this race a year ago, was third on the speed chart in practice with a lap of 92.520 mph. He was followed by Kyle Busch (92.498 mph) and Daniel Suarez (92.461 mph).

Jordan Taylor, subbing for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, was 10th on the speed chart in practice after a lap of 92.404 mph.

Former world champion Jenson Button, driving for Rick Ware Racing, was 28th in practice with a lap of 91.759 mph. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, driving the Project 91 car for Trackhouse Racing, was 32nd in practice after a lap of 91.413 mph.

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, driving in his first race for Legacy Motor Club since the Daytona 500, was 36th in practice after a lap of 91.072 mph. IndyCar driver Conor Daly was last among the 39 cars in practice with a lap of 90.095 mph.

Cup qualifying is Saturday. The series races Sunday.


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


Austin Hill, the dominant driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series through the early weeks of the season, will be looking for his first Xfinity road course win Saturday.

Hill has won three of the season’s first five races, scoring victories at Daytona, Las Vegas and Atlanta.

Hill has been close in previous road course runs. He has a second at COTA, a third at Portland, a fourth at Road America and a ninth at Indianapolis.

MORE: Dr. Diandra takes a look at top Cup road course drivers

Kyle Busch and AJ Allmendinger own wins in the previous Xfinity races at COTA.

Allmendinger and three other Cup Series regulars — Aric Almirola, William Byron and Ty Gibbs — are scheduled to race in the Xfinity event.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 5:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled at 5:19 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 2 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Jordan Thiessen of Pit Boss Grills at 5 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by recording artist Payton Keller at 5:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 46 laps (156 miles) on the 3.41-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 14. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 5 p.m. … NASCAR RaceDay airs at 4 p.m. on FS1. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. and can be heard at …SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. Temperature of 82 at race time. No chance of rain.

LAST TIME: AJ Allmendinger won last March’s Xfinity race at COTA. Austin Hill was two seconds behind in second place. Cole Custer finished third.