NASCAR Power Rankings

Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin climbs to No. 1

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Denny Hamlin finished second to Chase Elliott on Sunday in the inaugural Cup race on the Daytona road course but it was good enough to vault Hamlin to No. 1 in this week’s NBC Sports Power Rankings.

Hamlin ends Kevin Harvick‘s six-week reign atop the rankings. Harvick falls to third behind Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.

NASCAR heads to Dover International Speedway for a busy weekend. The Truck Series races Friday. Saturday and Sunday features Xfinity/Cup doubleheaders. The Xfinity and Cup races will be on NBCSN both days.

Here is this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings:

1. Denny Hamlin (Last week No. 2): His runner-up finish at Daytona is the 10th time this season Hamlin has placed first or second. That’s more than 40% of the time.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 3): Has scored five consecutive third-place finishes. Can he make it a half dozen on Saturday at Dover? He finished first at Dover in May 2019 and placed second there in Oct. 2019. Third would only seem natural at this point.

3. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 1): Saw his streak of nine consecutive top-five finishes end on the Daytona road course but what a run it was. Time to start a new one for the driver who has completed all but two of the 5,871 laps run this season.

4. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 7): Would be No. 1 based on road course performances. Daytona win was his third road course victory in a row.

5. Joey Logano (Last week No. 5): Has scored four consecutive top-10 finishes, one off the longest active streak by Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.

5. Austin Cindric (Last week No. 8): Five wins in his last six Xfinity starts. After spotting Chase Briscoe five wins, he’s now tied Briscoe for most victories in the Xfinity Series this season.

7. Brad Keselowski (Last week unranked): Has six top 10s in the last eight races.

7. Kaz Grala (Last week unranked): Remarkable job to finish seventh in his Cup debut in place of Austin Dillon, who had missed the race because he tested positive for COVID-19.

7. Jimmie Johnson (Last week unranked): Scored his first top-five finish last weekend since late May. Now off to one of his best tracks. It’s crunch time to make the playoffs. Can he do so?

10. Aric Almirola (Last week No. 4): Has 10 top 10s in the last 12 races but coming off a 24th-place finish on the Daytona road course.

10. William Byron (Last week unranked): Steady performances have kept him holding on to what is the final playoff spot with three races left in the regular season. His eighth-place finish at Daytona marked his sixth finish of 8th-14th in the last seven races.

Dropped out: Kyle Busch (Last week 6th), Kurt Busch (9th), Matt DiBenedetto (10th)

Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski remain 1-2

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Brad Keselowski is getting closer to reaching the top of the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings, but he remains behind Kevin Harvick, who holds the top spot for a fifth consecutive week.

Keselowski is coming off a victory last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and a contract extension, which was announced the day after the race.

Since the season resumed in May, Harvick and Keselowski have had similar stats. Harvick has four wins since May; Keselowski has three. Harvick has six finishes of third or better; Keselowski has five such finishes. Harvick has 13 top 10s in 16 races; Keselowski has the same total.

Cup heads to Michigan International Speedway this weekend for a doubleheader. Saturday’s race is at 4 p.m. ET. Sunday’s race is at 4:30 p.m. ET. Both races will be on NBCSN.

Here is this week’s power rankings:

  1. Kevin Harvick (Last week: No. 1): Has seven consecutive top-five finishes and might have challenged for his fifth win of the season had a pit call not taken him out of sequence and forced him to pit under green. Good chance his streak continues this weekend at Michigan. Since the track was repaved in 2012, Harvick has 10 top-five finishes in 16 starts.
  2. Brad Keselowski (Last week: No. 2): Scores at least three wins for the fifth consecutive year. The Michigan driver has never won a Cup race at Michigan. He has three top 10s there in his last four starts. 
  3. Denny Hamlin ( Last week: No. 3): Was in contention for his sixth win of the season before losing a duel with Brad Keselowski at New Hampshire. Thirteen of the 22 lead changes were between Hamlin and Keselowski. They combined to lead 186 of the last 198 laps. He has four wins, seven finishes of third or better and 10 top 10s since the season resumed in May.
  4. Aric Almirola (Last week: No. 4): Has a career-high nine consecutive top-10 finishes. Can he make it a perfect 10 Saturday at Michigan? He has only one top 10 at the track in his last five starts. 
  5. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week: No. 7): Has three finishes of third or better in the last four races. Scored third at New Hampshire despite penalty for an uncontrolled tire. His eight top-five finishes at Michigan are second only to the nine he has had at Kansas for most among active tracks.
  6. Cole Custer (Last week: No. 5): Has four top 10s in the last five races, including his Kentucky win. 
  7. Tyler Reddick (Last week: No. 9): Has four top 10s in the last five races. He won the Michigan Xfinity race in June 2019.
  8. Joey Logano (Last week: Unranked): Has two top-five finishes in the last three races. He won at Michigan in June 2019.
  9. Chase Elliott (Last week: Unranked): Has four finishes between ninth and 12th in the last five races. 
  10. Matt DiBenedetto (Last week: Unranked): Has two finishes of sixth of better in the the last four races. 

Fell out of rankings: Kyle Busch (No. 5 last week), Austin Cindric (No. 7) and Austin Hill (No. 10)

NBC Sports Power Rankings heading into Pocono

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Martin Truex Jr. is in and Kyle Busch is out as No. 1 in this week’s NBC Sports Power Rankings.

Truex has been riding a hot hand of late. His Coca-Cola 600 victory was his third in the last five points races.

Truex makes the biggest jump from last week, going from ninth to No. 1 this week. Conversely, Kevin Harvick makes the biggest drop from last week, going from No. 2 to a tie for ninth this week.

Here’s how this week’s Power Rankings shape up:

1. Martin Truex Jr. (39 points): Was like a mail delivery man at Charlotte: Didn’t let heat, nor gloom of night nor a blown tire or contact with another car keep him from his appointed rounds and into victory lane. Three wins in the last five races makes you the sport’s top dog. Last week: 9th.

(tie) 2. Kyle Busch (33 points): Too little, too late in Sunday’s race. But he shouldn’t be too disappointed. He earned his seventh top five and 12th top-10 finish in the first 13 races of the season. Nobody else comes close. Still, with Truex’s success, Busch is no longer No. 1 within his own organization. Last week: 1st.

(tie) 2. Chase Elliott (33 points): Best Chevrolet driver of the bunch. Led a Hendrick Motorsports juggernaut that placed all four of its drivers in the top 10. Remains the only HMS (and Chevrolet) driver with a win this season. Has not finished outside the top five since winning at Talladega. That’s four top fives in a row. Last week: 5th.

4. Joey Logano (30 points): Maybe, just maybe, if the race would have gone into overtime, he might have had a chance of overtaking Truex for the win. Nonetheless, it was his third runner-up of the season and seventh top-five (including his win earlier in the year at Las Vegas). Things are looking very good for the defending series champion. Last week: 4th.

5. Alex Bowman (22 points): Failed to make it four runner-up finishes in a row in points races, but a seventh in the longest race of the season is nothing to be ashamed about. Last week: 6th.

6. Jimmie Johnson (14 points): The seven-time Cup champ is slowly getting back into his old form. We may sound like a broken record, but it’s just a matter of time before Johnson finally breaks the longest winless streak of his career (which has reached 72 races, dating back to spring 2017 at Dover). Last week: Not ranked.

7. Chris Buescher (14 points): Has earned back-to-back top-10 finishes in his last two points races. Still has a way to go – he’s 22nd in the standings this week, 55 points behind 16th-ranked Kyle Larson – but the little team that could is getting it done. Last week: Not ranked.

8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (10 points): Earned his first top-five of the season and first since last fall’s playoff race at Talladega. If you’re looking for a dark horse pairing to make the playoffs this season, keep your eye on Stenhouse and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ryan Newman. Last week: Not ranked.

(tie) 9. William Byron (7 points): Earned his second pole of the season and third top-10 finish of the season at Charlotte. Is starting to click with crew chief Chad Knaus. Last week: 8th.

(tie) 9. Kevin Harvick (7 points): Some drivers would take a 15-race winless streak but for Kevin Harvick such a streak seems long. Last week: 2nd.

Others receiving votes: Tyler Reddick (5 points), Brad Keselowski (5 points), Justin Allgaier (4 points).

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NBC Sports Power Rankings heading into Coca-Cola 600

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After finishing third in the All-Star Race, Kyle Busch is back atop this week’s NBC Sports Power Rankings – although it was not a unanimous decision.

The real story this week is Kyle Larson. Although it was a non-points event, Larson’s win in the All-Star Race propelled him from not even in last week’s rankings to No. 3 this week. Larson is one of three drivers who went from unranked last week to into this week’s top 10. Also making a big jump from last week was Kevin Harvick (from 7th to 2nd).

Several drivers took big drops from last week, including Chase Elliott (1st to 5th), Alex Bowman (2nd to 6th), Clint Bowyer (4th to tied for 10th) and Brad Keselowski (5th to out of the top 10).

Here’s how this week’s Power Rankings look heading into the Coca-Cola 600:

1. Kyle Busch (38 points): Finished third in All-Star Race but climbs the rankings for his rant on the radio late in the race. If you can’t win .… But he did win the Truck race and finished the year winning all five of his starts. Last week: 3rd.

2. Kevin Harvick (32 points): Once again, falls short of victory lane. Pit crew mistakes again. Will they finally get things fixed in time for the race that typically has the most pit stops of the season in it? Last week: 7th.

3. Kyle Larson (30 points): Will the $1 million man build upon his riches to earn some wins that will actually count towards the playoffs? Last week: unranked.

4. Joey Logano (24 points): Strong run at the end to secure top-five finish in All-Star Race. Could be a big factor in the 600. Last week: 8th.

5. Chase Elliott (22 points): Things didn’t go his way. Hey, he has 600 miles this weekend to make things happen. Last week: 1st.

6. Alex Bowman (17 points): With three straight runner-ups and eighth in the All-Star Race, a win could be right around the corner – perhaps as early as Sunday. Last week: 2nd.

7. Bubba Wallace (14 points): Storybook night – stage win in Open and fifth-place finish in All-Star Race – gave him an emotional boost that may lead to better things to come. Last week: unranked.

8. William Byron (10 points): Strong move to win the first stage in Monster Open and then finishes the night with a ninth-place finish in the All-Star Race. Last week: unranked.

9. Martin Truex Jr. (9 points): Fast car but then later had issues and finished 10th. Last week: 9th.

(tie) 10. Clint Bowyer (7 points): Punched his ticket to a 12th-place finish, then went out and punched Ryan Newman on pit road. Will their feud flare up again on Sunday? Last week: 4th.

(tie) 10. Kurt Busch (7 points): Late crash left him with a disappointing 17th-place finish (out of 19 drivers). Look for a big comeback in the 600. Given his consistency this season, he’s overdue for a win. Last week: 6th.

Others receiving votes: Brad Keselowski (4 points), Aric Almirola (3 points), Austin Dillon (2 points), Ross Chastain (1 point).

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings heading into All-Star Race

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For the first time since after the Atlanta race, Kyle Busch is no longer atop the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Busch is out (and drops to third) and Chase Elliott is in as the unanimous pick of NBC Sports’ NASCAR writers for this week’s No. 1 spot. Elliott moves up from third place in last week’s rankings.

Clint Bowyer makes the biggest gain, going from outside the top 10 last week to a solid No. 4 this week. Also making a big jump: Alex Bowman from sixth last week to second this week.

Conversely, Dover winner Martin Truex Jr. suffered the biggest drop, falling from second last week to ninth this week. Also, Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin both dropped out of the rankings entirely.

Here’s how this week’s Power Rankings look heading into this weekend’s All-Star Race at Charlotte:

1. Chase Elliott (40 points): Has led 235 laps over the last three races and finished in the top five in each. Last week: 3rd.

2. Alex Bowman (30 points): Three 2s (runner-up finishes) for the double-8 car. That’s a full house poker hand but still leaves him short of winning. Last week: 6th.

3. Kyle Busch (29 points): It’s tough to lose the top spot in the rankings, but just like his disappointing finish at Kansas, Busch will bounce back and be a man on a mission in the Coca-Cola 600. Last week: 1st.

4. Clint Bowyer (27 points): Almost finally got that first elusive Cup win at his home track in Kansas. Is on a roll of late, with six top 10s in his last seven starts. One of the most underrated drivers out there right now. Last week: 11th (others receiving votes).

5. Brad Keselowski (24 points): Lost somewhat in all the post-race celebration is Keselowski is now tied with Kyle Busch for most wins (three each) this season. Who will wind up with the most wins by season’s end? Last week: (tie) 7th.

6. Kurt Busch (21 points): Earned his eighth top 10 of the season. Has not had consecutive finishes outside the top 10 through 12 races. Consistency has become his middle name in 2019. Just a matter of time before that consistency pays off with a win. Last week: (tie) 7th.

7. Kevin Harvick (16 points): Does Harvick have a black cloud following him? The guy can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to winning this year. But there is a silver lining to that cloud with his consistency (including five fourth-place finishes). Last week: (tie) 4th.

8. Joey Logano (13 points): Damage to car early hurt him at Kansas and had him falling down the running order and these standings. Last week: (tie) 4th.

9. Martin Truex Jr. (11 points): Followed Richmond win by finishing 20th at Talladega. Followed Dover win by placing 19th at Dover. Can you say roller coaster ride? Last week: 2nd.

10. Erik Jones (8 points): Making a strong push for a signed extension at Joe Gibbs Racing. His strong finish at Kansas will help his job security, but he needs a lot more finishes like that. Last week: 14th (others receiving votes).

Others receiving votes: Ross Chastain (3 points), Jimmie Johnson (1 point).