NASCAR Talk

Kyle Busch opens season atop NBC Sports Power Rankings

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NBC Sports kicks off a new weekly feature today with Power Rankings. The NASCAR Talk staff has come together to give its take on who’s hot, warm and even lukewarm.

Power Rankings will appear each Wednesday morning. Also on Wednesdays, the NASCAR America analysts will dissect the rankings and give their own takes.

Any driver in the Cup, Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series is eligible for these rankings.

Kyle Busch is at the top of the first edition of Power Rankings, just in time for Sunday’s Daytona 500:

1. Kyle Busch: Comes into the season with the most Cup wins in the last four years

2. Jimmie Johnson: Speedweeks 2019 couldn’t have started any better.

3. Brad Keselowski (tie): He was dicing with Menard for a while in the Clash and remains an odds-on favorite for Sunday

3. Joey Logano (tie): His title defense started without a major crash, which is more than can be said for many contenders

5. Kurt Busch: Among the strongest Chevrolets and seems to be blending well into Chip Ganassi Racing

6. Kevin Harvick: Should have most Cup wins last four years, but has left several wins on the table

7. Paul Menard: The Clash didn’t end the way he wanted, but Wood Brothers Racing can now be considered a Daytona 500 favorite

8. Martin Truex Jr. (tie): New team, same results. See ya in Victory Lane several times in 2019

8. William Byron (tie): Chad Knaus got him the Daytona 500 pole. Can he now get Byron the win on Sunday?

10. Chase Elliott: Can he and Johnson lead a Hendrick juggernaut in the 500 like they did in qualifying?

Others receiving votes: Alex Bowman, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, Aric Almirola, Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin and Brett Moffitt.

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NASCAR America: Tony Stewart: Rather be in pain at track than comfortable at home

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Tony Stewart talked with NBCN’s Kelli Stavast last weekend in Las Vegas about how he’s looking forward to the freedom of retirement and why it’s important to be at the track while he recovers from injuries.

NASCARTalk: NASCAR looking for more lead changes (VIDEO)

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Nate Ryan joins Jenna Corrado to explain how NASCAR wants to create more action at the front of the field and also discuss Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s engagement, as well as the Sprint Cup Playoffs.

NASCAR Talk video: Expect feuds between drivers to boil over this weekend at Martinsville

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The race at Martinsville Speedway marks the first short-track race of the NASCAR season and NASCAR Talk’s Nate Ryan says due to the close proximity while driving, feuds between drivers are bound to spark and boil over.

57th Daytona 500 NASCAR Talk content recap

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In case you missed any of NASCAR Talk’s extensive on-site coverage from Daytona Beach for the 2015 Speedweeks, we’ve compiled a post recap from Nate Ryan, Dustin Long, Jerry Bonkowski and Chris Estrada below following Sunday’s 57th Daytona 500:

POST-RACE
Secret to Joey Logano’s Daytona 500 victory? It was what he did off the track
After Daytona 500 win, Joey Logano has plenty of texts, emails to answer (SOCIAL)
Where you can find Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano on radio, TV this week
Ryan: A maturing Joey Logano brings the party to Team Penske at Daytona
The 57th Daytona 500 by the numbers; Unofficial Results, Winnings and Stats
Regan Smith finishes 16th in quiet fill-in role for Kurt Busch
Matt Crafton relishes Daytona 500 run filling in for Kyle Busch
Despite finishing second, Kevin Harvick happy with Daytona 500 effort
Denny Hamlin strong again in Daytona 500, but win proves elusive
Final Daytona 500 farewell isn’t what Jeff Gordon hoped for
“Real bad decision” costs Dale Earnhardt Jr. a shot at Daytona 500 repeat

DAYTONA 500 RACE REPORT
Joey Logano holds off Kevin Harvick to win 57th Daytona 500

IN-RACE UPDATES
Brad Keselowski blows engine with 40 laps to go; McMurray, Newman involved (VIDEO)
Tony Stewart’s Daytona 500 woes continue with 42nd place finish
Jeff Gordon dominant so far in expected final Daytona 500 (Halfway Update)
Stewart, Kenseth, Blaney in first wreck of Daytona 500

SUNDAY PRE-RACE POSTS
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s secret weapon on spotter’s stand: T.J. Majors
Drivers raring to go for 57th Daytona 500 (SOCIAL)
Matt Crafton on Daytona 500 start: “I’ve been waiting for this my entire life”
Harvick criticizes tracks for SAFER inaction
Daytona 500: Start time, lineup, TV info and more
Daytona International Speedway to cover walls with SAFER barriers

SELECTED OTHER PRE-RACE POSTS
Forbes: Hendrick most valuable NASCAR team, Dale Earnhardt Jr. highest earning driver
Danica Patrick adamant she’s not leaving NASCAR for F1: “I wouldn’t go anyway”
Hamlin, Kahne lead final Daytona 500 practice
Uniformity: Here’s how the Daytona 500 fire suits look
NASCAR announces 20 nominees for 2016 Hall of Fame class
Gentlemen, start your engineers: College educations increasingly calling the shots
Is your favorite driver heading for a crash in Daytona 500?

BUSCH BROTHERS UPDATES
Kyle Busch expected to remain hospitalized in Daytona Beach, Fla. for second consecutive night
Kyle and Samantha Busch show support from hospital for No. 18 team (PHOTO); Samantha also updates
Joe Gibbs provides update on Kyle Busch’s injuries
Kyle Busch’s Super Late Model driver wins at New Smyrna
Kurt Busch’s second appeal denied
Kyle Busch out indefinitely after suffering compound fracture of right leg in Daytona crash
Kyle Busch will not race in Daytona 500
Kyle Busch taken off racetrack on stretcher after horrific crash (VIDEO)
Panel denies Kurt Busch appeal
Questions and answers about appeal process
Regan Smith believes he can win in place of Kurt Busch
Regan Smith to drive for suspended Kurt Busch
Attorney: Kurt Busch to “immediately” appeal NASCAR suspension
NASCAR indefinitely suspends Kurt Busch (VIDEO)
Early report foretold Kurt Busch’s suspension from NASCAR
Commissioner finds Kurt Busch’s version less credible than Patricia Driscoll’s
Kurt Busch’s attorney files motion to reopen protective order hearing

SATURDAY XFINITY POSTS
Roush Fenway Racing young guns flex muscle in Xfinity opener
Ryan Reed scores first career Xfinity win with last-lap pass (VIDEO)
Kyle Busch taken off racetrack on stretcher after horrific crash (VIDEO)
Regan Smith flips in big Xfinity crash at Daytona
Austin Dillon wins pole for Xfinity opener
Kyle Busch criticizes group qualifying after six-car Xfinity crash
Title sponsor Xfinity reveals new series trophy

FRIDAY CAMPING WORLD TRUCK POSTS
Tyler Reddick wins Truck Series opener
Big One strikes in Truck Series opener
Ty Dillon wins pole for Truck opener

BUDWEISER DUEL POSTS
One day later, Danica Patrick still frustrated over Denny Hamlin and nearly missing Daytona 500
Budwieser Duel 150 wrecks affect nearly one third of Daytona 500 field
Danica on ride into field: “It felt dire”
Making Daytona 500 field emotional for some drivers
Starting lineup for 57th Daytona 500, courtesy of Duel results
Despite Duel win, Daytona 500 win won’t be easier for Dale Jr.
What Denny and Danica said to each other after Budweiser Duel
Johnson wins second Duel; Denny and Danica collide, but she still makes field
Four-car wreck brings out red flag in Budweiser Duel 2
Dale Jr. rallies to win Budweiser Duel 1
Start times, TV info and lineup for Budweiser Duel

Further posts from Daytona can be found by clicking here, for all posts compiled from Thursday and earlier in the week.