NBC Sports Power Rankings

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick back to No. 1

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Martin Truex Jr.’s reign atop the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings lasted all of one week. Kevin Harvick returns to the No. 1 spot — where he had been the previous two weeks before Truex overtook him — in this week’s balloting.

But it’s close: While Truex was a unanimous choice among the NBC Sports NASCAR writers last week, Harvick was not an all-in pick this week. In fact, Harvick beat Truex by two points.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval race winner Chase Elliott made the biggest jump in the rankings, going from being unranked to No. 3 this week, just three points behind Harvick and only one point behind Truex.

The biggest drops were Denny Hamlin (tied for second last week to tied for 10th this week) and Kyle Busch (tied for fourth last week to tied for 10th this week).

Here are this week’s rankings:

1. Kevin Harvick (35 points): Third-place run at Roval marked his ninth top 10 in the last 10 races. Last week: Tied for fourth.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (33 points): So much for him winning three or even four in a row. Still, had a strong run on the Roval. A win at his home track of Dover would lock him into the Round of 8. Last week: First place.

3. Chase Elliott (32 points): Honestly, could anyone have predicted he’d bounce back from his wreck with 44 laps left – which dropped him from first to 37th place – and wind up winning? One of the best comebacks NASCAR has seen in years. Could be the key motivating factor that sends him all the way to Miami. Last week: Unranked.

4. Brad Keselowski (29 points): Fifth-place finish at the Roval was his fifth top-five result in the last six races. He’s under the radar but should not be overlooked. Last week: Tied for second.

5. Alex Bowman (19 points): Charged from the rear to a second-place finish in a backup car while feeling sick after being involved in two spins. That deserves recognition. Last week: Unranked.

6. Clint Bowyer (17 points): Had strong run when he needed it to advance to the next round. Now can he and his team repeat that effort in the second round? Top 10 finishes in five of his last six races. Has potential to be Cinderella story of playoffs. Last week: Ninth.

7. William Byron (13 points): Top 10s in three of last four races, but has to pick up performance even more if he hopes to advance to Round of 8. Last week: Unranked.

8. Kyle Larson (12 points): Penalty hurt him at Roval but he’s moving on to the second round, so there’s that. With teammate Kurt Busch now eliminated, Larson is carrying the championship torch for Chip Ganassi Racing. Can he deliver? Last week: Sixth.

9. Ryan Blaney (8 points): Even though he has top 10s in three of last four races, he’s in same boat as guys like Byron, Bowyer, Bowman and Larson: he has to significantly pick up his performance if he hopes to advance to the next round. Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 10. Denny Hamlin (7 points): Not a memorable run at the Roval but it’s all about surviving and advancing in the playoffs. Sitting fairly pretty heading into start of Round of 12 this weekend at Dover. Last week: Tied for second.

(tie) 10. Kyle Busch (7 points): Winless streak has now hit 15 races. Roval mechanical failure not his fault. Saving grace was all the playoff points he’s earned, allowing him to be No. 1 in the Cup standings heading to Dover. But he needs a win desperately. Can it come at Dover? Last week: Tied for fourth.

Others receiving votes: Jimmie Johnson (4 points), Michael McDowell (2 points), Joey Logano (1 point), AJ Allmendinger (1 point).

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Martin Truex Jr. roars to top spot

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Many people are climbing aboard the Martin Truex Jr. express and the NBC Sports NASCAR writers are no exception, unanimously choosing the Mayetta, New Jersey native for the top spot in this week’s Power Rankings.

Truex, who tied for second in last week’s rankings, earned all 40 points this week to knock Kevin Harvick off the top of the hill after a two-week reign. Harvick drops to a tie for fourth this week.

Making the biggest jumps in the rankings were Denny Hamlin (from eighth to tied for second) and Kyle Busch (10th to tied for fourth).

Suffering the biggest drop was Chase Elliott, who went from fifth last week to out of the rankings this week.

Here is how this week’s rankings look:

1. Martin Truex Jr. (40 points): The idea that he could win the first four playoff races doesn’t seem outlandish. Last week: Second (tied).

(tie) 2. Denny Hamlin (29 points): Had his usual strong run (finished third) at his home track, but a win would have been better. Now has eight top 10s in the last 10 races. Last week: Eighth.

(tie) 2. Brad Keselowski (29 points): Led 89 laps but just didn’t have as strong a car to challenge for the win as Truex or Kyle Busch had. Last week: Second (tied).

(tie) 4. Kyle Busch (26 points): Bounced back from incident-filled playoff opener in Las Vegas to lead race-high 202 laps at Richmond – but still had to settle for second place. Last week: 10th.

(tie) 4. Kevin Harvick (26 points): Consistency has become his middle name. Seventh-place finish marked his eighth top 10 in the last nine races. Last week: First.

6. Kyle Larson (23 points): The good news is his sixth-place finish at Richmond was his seventh top 10 in the last eight races. But the bad news is he still keeps coming up short for a win (hasn’t won in last 74 starts). Last week: Fourth.

7. Ryan Newman (18 points): Keep an eye on this team, it could be a big surprise. As he noted in a tweet after his fifth-place finish at Richmond: “They knew we were there and hungry.” Last week: Unranked.

8. Christopher Bell (10 points): With a Cup deal now firmly in his back pocket, Bell has nothing else to think or worry about other than winning the Xfinity championship. Last week. Unranked.

9. Clint Bowyer (7 points): Has become one of the better road racers on the circuit. Needs another strong run on the Roval (finished third last year) if he hopes to advance to the second round of the playoffs. He head to Charlotte four points below the cut line. Last week: Unranked.

10. Joey Logano (4 points): That he managed an 11th stands out after his struggles at Richmond. Last week: Sixth.

Others receiving votes: Erik Jones (3 points), Jimmie Johnson (2 points), Bubba Wallace (1 point), Chase Elliott (1 point), Cole Custer (1 point).

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick still No. 1, Kyle Busch drops to 10th

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Even though Martin Truex Jr. passed Kevin Harvick to win the NASCAR Cup playoff opener at Las Vegas, Harvick remains No. 1 in this week’s NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Harvick was the top pick of NBC Sports’ NASCAR writers for the second straight week. Meanwhile, Truex and Brad Keselowski made the biggest jumps in this week’s rankings, both going from unranked last week to tied for No. 2 this week.

The biggest drop in the rankings came from Kyle Busch, who fell from third to 10th this week and Clint Bowyer, who dropped out after being fourth last week. Busch has fallen from first to 10th in the last three polls.

Here is how this week’s rankings look:

1. Kevin Harvick (39 points): Although he fell one point short of unanimous selection, “Happy” is certainly in a very happy place heading to Richmond. Last week: First.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (33 points): Never question this team’s playoff readiness. The way he won at Las Vegas could be an indicator of even greater success in the remaining nine playoff races, potentially culminating with a second Cup championship in three years. Last week: Unranked.

2. Brad Keselowski (33 points): Rebounded from poor start to, in his words, nearly “steal” a win. Third-place finish is his fourth top five in the last five races. Last week: Unranked.

4. Kyle Larson (28 points): Overlooked rebound for eighth-place finish with a top-three car after pit penalty. Is peaking at the right time: Vegas marked his sixth top 10 in the last seven races. Last week: Seventh.

5. Chase Elliott (26 points): Scores back-to-back fourth-place finishes. Since his Watkins Glen win, he has only one finish outside the top 10. Last week: Eighth.

6. Joey Logano (13 points): Decent top 10 but made some moves he probably wants back. Still, ninth-place finish marks back-to-back top 10s for the first time since July. Last week: Fifth.

7. Ryan Blaney (12 points): Earned his first top five in five races, but his sixth top 10 in last eight races. Last week: Sixth.

8. Denny Hamlin (11 points): Car woes late at Las Vegas left him wondering what went wrong after 15th-place finish. No panic yet but a strong hometown Richmond run would help. Last week: Second.

9. William Byron (8 points): The playoff rookie was cool under fire at Las Vegas. Nice recovery from spin to finish seventh in first Cup playoff race. Last week: Unranked.

10. Kyle Busch (7 points): Hit wall, lost two laps, got back on the lead lap, ran into the back of a slower car, complained about drivers not on the lead lap. Yes, think that’s about how his playoff opener went. Oh well, he does have all those playoff points as the regular-season champ to fall back on. Last week: Third.

Others receiving votes: Ryan Newman (5 points), Chris Buescher (3 points), Alex Bowman (2 points).

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick soars to No. 1 entering playoffs

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Kevin Harvick’s win in the Brickyard 400 didn’t just give him momentum going into the Cup playoffs, it also rocketed him to the top of this week’s Power Rankings with his unanimous selection by the NBC Sports’ NASCAR writers.

Harvick, who was tied for fourth last week, vaults over Kyle Busch (drops to third this week) and Kyle Larson (plummets to seventh), who were tied for No. 1 last week.

Also of note, Joey Logano finds himself back in the top 10 after falling out last week. Also a surprise entry in this week’s top 10 is Bubba Wallace (ninth). But of course, finishing third at Indianapolis will do that for a guy like Bubba.

Here is how this week’s rankings look:

1. Kevin Harvick (40 points): Starts the year winless in 19 races and now has won three of the last seven races. Nice way to head into the playoffs. He is now a threat to win at every speedway in playoffs. Last week: tied for fourth.

2. Denny Hamlin (34 points): Finished sixth in a backup car at Indy; has just one finish worse than sixth in the last eight races (29th at Darlington), plus two wins in that stretch. He’s still red-hot. Last week: tied for fourth.

3. Kyle Busch (26 points): Don’t be bothered that he is on a 12-race winless streak. He has five top-five finishes and eight top-10 results during his drought. Last week: tied for first.

4. Clint Bowyer (20 points): Starting to put together more solid races. His fifth-place finish at Indy gave him three consecutive top 10s entering the playoffs. If he can get past the first round, could become a real dark horse. Last week: tied for eighth.

5. Joey Logano (19 points): Runner-up finish broke a string of five finishes outside the top 10 for the reigning series champion. Was Indy a sign of things to come? Last week: Unranked.

6. Ryan Blaney (17 points): Five top-10 finishes in the last seven races . Needs to fix execution problems but still strong. Last week: Unranked.

7. Kyle Larson (14 points): Yes, he finished 33rd at Indy but again showed speed and was on pace to score his sixth consecutive top-10 finish. This could be a team to watch in the playoffs. Last week: tied for first.

8. Chase Elliott (13 points): With Jimmie Johnson not in the playoffs, Elliott becomes the torch bearer for Hendrick Motorsports. Is he up to the task? Also, ninth-place finish at Indy gives him four top fives in the last five races. Last week: Unranked.

9. Bubba Wallace (9 points): Earned second career top five and delivered Richard Petty his first Brickyard 400 top five as an owner. Last week: Unranked.

10. Ryan Newman (8 points): He has had to grind things out all season so it only made sense he would have to do the same thing Sunday at Indy to secure the final playoff spot. If he keeps that kind of thing up, has a good chance to reach second round. Last week: Unranked.

Others receiving votes: William Byron (7 points), Brad Keselowski (6 points), Chris Buescher (4 points), Martin Truex Jr. (2 points), Paul Menard (1 point).

NBC Sports Power Rankings: It’s now the Kyle and Kyle Show

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Denny Hamlin had been ranked No. 1 in the last five NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings – but no more.

After Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, there’s a new No. 1 in this week’s Power Rankings. In fact, there are two new No. 1s – and they’re both named Kyle.

Former No. 1 Kyle Busch is back on top, tied for the lead spot with the other Kyle in Cup, Kyle Larson. In the last Power Rankings, two weeks ago after the race at Bristol, the younger Busch brother was ranked No. 4, while Larson was No. 5.

There are three ties among six drivers in the overall 10 drivers in this week’s rankings.

Suffering the biggest drop is Chase Elliott, who went from No. 3 (tied) to unranked this week. And in a surprising twist, even though he did well at Darlington, Matt DiBenedetto still plunged from No. 2 after Bristol to No. 7 this week.

Here’s how this week’s power rankings look:

1. Kyle Busch (36 points): Clinching regular season title and third at Darlington puts him back on top. Last week: third (tied).

1. Kyle Larson (36 points): Just needs a victory to validate his team’s playoff surge. Last week: fifth.

3. Erik Jones (31 points): Southern 500 win and clinched playoff spot caps off strong second half. Has five top fives in last seven races. Not bad when you can say your first two Cup wins came at Daytona and Darlington. Last week: Unranked.

4. Denny Hamlin (23 points): Was collected in crash at Darlington and finished 29th. Still, six top-five finishes in the last seven races, including two wins, isn’t too shabby. Last week: First.

4. Kevin Harvick (23 points): Fourth-place Darlington run was his sixth top 10 in the last seven races, including two wins. Last week: Seventh.

6. Brad Keselowski (20 points): Continues with workmanlike performances. It almost seems like he’s simply biding his time until the playoffs – and then watch out. Last week: Sixth.

7. Matt DiBenedetto (18 points): Man, will someone please hire the guy for next season? Last week: Second.

8. Kurt Busch (13 points): While he could be a major player in the playoffs, there’s still no official word on Busch’s status for next year. Last week: Unranked.

8. Clint Bowyer (13 points): Swung back to the positive side of the cutoff line with a hard-fought sixth-place finish. Has to stay out of trouble in Indy, lest he come up short and miss the playoffs. Last week: 10th.

10. Chris Buescher (3 points): 12th-place finish at Darlington gives him 14 straight finishes of 18th or better as JTG Daugherty shows steady improvement. Last week: Unranked.

Others receiving votes: Daniel Suarez (2 points).