NBC Sports Power Rankings

Power Rankings after Pocono: Denny Hamlin a unanimous No. 1

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Denny Hamlin not only won Sunday’s Cup race at Pocono, he also knocked Ryan Blaney off the top spot for this week’s NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Hamlin was a unanimous selection of NBC Sports’ NASCAR writers for No. 1 in this week’s rankings.

Kevin Harvick, who finished 1st-2nd in the two Pocono races (while Hamlin finished 2nd-1ast), was the biggest gainer, going from unranked last week to a unanimous pick for No. 2 this week. The biggest drop was Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who went from third last week to unranked this week.

Here’s how this week’s rankings look:

1. Denny Hamlin (30 points): Keeps getting stronger. First four-time winner of the season. Could this be the year he finally wins his first Cup championship? Last week: second.

2. Kevin Harvick (27 points): Came so close to making it a weekend sweep. Has 3 wins, eight top five and 12 top-10 finishes in first 15 races. Has finished outside the top 15 only once this season. Last week: unranked.

3. Aric Almirola (23 points): Four consecutive top fives – his only top fives this season and the best streak of his career – has Almirola back on track after earlier struggles. Last week: fourth (tied).

4. Chase Elliott (15 points): Has four top 10s in the last six races. Last week: seventh.

5. Brad Keselowski (14 points): Since NASCAR returned from the COVID-19 hiatus, Keselowski has two wins and just three finishes outside the top 10 in 11 races. Last week: eighth (tied).

6. Ryan Blaney (13 points): Had an off weekend (best finish was 12th on Saturday) after his win at Talladega. His Pocono finishes snapped a streak of six top-five finishes in his previous seven starts. Last week: first.

7. Martin Truex Jr. (12 points): Has four top 10s, including a win, in the last six races. Last week: unranked.

8. Chase Briscoe (9 points): Has been strong in the Xfinity Series this season, leading the way with four wins – including Sunday at Pocono. Last week: unranked.

9. Erik Jones (8 points): Sunday’s season-best third-place finish – his second top five in the last three races – was a big turnaround from wrecking out Saturday. Last week: 10th (tied).

(tie) 10. Clint Bowyer (6 points): Earned pair of top-10 finishes at Pocono, first back-to-back top 10s this season. Can he keep the momentum going at Indianapolis, where he’s had back-to-back fifth-place finishes the last two years? Last week: unranked.

(tie) 10. Alex Bowman (6 points): Earned third top 10 in last five races. Last week: 4th (tied).

Others receiving votes: Matt DiBenedetto (1 point), Brandon Jones (1 point).

Power Rankings after Miami: Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney tied at No. 1

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Ties in NBC Sports’ NASCAR Power Rankings are not unusual. But a tie at the top of the heap is rare.

Yet that’s the case this week after the NASCAR weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as close friends Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney are tied for No. 1, as voted upon by NBC Sports’ NASCAR writers.

Elliott made the biggest climb, improving from seventh last week, while Blaney was third last week. Also of note, Dale Earnhardt Jr., making his first race start in nearly 10 months, scored eighth in this week’s rankings after finishing fifth in Saturday’s Xfinity race.

Kevin Harvick suffered the biggest drop, falling from No. 1 to tied for ninth this week.

Here’s how this week’s rankings look:

(tie) 1. Chase Elliott (27 points): Scored top-five finishes at Martinsville and Miami, giving him four top-five results, including a win, in the last six races. It could have been more if not for the crash with Joey Logano while racing for the lead late at Bristol. Last week: seventh.

(tie) 1. Ryan Blaney (27 points): With five top-five finishes in his last six starts, Blaney is knocking on victory’s door. He won the last Cup race at Talladega last fall. Can history repeat Sunday? Last week: third.

3. Brad Keselowski (24 points): Leads the Cup Series with seven top-10 finishes (all consecutive), including wins in Coca-Cola 600 and at Bristol. Last week: fourth.

4. Denny Hamlin (22 points): Ran poorly at Martinsville and then came back to win Miami. Three times he’s finished 20th or worse this season. In each of the races that followed those poor results, he has a win, a runner-up and a fifth-place finish. Last week: ninth.

5. Martin Truex Jr. (17 points): Finished 12th at Miami but probably could have wound up with a top 10 if he would have a break or two more. Last week: sixth.

6. Chase Briscoe (13 points): Started Saturday’s Xfinity race six laps down after ballast fell out of his car on the pace laps. He recovered to finish on the lead lap in seventh. The next day, without his suspended crew chief, Briscoe won the Xfinity race. Quite a weekend. Last week: unranked.

7. Kyle Busch (12 points): Had an up-and-down weekend. Won Truck race easily but continues to struggle in pursuit of first Cup win of season. Last week: second.

8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (6 points): Hadn’t raced since last August at Darlington but made it look easy at Miami. A few twists of fate and he might have pulled off the win. Instead, he finished fifth. Hinted that this could be his last NASCAR race. Last week: unranked.

(tie) 9. Kevin Harvick (5 points): Martinsville and Miami were forgettable. It’s on to Talladega. Last week: first.

(tie) 9. Harrison Burton (5 points): Continues to have tremendous rookie season in the Xfinity Series, including win and eighth-place finish at Homestead. Has not finished lower than ninth in any race this season. Last week: unranked.

Others receiving votes: Kurt Busch (4 points), Austin Dillon (3 points), William Byron (2 points)

Power rankings after Bristol: Brad Keselowski is new No. 1

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Kevin Harvick is out and Bristol winner Brad Keselowski is the new No. 1 in this week’s NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Keselowski was the unanimous pick of NBC Sports’ NASCAR writers. Harvick had been the unanimous No. 1 the last two weeks. He falls to second in this week’s rankings.

Kurt Busch made the biggest climb, going from 10th last week to No. 4 in this week’s rankings. Three drivers dropped out of the top 10 from last week: Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr. and Tyler Reddick.

Here’s how this week’s rankings look:

1. Brad Keselowski (30 points): Right place, right time at Bristol, taking advantage of contact between Chase Elliott and Joey Logano to sail on to victory lane for second time in last three races. Last week: second.

2. Kevin Harvick (26 points): Saw his streak of 13 consecutive top 10s end at Bristol with an 11th-place finish. Last week: first.

3. Chase Elliott (25 points): Won once in the past week and was in contention for a second win until he hit Joey Logano late at Bristol. Last week: tied for third.

4. Kurt Busch (20 points): The elder Busch brother has gone from third to 10th and back up to fourth in the last three power rankings. Last week: 10th.

5. Jimmie Johnson (14 points): The seven-time champ has been knocking on victory’s door for each of the last four weeks, including finishing a season-best third at Bristol. Is that 104-race winless streak ready to end? Last week: unranked.

(tie) 6. Kyle Busch (13 points): Rebounded from a cut tire and 29th-place finish at the second Charlotte race to take fourth at Bristol. Last week: tied for third.

(tie) 6. Austin Dillon (13 points): Eighth at second Charlotte race and followed up with a strong sixth at Bristol. Last week: unranked.

8. Denny Hamlin (11 points): Much like the rest of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, his streak of up-and-down results continues. Runner-up at second Charlotte race and 17th at Bristol after a late incident. Last week: seventh.

9. Ryan Blaney (4 points): Continues his search for consistency. Finished third at second Charlotte and was strong at Bristol until spinning while running second and then was hit, ending his race. Last week: unranked.

10. Christopher Bell (3 points): After rough first five races of rookie season, has bounced back with three finishes of 11th or better in his last four races. Last week: ninth.

Others receiving votes: Austin Cindric (2 points), William Byron (1 point).

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick remains unanimous No. 1

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Kevin Harvick remains the unanimous No. 1 for a second consecutive week in the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings – and for good reason.

Harvick is riding a significant streak of consistency, with 12 straight top-10 finishes dating back to last season.

There’s more: In his last 24 starts dating back to Loudon last summer, Harvick has 22 top-10 finishes, including five wins. His most recent victory was NASCAR’s return from the COVID-19 hiatus at Darlington on May 17.

As for the rest of the rankings, Brad Keselowski makes the biggest jump (from unranked last week to No. 2 this week), while Kurt Busch has the biggest drop (third last week to 10th this week).

Here’s how this week’s rankings shape up:

1. Kevin Harvick (30 points): He keeps rolling along. No other driver has a top-10 streak longer than three races currently. Last week: first.

2. Brad Keselowski (26 points): Doesn’t have the fastest car but pulled out the victory in the Coca-Cola 600 and finished fourth in most recent Darlington race. Last week: unranked.

(tie) 3. Kyle Busch (20 points): Back-to-back top-five finishes for the defending series champ, as well as a runner-up and win in the last two Xfinity races. He’s definitely on a roll. Last week: tied for 10th

(tie) 3. Chase Elliott (20 points): Nice rebound in the Coca-Cola 600 after the disappointing incident with Kyle Busch at Darlington four days earlier. Last week: fifth.

5. Alex Bowman (19 points): Has performed better than his last two finishes (18th at Darlington, 19th at Charlotte) have indicated. Has plenty of speed. Last week: second.

6. Martin Truex Jr. (17 points): With finishes of sixth, 10th and sixth in the first three races back after the hiatus, is his first win of the season right around the corner? Last week: ninth.

7. Denny Hamlin (11 points): Won most recent Darlington race and, well, his team would like to forget the Coke 600 and the matter of the wayward ballast. Last week: sixth.

8. Tyler Reddick (10 points): Making an early bid for Rookie of the Year, with finishes of seventh, 13th and eighth in the first post-hiatus races. Last week: seventh.

9. Christopher Bell (5 points): With finishes of 11th and ninth in the last two races, he’s starting to get the otherwise dismal start to the season turned around. Last week: unranked.

10. Kurt Busch (4 points): Has looked very strong in first three races back: third, 15th and seventh. He also earned the pole for the Coke 600. Last week: third.

Others receiving votes: Erik Jones (3 points).

NBC Sports Power Rankings: William Byron continues his domination

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William Byron remains the unanimous No. 1 pick atop this week’s NBC Sports virtual NASCAR Power Rankings.

Byron received all 30 points in a vote by NBC’s NASCAR writers. Timmy Hill was second on each ballot.

Denny Hamlin made the largest climb, from ninth place last week to fourth this week. Dropping out of this week’s rankings were Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch.

Here’s this week’s virtual power rankings:

1. William Byron (30 points): Really, is anyone surprised that he’s dominated the Pro Invitational Series based on his background in iRacing? Didn’t think so. Last week: 1st.

2. Timmy Hill (27 points): Six Pro Invitational starts, five top-3 finishes.  Last week: 2nd.

3. Garrett Smithley (22 points): Has earned back-to-back top-10 finishes. All he needs is a bit more consistency. Last week: 6th.

4. Denny Hamlin (20 points): See what happens when you hide the remotes before the race so your daughter can’t accidentally shut off his screen (like the previous week)? End result was a top-10 finish. Last week: 9th.

5. Alex Bowman (17 points): With his sometimes distracting dogs off his rig and out of the picture, he does well. Last week: 3rd.

6. Ryan Preece (16 points): Admittedly, had a rough day at Dover, finishing 29th. But he remains one of the top sim racers, with four top-10 finishes in the first six events. Last week: 5th.

7. Landon Cassill (11 points): The records show a 21st-place finish, but the real story is he was strong for most of the race until misfortune struck. Last week: 4th.

8. Erik Jones (7 points): Keeps improving. Earned his first top-five with a fourth-place finish at Dover. Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 9. Michael McDowell (5 points): Recorded his first top-five finish in the Pro Invitational Series at Dover. Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 9. Brennan Poole (5 points): Just like in real-life racing, a bit more consistency in virtual racing would likely spell even stronger results. Last week: Unranked.

Others receiving votes: Christopher Bell (4 points), Ryan Blaney (1 point).