NBC Sports Power Rankings

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin No. 1 for fifth straight week

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By winning Saturday night at Bristol, Denny Hamlin maintained his stranglehold on the NBC NASCAR Power Rankings.

For the fifth consecutive week, Hamlin is No. 1 in the rankings – and by unanimous selection. But he’s not the only big story: Matt DiBenedetto, who finished second in Saturday’s race, made the biggest jump in this week’s rankings, going from unranked to No. 2.

Conversely, taking the biggest falls are Kevin Harvick (second last week to seventh) and Martin Truex Jr. (third to eighth).

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

1. Denny Hamlin (40 points): Doing everything right. Could this finally be the year he earns that elusive first Cup championship? Last week: 1st.

2. Matt DiBenedetto (29 points): Starting to come on at the right time. Runner-up run at Bristol gives him four top 10s in the last five races. Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 3. Chase Elliott (27 points): After struggling to find consistency at times, he has three consecutive top-10 finishes heading into the off-weekend. Last week: 6th.

(tie) 3. Kyle Busch (27 points): Finished fourth for his fifth top 10 in the last six races but lamented after the race to NBCSN that “we’re flat out getting our ass kicked by our teammates so we’ve got to get better.” Last week: 5th.

5. Kyle Larson (26 points): Sixth-place finish marked his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. This team is cutting down on the mistakes that plagued it earlier in the year. Last week: 4th.

6. Brad Keselowski (23 points): As well as he’s run in Bristol over a long while. Earned first top five in 10 starts on the track. Last week: 9th.

7. Kevin Harvick (16 points): Freak mechanical failure ruins a very good weekend but look for him to bounce back big-time at Darlington in two weeks. Last week: 2nd.

8. Martin Truex Jr. (11 points): Flat tire caused his streak of four consecutive top 10s to come to an end with a 13th-place performance at Bristol. Last week: 3rd.

9. Daniel Suarez (9 points): Team and driver are showing a lot of fight. Don’t be surprised if Suarez is the next first-time Cup winner. Last week: 7th.

10. Clint Bowyer (4 points): He may have fallen below the playoff cutline, but you have to admire the way he bounced back from adversity to finish seventh at Bristol. With the pressure on him in the last two races to make the playoffs, Bowyer will have to have two of his best efforts of the year at Darlington and Indianapolis. Last week: Unranked.

Others receiving votes: Ryan Blaney (3 points), Ryan Newman (2 points), Kurt Busch (2 points), Tyler Reddick (1 point).

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin still No. 1

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It appears Denny Hamlin isn’t going anywhere any time soon. That’s the case as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver remains No. 1 in the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings for the fourth consecutive week.

Hamlin’s reign at the top isn’t surprising. He has a win and four top-five finishes in his last five starts.

The biggest gainer in this week’s rankings is Michigan winner Kevin Harvick, who moved from sixth last week to second this week.

Meanwhile, Erik Jones fell from second to eighth this week.

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

1. Denny Hamlin (39 points): Just like his sponsor, he delivers. Certainly seems like the preemptive championship favorite. Last week: 1st.

2. Kevin Harvick (37 points): Two wins in the last four races. Shades of his 2018 dominance returning? Competitors better be worried. Last week: 6th.

3. Martin Truex Jr. (31 points): Had best car at Michigan but sometimes the best car doesn’t win. Mistakes by team (strategy) and driver (restarts) hurt No. 19. Last week: 3rd.

4. Kyle Larson (27 points): Has quietly but effectively become more of a factor of late. The Knoxville Nationals proved to be a bust for him but a third-place finish at Michigan is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. Last week: 8th.

5. Kyle Busch (17 points): Didn’t have the best car but still won a stage at Michigan and stretched his lead on Joey Logano for the regular-season title. Last week: 9th.

6. Chase Elliott (12 points): Followed Watkins Glen win with top 10 at Michigan. First time he’s had back-to-back top 10s since late May/early June. Last week: 4th.

7. Daniel Suarez (10 points): A playoffs-saving salvage job after a disastrous Stage 2. Last week: Unranked.

8. Erik Jones (9 points): His streak of four consecutive top-five finishes came to an end at Michigan. Still, he’s on track to make the playoffs if he keeps having consistent top-10 finishes. Last week: 2nd.

9. Brad Keselowski (8 points): Can’t argue with Team Penske’s speed, but execution needs work. Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 10. Joey Logano (6 points): If the cautions fall differently, he might have swept both Michigan Cup races this year. Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 10. Austin Cindric (6 points): After failing to win in his first 53 career Xfinity starts, has now earned back-to-back wins in last two starts (Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio). We’re starting to see Cindric coming into his own, for sure. Last week: Unranked.

Others receiving votes: Ryan Preece (5 points), Ryan Newman (4 points), Ryan Blaney (3 points), Christopher Bell (2 points), Matt DiBenedetto (2 points), William Byron (1 point), Chris Buescher (1 point).

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Hamlin still No. 1, Kyle Busch plummets

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Even though Kyle Busch is back to No. 1 in the Cup point standings, that hasn’t stopped NBC’s writers from keeping Denny Hamlin No. 1 for a third consecutive week in the NASCAR Power Rankings.

There are three major moves in this week’s rankings: Watkins Glen winner Chase Elliott climbs to No. 4 after being unranked last week, Matt DiBenedetto jumps to No. 7 after being unranked and Kyle Busch drops four spots to ninth.

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

1. Denny Hamlin (40 points): Streaking with four consecutive top-five finishes. Building momentum for the playoffs. Off the speed of the top two finishers at The Glen but still noticeably strong. Last week: 1st.

2. Erik Jones (34 points): Has finished fourth or better in more than a third of the races this season, including the last four. just needs that win now. Last week: 2nd.

3. Martin Truex Jr. (32 points): Probably had the fastest car Sunday, maintaining road-course dominance. Overall, runner-up finish marked his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. Last week: 3rd.

4. Chase Elliott (28 points): Mistake-free command performance re-established him as title contender. Ends bad stretch with dominant win. Now let’s see him put together back-to-back strong weekends. Last week: Unranked.

5. Ryan Blaney (21 points): Said he didn’t mean to wreck Jimmie Johnson but that didn’t matter to Johnson. What matters to Blaney is his fifth-place finish was his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. Last week: 8th.

6. Kevin Harvick (18 points): “The Closer” hasn’t done much closing this year. He has all the tools and personnel to do better than he has. Has to pick up his game if he hopes to go far in the playoffs. Last week: 4th.

7. Matt DiBenedetto (15 points): Finished sixth at Watkins Glen, earning his fourth top 10 in the last seven races. Has shown enough to earn another season in the No. 95. Last week: Unranked.

8. Kyle Larson (10 points): Eighth-place finish is fifth top 10 in the last seven races. While that’s all well and good, if he doesn’t significantly pick up his game, he could be one of the four drivers to exit the playoffs after the first round. Maybe he should put sprint car racing on hold to focus on his regular job. Last week: 6th.

9. Kyle Busch (9 points): Got to learn who to pick fights with. You think he’s going to be racing around Bubba Wallace a lot this year? That wasn’t a smart move roughing up Wallace. Last week: 5th.

10. Austin Cindric (6 points): Earned his first career Xfinity win. Has been slowly and methodically improving and finally cashed in with the right opportunity at Watkins Glen. Last week: Unranked.

Others Receiving Votes: Stewart Friesen (4 points), Brad Keselowski (2 points), Christopher Bell (1 point).

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin new No. 1

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For the second consecutive week, there was extensive upheaval in the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Last week saw Kyle Busch regain the top spot, while six drivers entered the top 10 after not being ranked the week before.

This week, there is a new No. 1 in the rankings with New Hampshire runner-up Denny Hamlin. Loudon winner Kevin Harvick, ranked No. 2, leads five drivers who make this week’s poll after being unranked last week. And Kyle Busch falls to No. 4 this week.

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

1. Denny Hamlin (35 points): He’ll be kicking himself for months about the win getting away, but his team showed major mettle. Last week: 5th.

2. Kevin Harvick (33 points): No longer has to worry about when win No. 1 will come. The 2019 season is feeling like a repeat of ’17 when Harvick made the championship round. Last week: Unranked.

3. Erik Jones (31 points): Scores back-to-back third-place finishes and then says of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s threat to get him back: “I guess go ahead.” Becoming a sure bet for the playoffs as long as he avoids Ricky’s revenge. Last week: 4th.

4. Kyle Busch (30 points): Best car didn’t win New Hampshire but heads back to Pocono and site of his win there in June. Last week: 1st.

5. Joey Logano (24 points): Not the result the reigning champ was looking for in his return to New Hampshire but still eked out a solid top 10 finish to keep the points lead. Last week: 2nd.

6. Ryan Newman (21 points): Ability to grind out top 10s has been impressive in recent weeks. Has five top 10s in the last six races. Last week: 7th.

(tie) 7. Matt DiBenedetto (13 points): Three top 10s in the last five races is a big step forward for this team. Making a surge after a miserable start; is it enough to keep his ride? Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 7. Ryan Blaney (13 points): Scored fourth top 10 in the last six races with his fourth-place finish at New Hampshire. Shaping up as a solid darkhorse for the final 10 races. Last week: Unranked.

9. Martin Truex Jr. (8 points): A good rebound from his midrace incident with Clint Bowyer. Has four top 10s in the last six races, but only one finish better than fifth (his win at Sonoma). Last week: Unranked.

10. Christopher Bell (7 points): By earning his fifth win in the first 18 races, is making it harder for Joe Gibbs Racing to not have Bell in its Cup lineup in 2020. Last week: Unranked.

Others Receiving Votes: Kurt Busch (2 points), Brad Keselowski (2 points), Chris Buescher (1 point).

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kyle Busch back to No. 1; Kurt Busch to No. 3

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When it comes to this week’s NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings, all we can say is, “Oh brother” … as in siblings Kyle and Kurt Busch.

Younger brother Kyle once again regained the top spot in this week’s rankings, knocking Joey Logano from the No. 1 perch after Logano held it the last two weeks.

And after not being ranked in the top 10 last week, older bro Kurt rockets up the rankings to No. 3 by virtue of his come-from-behind win last Saturday at Kentucky Speedway.

Also making a big move is Erik Jones, who goes from unranked last week to No. 4 this week. By contrast, six drivers from last week’s rankings dropped out of this week’s tabulations.

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

1. Kyle Busch (39 points): Tenacious performance at Kentucky puts him back atop the rankings. Last week: 2nd.

2. Joey Logano (36 points): Car wasn’t wide enough to block all those behind him on the final restart. In his last three races on a 1.5-mile speedway, he’s finished seventh (Kentucky), third (Chicagoland) and second (Charlotte). Last week: 1st.

3. Kurt Busch (32 points): What a difference a win makes. But Busch’s ranking isn’t a total surprise. He’s been knocking at the door all season. Had he not pitted at Daytona two weeks ago, he may be riding a two-race win streak now. Last week: Unranked.

4. Erik Jones (23 points): Returns to playoff territory and seems to have momentum for a finishing kick. Third-place finish was his fourth top 10 in the last five races on a 1.5-mile speedway. That includes a third at Kansas and Kentucky and a fourth at Texas. Last week: Unranked.

5. Denny Hamlin (22 points): His pit crew has been called for an uncontrolled tire violation five times this year, tying the series high. That’s unacceptable. Despite the penalty at Kentucky, Hamlin finished fifth. Last week: 7th.

6. Kyle Larson (20 points): Top 10s in three of last four races – including a second (Chicagoland) and fourth (Kentucky) – have solidified his standing for the playoffs. Last week: Unranked.

7. Ryan Newman (16 points): Is in full grind-it-out mode for solid finishes exactly when he needs them. Finished ninth at Kentucky after starting at the rear because his car failed inspection. While he fell out of a playoff spot, he’s only two points away after scoring his fourth top-10 finish in the last five races. Last week: 8th.

8. Cole Custer (9 points): Kentucky victory in the Xfinity Series was his series-high fifth win of the year. Last week: Unranked.

9. Clint Bowyer (7 points): Ends four-race tailspin but still needs to work on amassing stage points. Last week: Unranked.

10. Chris Buescher (5 points): If all the tracks on the circuit were 1.5-milers, he’d likely be ranked higher. All four of his top 10s this year have come at 1.5-mile tracks. He’s been sixth at Charlotte, ninth  at Atlanta and 10th at Kansas and Kentucky. Last week: Unranked.

Others receiving votes: Christopher Bell (4 points), Martin Truex Jr. (4 points), Tyler Ankrum (3 points).