NASCAR power rankings: Post All-Star Race

Following each race, I will rank the top-20 drivers based off of their finish over the weekend, their previous ranking and the momentum they’re carrying into the next race. Below the driver’s name, you can see a  or  that indicates whether they’ve climbed the rankings, fallen down the rankings, or  indicating their ranking did not change. If a driver is new to the top-20 ranking, a “↑NPR” (not previously ranked) will be shown next to the “Change:” indicator.

1. Kevin Harvick


Change: ↔

Photo from Motorsport.com/LAT Images

Harvick did it yet again at Charlotte in the All-Star Race as he won his sixth event of the season and took him the million dollars. He took home three different checkered flags throughout the evening, the stage one and three green and white checkered flag and the race ending checkered flag. With five points-race victories and one All-Star Race win, he’s by far the hottest driver in the sport. He has a significant chance to win his third race in a row for the second time this season in the sport’s longest race on Sunday night.

2. Joey Logano



Change: ↔

Logano battled for a third-place finish in the All-Star Race. He started the race 10th and was arguably the reason that Harvick was able to grab the win. On the restart to begin the 10-lap final stage, he gave Harvick a HUGE push to get him clear of Daniel Suarez on his inside. Logano also intentionally spun Kyle Larson late in the race after Larson squeezed him into the wall just seconds before. Logano has one career victory at Charlotte that came back in 2015.

3. Kyle Busch


Change: ↔

Busch was the only other driver to grab a checkered flag of any sort outside of Harvick on Saturday night. He was able to lead the final 19 laps of stage two to win the stage. Rowdy managed to finish ninth despite being in the center of an eight-car pileup late in the race. Although he won last year’s All-Star Race at Charlotte, he’s never won a points-race at the track. Watch for Rowdy to fight for his first Charlotte win on Sunday night.

4. Martin Truex Jr.


Change: ↔

Photo from NASCAR.com

Truex Jr. looked to have a strong car throughout the night as he led 17 laps during the race. Unfortunately for him, he was a victim in the eight-car wreck that took him and several other contenders out of the race with few laps remaining. The defending series champ has two career wins at Charlotte and should battle for a third in the 600 this weekend.

5. Denny Hamlin


Change: ↑1

Hamlin had a quiet All-Star Race but came home with a solid fourth-place finish. He started the race back in the 14th position but was able to steadily make his way to the front. The driver of the No. 11 has no wins at the track but does have eight top-5s, including two second-place finishes.

6. Kyle Larson


Change: ↑1

Photo from Motorsport.com/LAT Images

Larson had an eventful night at the All-Star Race but came home with a seventh-place finish. Late in the race he edged Joey Logano into the wall and was promptly dumped right after and sent spinning through the infield grass. Miraculously, he escaped the long spin without a scratch and was able to recover for a top-10. He hasn’t finished better than fifth at Charlotte in his nine starts.

7. Clint Bowyer


Change: ↓2

Bowyer got caught up in the big wreck and was unable to continue on to finish the few laps remaining. He never really competed near the front and ended up finishing the race 19th out of the 21 drivers in the event. Over his 24 starts in points-races at Charlotte, Bowyer has one career win that came back in October of 2012. His best finish in the 600 was seventh back in 2010 while driving the 33 car for Richard Childress Racing (RCR).

8. Ryan Blaney


Change: ↑2

YBR had a relatively quiet All-Star Race and had a relatively unimpressive finish of 15th. Blaney didn’t lead any laps and never really even made his way towards the front throughout the evening. He finished behind cars such as Kyle Busch, AJ Allmendinger, and Kasey Kahne who all had a decent amount of damage to their rides. Across his six points-race starts at Charlotte, Blaney has only earned one top-10. The good news is that his only top-10 came the last time NASCAR raced their for points, so hopefully he’s found something heading into the weekend.

9. Kurt Busch


Change: ↓1

Photo from NASCAR.com

Kurt Busch’s All-Star weekend surely didn’t go as he wanted. On just the second lap of the race his car got loose and he spun into the outside wall. While he sustained damage to the rear end, he was able to continue the race and earn his way back onto the lead-lap. But he wasn’t able to keep the car clean for the rest of the night as he got caught up in the eight-car wreck and was done for the evening. Busch has one win at Charlotte that came back in 2010 when he drove the No. 2 car.

10. Brad Keselowski


Change: ↓1

Keselowski was another car caught up in the big wreck that collected several big names. His race ended there with  a 20th place finish, topping only Alex Bowman who had wrecked out just six laps before. Kes’ has three top-5s, including one win back in 2013, across his 17 starts at Charlotte. His best finish in the Coca-Cola 600 is fifth, which he’s done twice.

11. Chase Elliott


Change: ↑1

Chase Elliott came oh so close to winning an Open stage to get into the All-Star Race, but for the third consecutive year he won the fan vote to get into it. He finished third in the All-Star Open as he couldn’t figure a way around AJ Allmendinger or Erik Jones. In the All-Star Race he didn’t make much noise til the very end. He kept his head down for most of the race but was in the thick of it towards the end and earned a top-5 finish. In five career starts at the track, he has two top-10s, including a runner-up finish that came in the playoff race last fall.

12. Aric Almirola


Change: ↓1

Almirola started the All-Star Open race on pole but wasn’t able to finish P1 in any of the four stages of the race. At the end of the Open he finish in the sixth position, not qualifying for the All-Star Race that followed it later that night. Over his 11 starts at the mile and a half track, he has just one top-10, a 10th place finish back in October 2015.

13. Jimmie Johnson


Change: ↔

Johnson, although a four-time All-Star Race winner, never held down the top spot at any point throughout the All-Star Race. He avoided the late wrecks and cautions and was nearly able to sneak his way to a top-5 finish, but had to settle for a sixth place. He didn’t look very fast throughout the night but showed life on a late restart that got him closer to the front. The good news for Johnson heading into the 600 is that he’s won at Charlotte eight times, best in the sport. Plus, he’s specifically won the 600 itself four times.

14. Daniel Suarez


Change: ↑2

Photo from Motorsport.com/LAT Images

Daniel Suarez was the biggest surprise of the All-Star weekend. He won the second stage of the All-Star Open to get into the big race later on. The real All-Star Race is where he shined. He started 19th but finished second only to Kevin Harvick. Although he didn’t lead any laps, he threatened to pass Harvick for the lead several times in the dying laps. For him, he’s hoping to carry this momentum into the 600 this weekend. He has an average finish of 8.50 at Charlotte over his two career starts.

15. Erik Jones


Change: ↓1

Jones gave it his best run on Saturday night in the Open to make the All-Star Race, but he fell just short. He finished second to Allmendinger in the final stage to end the race. He had great run on the outside with two laps to go but his run was halted as Allmendinger threw a hard block on him and the two made contact. Jones finished seventh in his first every Coca-Cola 600 one year ago.

16. Alex Bowman


Change: ↑1

Photo from Motorsport.com/LAT Images

Bowman was shot out of a cannon to start the All-Star Open race. He drove away from the pack and was able to hang for the opening stage win as the field tracked him down in the dying laps. In the All-Star Race he didn’t fare quite as well. After making hard contact with the wall he took his car to the garage on lap 68 of 93. In five career starts in points-races at Charlotte, Bowman has an average finish of 32.00. Look for him to improve on that number on Sunday night.

17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.


Change: ↓2

Stenhouse Jr. was unimpressive on Saturday night throughout the All-Star Race. He was able to navigate some wrecks and cautions to finish 11th, but he didn’t run much better than that all evening. He was also part of the cause of the big eight-car wreck as he slide up into Martin Truex Jr. and sent him spinning. Stenhouse Jr. has no top-10s over his 12 starts at Charlotte.

18. William Byron


Change: ↔

The rookie was unable to get past the All-Star Open and did not race in big event. He did finish seventh at the end of the Open, but Bowman and Suarez had also already won the first two stages and didn’t need to complete the race. In his two starts at Charlotte in the Xfinity Series last season he finished 14th and 16th.

19. Austin Dillon


Change: ↔

Austin Dillon didn’t make much noise during the All-Star Race. He just barely avoided getting caught up in the big wreck at the end of the third stage. At the end of the night he finished 12, behind other cars who had taken on damage throughout the race. Dillon earned his first career win at the Coca-Cola 600 in this race one year ago on fuel mileage. Don’t expect him to battle for a win this year unless he pulls off another risky fuel strategy.

20. AJ Allmendinger


Change: ↑NPR

Photo from Motorsport.com/LAT Images

The Dinger jumps back into the top-20 after being absent from it for a few weeks. He had a solid evening last Saturday as he won the final stage of the Open to get himself into the main event. He was able to race his way to an eighth place finish in the All-Star Race even with a bit of damage on the right side of his car from hitting the wall. Allmendinger will be hoping that his All-Star Race success will carry over to the 600 on Sunday night. He hasn’t finished in the top-10 since 2011 when he finished seventh. His best 600 finish was a fifth place that was also in 2011.

 

 

 

Falling out of the rankings: — Paul Menard (previously 20th)

 

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NASCAR power rankings: Post Kansas

Following each race, I will rank the top-20 drivers based off of their finish over the weekend, their previous ranking and the momentum they’re carrying into the next race. Below the driver’s name, you can see a  or  that indicates whether they’ve climbed the rankings, fallen down the rankings, or  indicating their ranking did not change. If a driver is new to the top-20 ranking, a “↑NPR” (not previously ranked) will be shown next to the “Change:” indicator.

1. Kevin Harvick


Change: ↔

Harvick made a hard charge late in the race to run down Truex Jr. and pass him coming to the white flag. Harvick held on for his fifth win of the season. He’s won nearly half, 41.67% (5/12 races), of the races run this season. This week NASCAR travels to Charlotte for the annual All-Star race. The race doesn’t award any points that go towards standings, just $1,000,000 to the winning driver. Harvick has won the All-Star race once, back in 2007, but he’s also won three points races at Charlotte in his career.

2. Joey Logano


Change: ↑1

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Logano had a solid day at Kansas and finished up the day third. He closed the gap to just 12 points between himself and Kyle Busch for the points lead. Logano has won the All-Star race once, two years ago in 2016. Outside of the All-Star race at Charlotte, he’s won one additional time at the track, a 2015 fall playoff race. He should be a contender for the $1,000,000 on Saturday night.

3. Kyle Busch


Change: ↓1

Busch slips another spot to third following his 10th place at Kansas. He finished eighth and fourth in the first two stages, but faded late on a restart for a 10th place finish. Busch won the All-Star race last season, taking home the cash. Busch has never won a points race at the track, but he’s finished second three times, and third four times. He’s cooled off slightly since his tear of seven straight top-3 finishes, including three consecutive victories. But, expect Rowdy to be a front-runner for the million dollars cash under the lights in Charlotte.

4. Martin Truex Jr.


Change: ↑1

Truex Jr. fell one spot short of defending his Kansas wins from last season. He was passed by Harvick coming to the white flag and finished second, his second top-5 in a row. Truex Jr. has no All-Star race wins, but he has won twice at the track itself in points races. He won in the spring of 2016, leading 392 of the 400 laps. Then won again in the fall of 2017, leading 91 laps. Truex is another driver with a great shot at the cash.

5. Clint Bowyer


Change: ↓1

Bowyer had a top-10 car all night but got caught up in the late fiery crash that collected seven cars. Miraculously, although sustaining heavy damage, Bowyer was able to go on and finish the race on the lead lap in the 15th position. He’s has never won an All-Star race, but does have one career victory coming back in 2012 fall race when he still drove the No. 15 car for Michael Waltrip Racing. Bowyer’s Martinsville victory from earlier this season is what has made him eligible to compete in the All-Star race this year.

6. Denny Hamlin


Change: ↑1

Denny Hamlin had a decent day at Kansas that concluded with a top-5 finish of fifth. He didn’t have a top-5 car all night, or even really a top-10 car. He ran just outside the top-10 for the majority of the night, but pit strategy and other drivers misfortunes played into his top-5 finish. Denny has won career win at Charlotte, and it was the All-Star race back in 2015. Outside of that, he’s never gone to victory lane at the track in a points-earning event. While he may not be a favorite for the cash on Saturday, don’t count him out.

7. Kyle Larson


Change: ↑3

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Kyle Larson had a rollercoaster night at Kansas. He started at the back but quickly made his way to front, eventually winning the second stage of the race. But, late in the final stage Ryan Blaney made hard contact with his right rear, giving him a tire rub. He would rebound and still finish fourth, but he was a favorite for the win until the incident with Blaney. Larson has never won an All-Star race or a points race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He has an average finish of 15.50 at the track during points-earning events, including three top-10s over his nine starts.

8. Kurt Busch



Change: ↔

Busch had a solid evening at Kansas. He finished both stages in the top-10 before finishing in the race in top-10 with an eighth place. He climbs to fifth in the season point standings heading into the All-Star race. Busch has one All-Star win under his belt, coming back in 2010 when he still drove the No. 2 car for Penske Racing. He also has one points-race win at Charlotte that also came in 2010 while driving the No. 2 car.

9. Brad Keselowski


Change: ↓3

Keselowski had a lousy day at Kansas, finishing the night up in the 14th spot. He finished the first stage in the third spot, but wasn’t found in the top-10 for the rest of the night. Kes’ has one career victory at Charlotte, a points-race back in 2013 where he only led 11 of the 334 laps but still snagged a win. He’s in a bit of a slump heading into the All-Star race, owning a 19.50 average finish over the last six races with just two top-10s.

10. Ryan Blaney


Change: ↓1

Photo from NASCAR.com

Blaney had a strong run going at Kansas, only to have it spoiled late in the final stage. He won stage one and finished third in stage two and was poised for a run at the win until he got too aggressive in the final stage. His overaggressive driving landed him a 37th place finish and a miserable ride home. Blaney’ never won an All-Star race or any cup race at Charlotte before. He finished 11th in the All-Star race last season and has a best finish of eighth in a points-race at Charlotte. He’ll look to remedy his 37th place at Kansas by taking home a million from the All-Star race.

11. Aric Almirola


Change: ↑1

Almirola had his best starting position of the season at Kansas, fourth, and he turned it into a ninth-place finish, his fifth top-10 of 2018. He sits 11th in the point standings, firmly within the playoff picture. Almirola is currently eligible to compete in the All-Star race. In order to become eligible, he will need to win one of the stages of the Monster Energy Open Event (Saturday prior to the All-Star race) or win the All-Star Fan vote. Should he find his way into the All-Star race, don’t expect a win from him as he only has one top-10 over 11 career starts at the track.

12. Chase Elliott


Change: ↑1

Chase Elliott started 17th at Kansas but improved on that with a 12th place finish. He had his bright spots here and there this season but just hasn’t found his stride yet like he did for most of last season. Elliott participated in the All-Star race last season after winning the Fan vote and finished seventh. Should he win an Open stage or win the Fan vote he could have a chance at a win. After all, he did finish second in the fall playoff race at the same track.

13. Jimmie Johnson


Change: ↓2

Johnson struggled all night long at Kansas, which was uncharacteristic of him considering he’s tied for the most career wins at the track. He finished the race in the 19th position, two laps down. The good news for him heading into the All-Star race is that he’s won it four times before, in 2003, 2006, 2012 and 2013. He’s still riding his career long winless streak, but winning the $1,000,000 might help him forget about that for bit.

14. Erik Jones


Change: ↑4

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Jones had the solid run that he needed at Kansas, finishing seventh. He ran in the top-10 for nearly the whole evening, earning stage points in second stage. He even contended to grab the lead on a late restart but couldn’t make the pass, eventually settling for his fifth top-10 of the season. Jones has never participated in the All-Star race before, but he does have a best finish of seventh at the track. He’s got a decent shot to win an Open Stage to get into the race for the first time.

15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.


Change: ↑1

Stenhouse Jr. had a decent evening at Kansas, leading 10 laps enroute to an 11th place finish. He may have been able to snag a top-10 had him and Chase Elliott got into each other late, allowing Kyle Busch to slip by the both of them. Stenhouse Jr. finished 14th in the All-Star race last year with a DNF. Outside of this one All-Star race, he has zero top-10s at Charlotte in points-earning races over his 12 starts.

16. Daniel Suarez


Change: ↓2

Suarez had his decent day at Kansas go down the drain after late contact with Alex Bowman put him several laps down. He finished the race in the 28th position, sliding to 21st in the point standings. Last season he competed in his first All-Star race after winning an Open Stage to get into the race. He finished the All-Star race in 14th with a DNF. In his two points-earning races at Charlotte in his career he has finishes of sixth and 11th.

17. Alex Bowman


Change: ↔

Bowman got involved in heavy contact with Daniel Suarez that mired him a lap down. His team was able to repair the damage to allow him to remain only a lap down and finish 18th. With 1/3 of the season in the books, he sits 14th in the standings, the second-best of the Hendrick stable behind Jimmie Johnson. Bowman has never participated in the All-Star race, but he’ll have a chance to race his way into it this season. Watch for Bowman to battle to win an Open Stage or win the Fan vote.

18. William Byron


Change: ↓3

Byron (24) crashing on top of Ryan Newman (31). Photo from NASCAR.com

The rookie had a tough finish at Kansas. He ran solidly inside the top-15 almost all evening. He took two tires late and that’s what cost him in the end. Byron got loose and collected six other cars as he spun hard into the outside wall and caught fire. The result for him was a fiery crash that surely left him sore, and a 33rd place finish. Byron will need to win a an Open stage or win the Fan vote in order to participate in his first All-Star race.

19. Austin Dillon


Change: ↔

Austin Dillon finished up Kansas with a 17th place finish, his seventh consecutive finish outside the top-10. He only has two top-10s this season, his win at Daytona and a 10th at Auto Club. He sits 17th in the standings heading into All-Star weekend. Dillon wasn’t eligible for the race last year, but he is this year. He won his first career race at Charlotte last season, so he could have a shot at winning the million.

20. Paul Menard


Change: ↑NPR

Photo from Motorsport.com/LAT Images

Menard rejoins the rankings for the first time in a few weeks. His solid sixth place run at Kansas should give him a little bit of confidence heading to Charlotte for the All-Star race. While is he isn’t eligible for the race, he’ll have a shot to race his way into it. He has two career top-10s at Charlotte, both eighth place finishes. He’ unlikely to win the Fan vote so he’ll need to win an Open Stage to get in.

 

 

 

Falling out of the rankings: — Ryan Newman (previously 20th)

 

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Kansas recap: The Harvick Saturday night show

This year’s Kansas spring race seemed to be wrapping up as one of the most uneventful races of the season. But, late in the race that all changed. The final 31 laps included three cautions that would reshape the layout of the field from top to bottom. But at the end of the race, victory lane was reunited with a common visitor.

Stage One


Several cars including Kyle Larson, Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth and a few others, were forced to start the rear for differing reasons. Larson for spinning in practice and needing to change tires, and Bowyer, Kenseth and others for failing pre-qualifying inspection.

The first stage kicked off with the sport’s hottest driver on the pole, Kevin Harvick. Ryan Blaney began the race in second next to Harvick.

Within the first 15 laps of the race, Larson and Bowyer drove their way inside the top-15. And by the time the competition caution came out on lap 31, Larson had cracked the top-10.

To restart the race after the competition caution, Blaney nabbed the first spot as he beat Harvick out of the pits.

Off the restart, Blaney was able to escape from Harvick to maintain his lead. He was able to lead the rest of the stage unbothered until Harvick tracked him down with less than 10 to go.

Photo from NASCAR.com

Jimmie Johnson found himself one lap down and right in front of Blaney with the threat of going to laps down. He battled hard to remain in front of him, allowing Harvick to close to Blaney’s bumper.

Johnson was able to elude the leaders for the few remaining laps and end the stage only one lap down.

Blaney managed to hold off the hard-charging Harvick for a third stage win of the season. The top-5 was rounded out by Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Kyle Larson.

 

Stage Two


Although Blaney won stage one, Harvick won the race off pit road to restart first with Blaney next to him in second.

Off the restart, Harvick easily pulled away from Blaney in second and Logano in third.

After a handful of laps, Larson closed in on Logano and took the position away, moving him into the top-3 for the first time all night.

Green flag pit stops began on lap 43 of the stage. Once they were completed, Kevin Harvick cycle back out to the race leader.

Larson had a faster stop than Blaney, allowing him to get back onto the race track ahead of Blaney for second.

Clearly the faster car, Larson was able to run down Harvick and take the lead away on lap 51.

Larson held onto the lead for the remainder of the stage and collected his first stage win of the 2018 season. Surprisingly, it took him 12 races to get his first stage win.

Larson passed Jimmie Johnson on the last corner of the final lap to put him two laps down, essentially ending his chances at a good finish.

Harvick, Blaney, Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano rounded out the top-5 for stage two.

 

Final Stage: Part One – Calm Before the Storm


Heading into the final stage the race had experienced only two cautions, both from the conclusions of stages. Plus, all 38 cars that started the race were all still running, an unusual thing to see heading into the final stage of the race.

To start the final stage, the top-6 remained the same as it did when the second stage ended. Larson restarted first with Harvick in second. On the restart, Larson pulled away with the lead and Harvick slide into second.

Final Stage: Part Two – Intensity Rising


Photo from NASCAR.com

The caution finally came out for something other than a stage ending with just 31 laps to go. Daniel Suarez got loose, bounced off the wall and made heavy contact with Alex Bowman to bring out the yellow.

Larson and William Byron did a great job of swerving through the cars and the smoke to avoid wrecking.

Larson came out first from pit road with Harvick in second. William Byron took only two tires and jumped up nine positions to the 5th spot.

With 24 laps to go, Harvick stole the lead from Larson and Joey Logano slipped by him as well for second.

The caution came out once again with 20 laps to go as Blaney made heavy contact with Larson while battling for third. Blaney made hard contact with the left rear of Larson car, in-turn cutting his own tire.

The result was a tire rub for Larson and a blown tire for Blaney. Blaney’s car headed straight into the outside wall, knocking him out of the race. Larson was able to repair the damage and continue on while only losing a handful of laps.

Photo from NASCAR.com

Under the yellow, several cars stayed out including Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin, and Ryan Newman. Once again Byron took two tires on pit road, getting him out first ahead of Harvick followed by Kyle Busch.

On the restart, Truex Jr. snagged the lead from Logano, but the field wouldn’t make it back around for one lap.

Final Stage: Part Three – Absolute Chaos


A huge wreck with 14 to go put the race under a red flag. The cause came from Byron getting loose and collected several other cars as his car pile-drived the outside wall. As his car caught flames spinning across the track, he collected Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Chris Buescher, and Ty Dillon.

Photo from NASCAR.com

The race restarted with just nine laps to go. Truex Jr. held the lead with Logano, Jones, Hamlin, and Chase Elliott rounding out the top-5. Harvick and Kyle Busch followed in sixth and seventh, the first two cars with four fresh tires.

Off the restart, Harvick sailed from sixth to second in just one lap but Truex Jr. opened up a small gap.

Over the final laps, Harvick slowly reeled Truex Jr. in until he was within striking distance with under two laps to go.

As the pair reached the white flag for one to go, Harvick made the pass on Truex on the outside for the lead.

Over the final lap, Truex Jr. gave it everything he had but could never get back to Harvick’s bumper.

Harvick grabbed his fifth win of the season, one short of half the races run this year. Truex Jr. came home second, followed by Logano, Larson, and Hamlin for the top-5.

 

Post Race


Harvick’s five wins this season, combined with Clint Bowyer’s one, bring’s Stewart Haas Racing (SHR) to six total wins already. With 12 races being completed so far this year, SHR has won an astounding half of them.

Harvick still sits third in the point standings, but after his win today he had opened up his playoff points lead to now seven. He has collected 24 already, trailed by Kyle Busch with 17 in second.

As the 2018 NASCAR season is now 1/3 complete, there’s been a clear dominating driver and team leading the way.

Next week NASCAR travels to Charlotte for the All-Star race. This season’s All-Star race is a four-stage battle with $1,000,000 on the line to the winning driver.

 

 

Featured image courtesy of motorsport.com/LAT Images

 

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NASCAR power rankings: Post Dover

Following each race, I will rank the top 20 drivers based off of their finish over the weekend, their previous ranking and the momentum they’re carrying into the next race. Below the driver’s name, you can see a  or  that indicates whether they’ve climbed the rankings, fallen down the rankings, or  indicating their ranking did not change. If a driver is new to the top 20 ranking, a “↑NPR” (not previously ranked) will be shown next to the “Change:” indicator.

1. Kevin Harvick


Change: ↑2

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Kevin Harvick returns to the top spot after his big win at Dover. He swept both stages and took home the checkered flag for the fourth time this season after leading 201 of the 400 laps. He’s still third in the point standings, but he sits first in playoff points 19. He’s got two career wins at Kansas, where NASCAR travels to for a Saturday night race. Harvick has finished in the top-8 in his last four straight trips there, and five of his last six.

2. Kyle Busch


Change: ↓1

Rowdy slips from the top spot for the first time in a long time after his 35th place finish. Busch had a strong car all afternoon at Dover, running third for most of the day, until his drive shaft snapped shortly after the end of stage two. He’s still atop the point standings, but he has lost his momentum from his three straight victories. Busch has one career win at Kansas and is riding a streak of six straight top-10s at the track.

3. Joey Logano


Change: ↓1

Logano’s streak of six straight top-10 finishes came to an end at Dover after finishing 13th. This was just his second finish this season outside of the top-10, the other being a 19th at Phoenix. Logano has two victories to his name at Kansas, but his results at the track have been scattered recently. His last five races at the track have resulted in finishes of 21st, 37th, third, 38th, and first dating back to 2015. He’ll be looking to start another streak of top-10s on Saturday night.

4. Clint Bowyer


Change: ↑1

Bowyer had a shot at his second win of the season, but was beat out by his teammate. The race was put under red flag due to rain with Bowyer leading. It was past the halfway point, so if the rain continued the race would be called, but unfortunately for him, the race was able to resume. Although he didn’t win, he finished with a solid second place. Bowyer has his work cut out for him at Kansas. He’s only finished in the top-10 once over his last nine starts at the track.

5. Martin Truex Jr.


Change: ↑4

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Truex Jr. got back on track at Dover, getting back into the top-10 for the first time since fourth-place finish at Martinsville, five races prior. His fourth-place finish was his sixth top-5 of the season, and he sits at ninth in the point standings. Truex Jr. has won the last two races at Kansas, so expect him to contend for his third straight at the track.

6. Brad Keselowski


Change: ↔

Keselowski had a solid run at Dover, earning him a sixth-place finish. He sits fourth in the point standings heading into Kansas. He has one win at Kansas, but it came back in 2011. Since then he’s earned six top-10s, one being a runner-up finish in the spring race last season. It’s a little surprising that we’re 11 races into the season and Kes’ hasn’t won, but that shouldn’t last much longer.

7. Denny Hamlin


Change: ↓3

Hamlin finished seventh at Dover and was able to avoid speeding penalties this week. Hamlin has sped on pit road more than any other driver this season, including two last week at Talladega. He’ll hope to evade the pit road police at Kansas on Saturday night where he has one career victory that came back in 2012. He’s been sporadic over his last five at Kansas, with finishes of fifth, 23rd, 15th, 37th, and second.

8. Kurt Busch


Change: ↓1

Kurt Busch was the third Stewart Haas Racing ford to place in the top-5 at Dover. He finished in the fifth spot, marking his second top-5 of the season, and also his second in a row. He climbs to sixth in the point standings with this solid run. He’s never won at Kansas but has four top-10s over his last six races at the track. He hasn’t visited victory lane in more than a year, his last win came at the Daytona 500 to open the 2017 season.

9. Ryan Blaney


Change: ↓1

Blaney had a solid eighth-place run at Dover and finds himself seventh in the points heading into Kansas. He’s been solid at Kansas in his young career, with an average finish of 10.0 this far. He’s finished in the top-7 four times in his six starts and he earned a pole start in this race last season. This Penske driver is definitely one to watch on Saturday.

10. Kyle Larson


Change: ↑1

Larson was slated to start on the pole at Dover, but a pre-race inspection failure landed him at the rear. He was able to battle back for a 10th place finish, his sixth top-10 of the year. Larson has never won at Kansas and his number need some work. He had an average finish of 21.0 and only has two top-10s over his eight starts. But, he did earn one of his top-10s, a sixth place, in this race last season.

11. Jimmie Johnson


Change: ↑1

Johnson continues to move up the point standings each week after a dreadfully slow start to the season. He’s now made it up to the 12th position, 198 points back from Kyle Busch in first. Johnson’s numbers at Kansas are stellar, including three career wins, nine top-5s, and 17 top-10s. This is a great shot for him to break his career-long winless streak that he’s currently on.

12. Aric Almirola


Change: ↓2

Almirola nearly grabbed a top-10 at Dover but he fell just one position short, finishing the day in 11th. He was forced to start at the rear after failing inspection. Almirola hasn’t had the best of luck at Kansas that’s for sure. In this race last year he go into a hard crash with Joey Logano and Danica Patrick, and the result for him was broken back and several missed races. He rebounded very well with a solid ninth-place run at Kansas in the fall playoff race.

13. Chase Elliott


Change: ↔

Elliott came into the race as a favorite to contend for the win. His average finishing position of 3.25 heading into the race was the best in the series, but he didn’t live up to the expectations. He ran around 10th all afternoon but finished 12th. Elliott has been hit or miss at Kansas in his short career. He has finishes of ninth, 31st, 29th and fourth across his four starts.

14. Daniel Suarez


Change: ↑3

Photo from motorsport.com

Suarez matched his career-best finish of third at Dover on Sunday. He ran a stellar race and was able to bring home a solid third place finish. The finish was his first top-5 of the season and his fourth top-10 run of the year. Over his last four races he’s finished 11th, 10th, 10th and third. In his two starts at Kansas, Suarez has a seventh-place finish and a 36th place finish in the fall race after being involved in a crash.

15. William Byron


Change: ↔

Byron finished 14th in his first career Monster Energy series start at Dover. The rookie continues to look more comfortable each week as NASCAR rolls into Kansas. He’ll be making his first Monster Energy series start on Saturday night at Kansas, but he did run the track last season in the Xfinity series. He finished fourth in the fall playoff race, the highest finisher of all the playoff drivers.

16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.


Change: ↑3

Stenhouse Jr. finished outside the top-10 in 15th, but he actually led 24 laps in the race. The finishing position isn’t very indicative of how well he ran for most of the afternoon, but his Roush Fenway Ford faded late in the race. Stenhouse Jr. has some serious work to do this weekend a Kansas. He’s never earned a top-10 at the track over his 10 starts and has an average finish of 19.1.

17. Alex Bowman


Change: ↓3

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Bowman got trapped a couple laps down for the most of the race and wasn’t able to bounce back from it. He had a fast car that could have competed for a top-15 or even a top-10, but luck was never on his side in terms of getting his laps back. In five career starts at Kansas, Bowman has a putrid average finish of 29.6. But, in his one race at the track in Hendrick equipment, filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., he finished seventh.

18. Erik Jones


Change: ↓2

Jones finished 18th at Dover, one lap down. He ran in the high-teens for most of the race and was always one lap down. For the majority of the race he was the first car one lap down but just couldn’t catch a break to get his lap back. Jones’ stats at Kansas are not good. In his three career stats at the circuit his average finish sits at 32.3, with his worst finish of 40th coming back in 2015 when he filled in for an injured Kyle Busch.

19. Austin Dillon


Change: ↑1

Dillon struggled again this past week as he finished the day in the 26th position. The finish was his sixth straight finish outside the top-10 and his ninth over the last 10 races. Dillon has three top-10s over his nine starts at Kansas and an average finish of 17.6. He sits 18th in the points, 221 points behind Kyle Busch.

20. Ryan Newman


Change: ↓2

Newman finished the race 23 laps down in the 33rd position. He struggled all afternoon and experience several issues that put him that many laps down. Newman has one career victory at Kansas, but it came all the way back in 2003. He has earned three top-5s and seven top-10s over his 24 starts at the track.

 

Falling out of the rankings: —

 

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NASCAR Dover recap

Dover recap: The 4 drives for 4

The AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover featured just about everything you could think of. Long green flag runs, drivers running out of fuel, flat tires and even a long red flag. The race was lengthened by about 45 minutes due to the rainy skies, but the fans that waited out the rain were treated to a good finish once again.

Stage 1

Stage one kicked off with Kevin Harvick out front with Martin Truex Jr. next to him. Kyle Larson qualified on the pole, but was forced to start in the rear due to failing pre-race inspection. Harvick jumped out front on the initial start to the race with Truex in tow.

But on lap five, the caution came out as Darrell Wallace Jr. got into Michael McDowell. Wallace just nudged McDowell enough to send him spinning and bringing out the early caution. Both cars were able to continue on with minimal damage.

Larson and Alex Bowman were the only two cars to pit under this early caution for tires and fuel.

The caution came out once again on lap 21 as Corey LaJoie’s engine blew up. This was the third engine failure he experienced this season across his four races.

All drivers except Larson and Bowman pitted under this caution, leaving them to restart first and second. On the restart, the two were able to slip away for a handful of laps.

After leading 26 laps, Bowman relinquished the lead to Brad Keselowski, who had the fresher tires.

NASCAR Dover recap

(Photo from NASCAR.com)

With 22 laps to go, Truex pits under green as he had a right front tire going flat. Larson and Bowman also pitted under green late in the stage.

With 13 to go in stage one, Harvick took the lead away from Keselowski, who was driving a bit slower to save fuel. Denny Hamlin ran out of gas with two to go, but was able to coast around to end the stage under green.

Harvick won the stage with Kyle Busch passing Keselowski for second as he ran out of fuel. Keselowski coasted to a third-place finish with Daniel Suarez and Kurt Busch rounding out the top five.

Stage 2

Harvick began the second stage right where he started and ended the previous one, first. Keselowski and Kyle Busch rounded out the top three for the restart.

NASCAR Dover recap

(Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images)

Just 32 laps into the stage, Derrike Cope brought out the caution as he spun and smacked the inside wall hard. On pit road during the caution, Keselowski beat Harvick out for the lead.

On the ensuing restart, Keselowski opened up a gap and held Harvick back for a good period of time.

But with just 40 to go in the stage, Harvick made a charge for the lead and took it away from Keselowski once again.

The stage continued the next 40 laps under green with Harvick leading to grab his second stage of the day. Keselowski finished second, Kyle Busch third, Jimmie Johnson fourth and Clint Bowyer fifth.

Final Stage

Once again, Harvick began the stage in the top spot, with Keselowski next to him and Kyle Busch in third. On the restart, the top three all remained in those positions until the next caution.

The next caution came out with 147 laps to go as Cody Ware crashed hard into the outside wall.

NASCAR Dover recap

(Photo from NASCAR.com)

Just 18 laps later, Kyle Busch brought out the caution as his drive shaft broke. His car released smoke and fluid all over the track that required a long cleanup. Busch finished the race 35th, his first finish outside of the top 13 since Daytona.

Busch had been complaining of a vibration in his car from the drop of the green in stage one, but it seemed to have subsided throughout the day. Unfortunately for Busch, it returned and ruined his solid day.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jamie McMurray stayed out under the caution to restart first and second.

On the restart, Stenhouse pulled away from the field as McMurray got freight-trained by the cars behind him. Bowyer cycled out second with Joey Logano third.

After Stenhouse led 24 laps, Bowyer ran him down and took the lead with 103 laps to go.

NASCAR Dover recap

(Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images)

With 84 laps to go, the caution flag waved as rain fell on the track. The race was then put under the red flag for just over 41 minutes, with Bowyer first and his teammate Harvick in second.

Once the race finally got back green again, Bowyer and Harvick pulled away in first and second. After around 25 laps, Harvick wrestled the lead away from his teammate.

The remainder of the race went on caution-free. Harvick finished with a large lead over his teammate Bowyer in second place. The top five was rounded out by Daniel Suarez third, Truex fourth and Kurt Busch fifth.

Harvick’s win marked his fourth of the season and fifth overall for Stewart Haas Racing (SHR). The SHR cars were all strong once again. Three of the four finished in the top five: Harvick, Bowyer and Kurt Busch, while Aric Almirola finished in 11th.

 

Featured image from NASCAR.com

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NASCAR power rankings: Post Talladega

Following each race, I will rank the top 20 drivers based off of their finish over the weekend, their previous ranking and the momentum they’re carrying into the next race. Below the driver’s name, you can see a  or  that indicates whether they’ve climbed the rankings, fallen down the rankings, or  indicating their ranking did not change. If a driver is new to the top 20 ranking, a “↑NPR” (not previously ranked) will be shown next to the “Change:” indicator.

1. Kyle Busch


Change: ↔

Kyle Busch remains at the top of the rankings and the point standings following a 13th place run at Talladega. He managed to avoid the big ones throughout the day for the most part. He got turned in the second big one but spun harmlessly down the apron. Rowdy has a great chance to start a new win streak this weekend as NASCAR travels to Dover. He won this race last year and has three career victories at the track, tied for second-best among active drivers. Plus, he’s finished runner-up at the track four times over his 26 starts.

2. Joey Logano


Change: ↔

Post Talladega

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Logano closes the gap to Kyle Busch in the point standings with his big win at Talladega. He’ll look to make it two in a row as he heads to Dover this week. He’s never won at the track but has 10 top-10s over his 18 starts. Although, he’s only had two top-10s over his last six runs at the circuit.

3. Kevin Harvick


Change: ↔

Harvick kept his car clean at ‘Dega and brought it home P4. He was apart of the strong Ford cars that ran at the front for the majority of the day. He had to finesse his way through the big one in order to stay in contention for a win. Harv’ has a win at Dover in his career that came back in 2015. But as of late he’s been sporadic at the track. Since his 2015 win, he’s had an average finish of 19.5.

4. Denny Hamlin


Change: ↑3

Hamlin managed to speed on pit road not once, not twice, but three times. Even with this he still managed to drive from the back of the pack, avoid the big ones, and finish the race on the lead lap in the 14th position. He had a fast car, leading 11 laps throughout the afternoon. Essential the speeding penalties took him out of contention for a win in the end. Hamlin has never won at Dover but had three top-10s over his last four runs at the track.

5. Clint Bowyer


Change: ↓1

Bowyer got caught up in one of the big ones at ‘Dega. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and couldn’t evade the mess. He has the fifth most top-10s (13) out of active drivers, but only one top-10 over his last five starts at the track. Bowyer finished sixth in the fall 2017 race and he’ll look to repeat that success this weekend.

6. Brad Keselowski


Change: ↔

Keselowski is another driver that got caught up in the big one, and it wasn’t his fault either. He won the first stage of the day and led 21 laps overall. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to fight for the win at the finish with his teammate Logano. He’s earned seven top-10s at Dover with one win that came back in the fall 2012 race. Kes’ has finished inside the top-10 in three of his last four starts. The non-top-10 was due to a crash just 66 laps in that led to a 38th place finish.

7. Kurt Busch


Change: ↑3

Kurt Busch started in the second position on Sunday and after 500 miles he would end up in the same position. He only led five laps throughout the race but consistently ran near the front. He challenged Logano late for the victory but didn’t get enough help to get a pass before the stripe. Busch has one career victory at Dover, but it came but in 2011. He’s struggled immensely since that win. He’s finished inside the top-10 just ONCE in the 12 starts at Dover since his win.

8. Ryan Blaney


Change: ↑1

Post Talladega

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Blaney hoped that his Daytona experience from previous in the year would carry over to Talladega. It didn’t translate very much as he finished 18th with no laps led. He’s been in a bit of a slump since he’s explosive start to the year. He’s finished 35th, 22nd, and 18th over his last three races. YRB has got some work to do at Dover as well. His average finish sits at 25.25 over his four starts and he’s only finished in the top-10 once, an eighth place in his first start there.

9. Martin Truex Jr.


Change: ↓1

The defending champ’s slump continued through Talladega. He got caught up in a wreck in the second stage and was mired a few laps down for the rest of the afternoon. Since the five races since his win at Auto Club, he has just one top-10 and three finishes of 26th or worse. The good news for Truex Jr. is that Dover is one of his top tracks. He’s earned one win at the “Monster Mile” and has seven top-10s over his last eight starts.

10. Aric Almirola


Change: ↑2

Aric Almirola’s consistency at Talladega did not disappoint. He finished seventh on Sunday and managed to keep his car clean all afternoon. He’s now finished in the top-8 over his last four starts at ‘Dega, which is nearly unheard of considering how treacherous the track is. Almirola has three top-10s at Dover, but none since 2015. It’s likely that he’ll contended for a top-10 considering how improved he’s been this year with Stewart Haas equipment.

11. Kyle Larson


Change: ↓6

Post Talladega

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Larson experiences a large six spot slide int his weeks rankings following his dead-last finish at Talladega. Although not his fault, he got caught up in one of the big ones and only earned one point from the race. He’s been sporadic so far this season with an average finish of 15.2 but yet four top-5 finishes. The good news for him is that Dover is arguably his best track. He owns the third-best average finish (7.88) of active drivers. He’s finished in the top-11 in every race but one over his eight starts at Dover.

12. Jimmie Johnson


Change: ↓1

Johnson finished 12th at ‘Dega and continued his slow climb up the point standings. He now sits 14th in the points, inside the playoff picture, where we’re used to seeing him. This weekend at Dover, Johnson has a great opportunity to snap the career-long winless streak he’s riding. He’s the all-time leader in wins at the track with an astounding 11 victories, eight more than next active drivers of Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch.

13. Chase Elliott


Change: ↑3

Chase Elliott is starting to heat up at just the right time. He’s earned finishes of second at Richmond and third at Talladega as NASCAR heads to one of his best tracks. In his four starts at Dover, he has finishes of third, third, fifth and second, good for an average of 3.25… best in the series. He nearly won this race last season until Kyle Busch snatched the lead away from him with less than four to go. Watch for Elliott to fight hard and maybe even get his first win in the series at last.

14. Alex Bowman



Change: ↔

Bowman continued his solid season with an eighth place finish at ‘Dega. He avoided the wrecks and even led 26 laps early in first stage. He moves up to 12th in the point standings, still the highest of the Hendrick stable. As stated nearly every week, “Bowman has some work to do this week.” His numbers are putrid at Dover, with three finishes of 32nd or worse and an average finish of 31.50. But, none of that matters too much because his numbers at every track are nearly that bad because he raced in poor equipment. Now that he is in strong, Hendrick equipment, he’s enabled to contend with the best out there every week.

15. William Byron


Change: ↔

William Byron had a wild ride of day at Talladega. He looked stellar while leading 14 laps and having to continuously block his competitors. Unfortunately, he got wrecked as his 7-time champion teammate spun in front of him, resulting in the poor finish of 29th. But, he had an extremely promising day until that point. In his two Xfinity starts at Dover last season he finished sixth and third. He’ll look to carry those experiences over to the Cup series this weekend.

16. Erik Jones


Change: ↓3

Post Talladega

Photo from NASCAR’s Instagram (@nascar)

Jones slips this week int he rankings following his 39th place finish at Talladega. He wrecked in stage two as him and Jamie McMurray came together to cause the first big one of the afternoon. He’s looked strong in recent races but hasn’t had the finishes to show for it. In his two starts at Dover during his rookie season he earned finishes of 15th and 12th at the track. Watch for Jones to bounce back this week at the Monster Mile with a top-10 run.

17. Daniel Suarez


Change: ↑3

Suarez had a solid day down in Alabama and concluded it with 10th place finish for the second straight week. Over the last three races he’s finished 11th once and 10th twice, helping him start to claw his way closer to the playoff picture. Dover couldn’t have come at a better time for the Mexican driver. He’ll carry his three straight top-11s into a place where he owns the second best average finish (7.00). He’s finished sixth and eighth in his two career starts at the Monster Mile and has a chance to earn his first career win in NASCAR’s top series.

18. Ryan Newman


Change: ↑1

Newman kept his car out of trouble at Talladega and held on for a top-10 finish. He currently sits 16th in the point standings heading into Dover. The veteran has three career wins at the track, but none since 2004 when he drove the No. 12 car for Penske Racing South. He also has the fourth-most top-10s (14) of active drivers at Dover. Although, he’s only had one top-10 over the last six Dover races.

19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.



Change: ↑NPR

Post Talladega

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Stenhouse Jr. vaults back into the rankings this week with his second top-5 in the last three weeks. He couldn’t defend his Talladega win as he had hoped, but he finished the day with a hard fought fifth place. Stenhouse Jr. now finds himself within the playoff picture as he sits 15th in the point standings traveling to Dover. He had his work cut out for him at Dover, he’s only finished in the top-10 once over his 11 career starts at the Monster Mile.

20. Austin Dillon



Change: ↓3

This year’s Daytona 500 winner now finds himself on the brink of sliding out of the power rankings. After wrecking out of Talladega and finish 35th, he now sits the farthest he’s been all season in the points, 17th. Lucky for him his Daytona win locks him into the playoff as long as there’s not more than 16 winners this season. Dillon has only finished in the top-10 once, a 10th place at Auto Club, since his season-opening victory. That’s not a recipe for success in NASCAR’s top series. Don’t expect the tides to turn at Dover for the fifth year driver either. His average finish of 21.89 at the track is the 20th best of active drivers in the series, yikes.

Falling out of the rankings: — Paul Menard (previously 18th)

 

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Talladega Recap: Logano Leads the Way

The Geico 500 at Talladega was primed to be a wreck-fest and it did not disappoint. The race featured a few big wrecks and a great ending that had fans standing up in Alabama and glued to their TVs at home. Several storylines were in play heading into this race, including Kyle Busch chasing his fourth consecutive victory. All things taken into account, the race lived up to his hefty expectations.

Stage One


The race kicked off with two Stewart Haas Racing (SHR) cars on the front row. Kevin Harvick started out P1, with teammate Kurt Busch next to him in P2.

Several big names were forced to start at the rear of the field for varying reasons, including Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray.

Harvick jumped out to the early lead and led the field until green flag pit stops began just 12 laps into the race. With Harvick and half the field coming in for fuel and tires, Alex Bowman assumed the race lead.

Along with Bowman, William Byron, Kyle Larson and Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. all stayed out to stretch the fuel mileage. Bowman led for a while until he struggled to clear a lap car, allowing Bubba Wallace Jr. to snag the lead with under 20 to go in the opening stage.

Talladega Recap

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

With 12 to go in stage one, Wallace Jr. brought the remaining cars to pit road for service. With them all coming in, the lead cycled back to Brad Keselowski in first.

Keselowski went on to win the first stage, followed by Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Paul Menard for the top-5.

Stage Two


To begin stage two, Brad Keselowski held down the top spot with his teammate, Joey Logano, in second.

Soon after the restart, rookie William Byron made a power move and grabbed the lead. He went on to lead a few laps before relinquishing the lead back to Keselowski.

Green flag pit stops began once again just 13 laps into the stage. During the stops, Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Daniel Suarez and Alex Bowman all had speeding penalties on pit road. The all were required to do a pass-through penalty under green.

The first big one occurred on lap 72. Erik Jones got loose and slide up the race track toward Jamie McMurray. Although there was room for both cars, McMurray didn’t move up the track enough and inadvertently turned Jones.

Talladega Recap

Photo from NASCAR.com

Jones collected Trevor Bayne, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and a few others. Truex Jr. and McMurray were able to continue on, but several laps down due to the damage they sustained. Somehow, Harvick, Byron, Aric Almirola, and David Ragan did incredible jobs to avoid the wrecking cars.

On the ensuing restart, Logano was first with Paul Menard second.

With just 14 to go in the stage, Denny Hamlin took the lead. He only held it for 10 laps until Menard grabbed the lead with four to go in the stage. Menard was able to hold on for the stage win.

This was Menard’s first stage win ever since the implementation of the stages at the beginning of last season. Logano, Ryan Blaney, Harvick and Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top-5.

Final Stage


During the pit stops at the end of the second stage, William Byron elected to take no tires and get out front. On the restart it would be Byron in P1 and Blaney in P2.

After Byron led for several laps, Kurt Busch took the lead away.

On lap 129, the caution flag came out for debris on the front-stretch. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. restarted in the first position with Hamlin in second.

After a handful of laps, Denny Hamlin made it 3-wide for the lead and was able to get it. Just a few laps later, Joey Logano took the lead back once again with 49 to go.

Green flag stops began for the final time with 43 laps remaining. Hamlin, Stenhouse Jr., and Suarez all sped while on pit road. During the pass-through penalty, Hamlin sped again. This resulted in another penalty. He was forced to go down pit road again, stop in his pit box, then go back onto the track.

After the green flag stops cycled out, Logano assumed the race lead once again. His teammate Keselowski followed in second, and Almirola in third.

The second big one of the day occurred on lap 166. This was a massive wreck that involved 14 different cars.

Talladega Recap

Photo from motorsport.com

Jimmie Johnson got loose and spun in front of his teammate William Byron. Byron in turn spun as well and collected several others cars.

Byron, Keselowski, Menard, Clint Bowyer, Michael McDowell, AJ Allmendinger and Austin Dillon were all among the cars knocked out of the race from this crash. Kyle Busch, Johnson, and Darrell Wallace Jr. were all able to continue on the lead lap even though they were involved in the wreck.

The race restarted with just 17 laps to go. Logano held down the lead with Harvick in second.

The final 17 laps consisted of Joey Logano doing his best defensive driving to keep Kurt Busch, Harvick, Chase Elliott, and Stenhouse Jr. behind him.

Logano was able to keep the field behind him and take home his first win of the 2018 season. With the win he snapped a 36 race winless streak, and qualified for the playoffs.

Kurt Busch, Elliott, Harvick, and Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top-5. Kyle Busch’s win streak ended at three races as he finished 13th.

 

Next week NASCAR travels to Dover International Speedway.

 

 

Featured image courtesy of motorsport.com/LAT Images

 

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NASCAR power rankings: Post Richmond

Following each race, I will rank the top 20 drivers based off of their finish over the weekend, their previous ranking and the momentum they’re carrying into the next race. Below the driver’s name, you can see a  or  that indicates whether they’ve climbed the rankings, fallen down the rankings, or  indicating their ranking did not change. If a driver is new to the top 20 ranking, a “↑NPR” (not previously ranked) will be shown next to the “Change:” indicator.

1. Kyle Busch



Change: ↔

Post Richmond

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Rowdy did it again. Kyle Busch found some speed late in the race and pulled away off a late restart to win the night race at Richmond. Busch is on fire right now having won three straight races and finished in the top-3 across his last seven starts. He leads the points over second place, Joey Logano, by 56 points. He also leads the playoff standings with 17 points, five more than Kevin Harvick in second. It’ll be tough for him to make it four straight at the wild card that is Talladega. He does have one career win at ‘Dega that came back in April of 2008.

2. Joey Logano


Change: ↑1

Logano pocketed two stage wins Saturday night at Richmond but wasn’t able to repeat as the race winner from 2017. He led 92 laps enroute to his fourth place finish. Logano’s car faded as the sun set but he was still able to remain in the top-5. He sits second in the points and is still looking for his first win since Richmond of last year. “JoLo” has two career wins at Talladega that came in October of 2015 and October of 2016. He should be a factor for the win as long as he can avoid “the big one.”

3. Kevin Harvick


Change: ↓1

Harvick only led eight laps at Richmond but kept his car new the front for the majority of the evening. He finished fifth and was the highest finishing Stewart Haas Racing (SHR) driver of the night. He’s fourth in the point standings and second in the playoff standings heading down to Alabama. Harvick has one career victory at Talladega, but it came eight years ago in April of 2010. Back then he still drove the 29 car for Richard Childress Racing (RCR).

4. Clint Bowyer


Change: ↑1

Post Richmond

Photo from motorsport.com

Bowyer had another solid top-10 run at Richmond. 10 years ago, back in 2008, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrecked while in first and second, allowing him to slip by for the win. In 2018, Bowyer led 45 laps but finished ninth. He finished in the top-10 of both stages on the evening and left the track with 43 points in his pocket. He finds himself third in the season standings, 86 points back from Kyle Busch. Bowyer is having arguably his best season to date and he’ll look to continue it at Talladega. The SHR driver has two career wins at the track, way back in October of 2011 and October of 2010.

5. Kyle Larson


Change: ↔

Larson wasn’t able to get out front and lead any laps but he ran solidly inside the top-10 all night. He finished the night up in the seventh position, tallying his fifth top-10 of the season. Late in the race, teammate Jamie McMurray showed his displeasure with Larson for an unknown reason by trading some paint under caution. Larson claimed he didn’t know what it was about, but said they’d be okay. In Larson’s eight starts at ‘Dega, he only has two top-10s. His best finish of sixth came back in October of 2016.

6. Brad Keselowski


Change: ↑2

Keselowski had a solid day at Richmond, earning himself a top-10 finish in the eighth position. He also finished eighth in the second stage of the day to earn a few stage points. He did an incredible job of avoiding a spinning Ricky Stenhouse Jr. late in the race as he squeezed between the inside wall and the 17, missing both by a mere foot. ‘Kes’ has five career wins at Talladega scattered across his career. He won his first start at the track back in 2009 while driving the 09 car for Phoenix Racing. He picked up his fifth win at the track back in the fall of 2017, the last time NASCAR visited the Superspeedway.

7. Denny Hamlin


Change: ↑3

Hamlin ran well at his home track, leading six laps, enroute to a third place finish. Although he finished the race with a podium result, he never finished a stage inside the top-10. He found some speed late in the race and battled with Chase Elliott in the dying laps for the runner-up finish, but Elliott prevailed. The Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) driver has one career victory at ‘Dega that came back in May of 2014. He sits sixth in the points after nine races this season.

8. Martin Truex Jr.


Change: ↓1

It appeared that Martin Truex Jr. was on track to get his first short track victory until a late hiccup on pit road set him back in the pack. He wasn’t able to bounce-back and finish in the 14th position. He led the most laps on the night, 121, but wasn’t rewarded with the finish he had hoped. He’s in the midst of a cold streak heading into Talladega with finishes of 37th, 30th, and 14th over the last three races. Truex Jr. has never won at Talladega, and he’s on a streak of three-straight finishes of 23rd or worse.

9. Ryan Blaney


Change: ↓5

Blaney had a bit of an off night at Richmond on Saturday. He’d been running in the top-10 consistently in nearly every race this season, but he just didn’t have it at Richmond. He failed to earn any stage points throughout the race and finished in a paltry 22nd position. He slips to eighth in the point standings and ninth in my power rankings after the clunker on Saturday. Blaney hasn’t had great luck at Talladega in his short career. He’s earned two top-10s in his seven starts, but none since 2016. He has an average finish of 20.86 at the Superspeedway.

10. Kurt Busch


Change: ↑3

Post Richmond

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Kurt Busch became the 21st driver in NASCAR history to lead at least 9,000 laps in his career. He was able to accomplish the feat with his 98 laps led at Richmond. He ran up front for most of the race, finishing third and fourth in the two stages, but faded late in the race to an 11th place finish. Busch finds himself ninth in the points heading into Talladega. He’s never won there but has a very respectable average finish of 15.88 at the highly unpredictable track. SHR has looked great so far this season and Busch has too, watch for him to run well at ‘Dega.

11. Jimmie Johnson


Change: ↑3

“7-time” put together back-to-back top-10s for the first time this season from Bristol to Richmond. He scraped the wall early and didn’t look to be having great night, but he bounced back very strong and fought for a sixth place finish. He’s finally starting to come alive and climb the standings. Johnson has won at the Superspeedway twice in his career but hasn’t experienced much success in recent years. He’s finished 22nd or worse in three of his last four trips to the track and has only led three total laps over those four races.

12. Aric Almirola



Change: ↓3

Almirola finished outside the top-10 for the fourth time in the last five races. He ran well early, finishing second in the first stage and third in the second stage. He finished the day with a 17th place finish due to a pit road issue. Outside of a stellar sixth place run at Bristol, he’s in a bit of a skid heading into Talladega. He’s been great at Talladega recently, as he’s finished in the top-8 the last three races. Watch for a bounce-back race at ‘Dega this week for the Stewart Haas driver.

13. Erik Jones


Change: ↓1

Jones experienced a grueling night at Richmond. He even found himself a lap down at one point and had to battle to get his lap back. He was eventually able to get it back and salvage a respectable 13th place finish. As we hit the 1/4 mark of the season, Jones sits 12th in the point standings, 47 points inside the playoff picture. He’s got his work cut out for him at Talladega, he’s finished 33rd and 36th in his two starts at the track after wrecking out both times.

14. Alex Bowman



Change: ↓3

Bowman found himself in a similar boat as Jones for the majority of Saturday night. He fought to get his lap back and battled a racecar that wasn’t really up to his liking. He’s still the highest Hendrick driver in the point standings in the 13th position. Bowman has a best finish of 16th at ‘Dega, but an average finish of 31.20 at the track. Look for him to improve on his average finishing position as long as he can avoid “the big one.”

15. William Byron


Change: ↑3

The rookie continues to improve week after week. He looked great at Richmond and his 12th place finish isn’t very indicative of how good he was throughout the night. He started ninth and drove his way to two top-5 stage finishes, fourth and fifth. A pit road speeding penalty set him back late and was the reason behind the non-top-10 finish. The great run is still extremely encouraging as he heads into his first career race at Talladega in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS). He finished 36th in his only Xfinity start at the track after he wrecked out after only 32 laps.

16. Chase Elliott



Change: ↑3

Post Richmond

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Elliott fought for a runner-up finish at Richmond on Saturday night. He stole the second position from Denny Hamlin on a late restart but wasn’t able to run down Kyle Busch for the lead. The second place finish was his second top-3 of the season, he finished third at Phoenix a few weeks back. Elliott has an average finish of 15.24 at Talladega with a best finish of fifth in his first career start there back in May of 2016. He’s started inside the top-8 in all four of his starts at the track. If he can avoid wrecks, he’ll have a great shot at his first career win.

17. Austin Dillon


Change: ↓2

Dillon has only earned one top-10 since he won the season-opener at Daytona. After his win, his best finish has been 10th and his average finish has been a dismal 17.5. Dillon has an average finish of 20.00 over his nine starts at Talladega. He’s earned two top-10s and one top-5 both in the 2016 season. Everyone has a shot at the win on restrictor-plate tracks and he did win the first restrictor plate track of the season. He could be a factor late in this one.

18. Paul Menard


Change: ↓1

Menard hasn’t finished in the top-10 since Las Vegas, which seems like ages ago. He opened the season with two top-10s in the first three races, but since then his average finish is 22.5. He’ll look to get back on the right track at Talladega where he’s earned six top-10s over his 23 career starts at the Superspeedway. For the first time this season he finds himself outside the playoff picture as he’s now 18th in the points.

19. Ryan Newman


Change: ↓3

Ryan Newman left Richmond with a brutal result of 37th. He only gained five points from the race, and four of those came from his seventh place finish in the second stage. He made heavy contact with the wall when he was forced into it by Jamie McMurray with less than 50 laps to go. Newman has never won at Talladega but he’s coming off a second place finish the last time NASCAR visited the 2.66 mile long track.

20. Daniel Suarez


Change: ↑NPR

Post Richmond

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Suarez finds his way back into the top-20 rankings after falling out after Auto Club. He’s strung together two good runs in a row, all while nursing a fractured thumb the last three weeks. He finished 11th at Bristol and 10th at Richmond, his second top-10 of the season. He’s climbed back to the 21st spot in the points after a sluggish start to the season. He’s starting to hit his stride as NASCAR rolls into Talladega. In his rookie season he finished 19th and 15th at the track and led 11 laps late in the second race before getting wrecked. Suarez will look to continue his good runs at Talladega and compete for his first career win.

Falling out of the rankings: — Darrell Wallace Jr. (previously 20th)

 

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Richmond recap

Richmond Recap: Busch for the 3-peat

The Saturday night race at Richmond got off to a slow start but ended with a bang. Unlike the previous week, fans were treated to some nice weather to go along with their racing. This race last season was won by Joey Logano but it was eventually encumbered due to a post-race inspection failure. This year’s Richmond run went encumber-free and featured a great NASCAR Overtime finish.

Stage One


The stage began with Martin Truex Jr. on the pole looking for his first short track win of his career. He got out to the early lead until Joey Logano ran him down and took the lead on lap 39.

Richmond Recap

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

From there on Logano was able to run away with the lead and hang on to it until the end of the first stage. This was Logano’s first stage win of the season. He ran very well at Richmond last spring en route to his victory, and he seemed to have the car tuned up early in this one.

Kyle Busch started the race in the 32nd position and used most of the first stage to cut through the field. By the end of the stage, he cracked the top-10 and finish the stage in the sixth position. He was the only Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) driver to finish in the top-10 of the first stage, even though two other JGR drivers started inside the top-10 (Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones).

Rookie William Byron put together a solid start to the race and finished the first stage in fourth. The finish earned him seven points. His teammate, Chase Elliott, was the only other Hendrick driver in the top-10 at the end of the stage, he finished seventh.

Aric Almirola also had a great first stage. He began the race back in 25th but finished up the stage running second, good for eight stage points. Stewart Haas Racing (SHR) was able to place all four of their cars in the top-10 at the end of the first stage, with Almirola leading the way.

The first stage went caution-free as all drivers did a good job of racing each other clean.

Stage Two


The second stage nearly mirrored the first. Once again Joey Logano put his car out front and did what he had to do to earn his second stage win of the day. With his two stage wins on the day, he earned two playoff points that will be big down the stretch when the playoffs begin.

While Logano was able to grab the stage win again, the SHR cars continued to make their charge to the front. Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, and Kurt Busch finished the second stage running second through fourth. Kevin Harvick was the only SHR driver outside the top-5, he finished the stage 10th.

Richmond recap

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

William Byron had another solid run, he finished his Hendrick Chevy in the fifth position. He was the only Hendrick driver in stage two to finish in the top-10.

Just like the first stage, this one also went caution-free. With the first two stages complete in the race, the only cautions on the track were from the conclusion of both stages. This was a major change in comparison to the countless cautions that occurred during the first two stages of the race last weekend at Bristol.

 

Final Stage


The final stage is where things finally started to heat up on the track.

Many storylines played into the conclusion of this one. Joey Logano was looking to reach victory lane for the first time in a year, Martin Truex Jr. was looking to grab his first short track win of his career and Kyle Busch was looking to become the second driver to win three straight races this season.

As the sun set, the handling began to fade on the 22 car and Logano began to slip back.

Kyle Busch’s car really came alive and the Truex Jr./Kyle Busch battle was on full display once again. Just like they have over the past two season, Truex Jr. and Busch found themselves battling for the lead near the end of the race.

Unfortunately for Truex Jr., his crew struggled on the final pit stop, losing him nine positions. He wasn’t able to bounce back, finishing the race in the 14th position.

Richmond recap

Blaney turns Stenhouse Jr. in front of several cars. Photo from NASCAR.com

During a few caution laps, teammates Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson appeared to trade paint a few times on purpose. McMurray was clearly unhappy with something Larson had done on the track.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. brought out a late caution that pushed the race into overtime. While in the pits, Kyle Busch had a great stop and was able to get his car out in first.

On the final restart, Kyle Busch jumped out to a lead while the pack battled behind him. He was able to hold off the pack to earn his third consecutive victory of the season. Chase Elliott passed Denny Hamlin on the final restart to finish in the runner-up position for the eighth time in his short career.

Richmond Recap

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Next week NASCAR travels to Talladega Superspeedway for the Geico 500. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won this race last season, earning his first career victory in NASCAR’s top series.

Kyle Busch has one career win at Talladega that came back in April of 2008. He’s looking to become the first driver to win four consecutive races since Jimmie Johnson did it back in 2007.

 

 

 

Featured image courtesy of motorsport.com/LAT Images

 

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NASCAR power rankings: Post Bristol

Following each race, I will rank the top 20 drivers based off of their finish over the weekend, their previous ranking and the momentum they’re carrying into the next race. Below the driver’s name, you can see a  or  that indicates whether they’ve climbed the rankings, fallen down the rankings, or  indicating their ranking did not change. If a driver is new to the top 20 ranking, a “↑NPR” (not previously ranked) will be shown next to the “Change:” indicator.

1. Kyle Busch


Change: ↔

Post Bristol

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

Kyle Busch put together another great performance in Thunder Valley and came out with his second win of the season. He led 117 laps on the afternoon, the second-most to only Kyle Larson. He’s been truly dominant this season with an average starting position of 5.8 and an even better average finishing position of 5.4; both statistics are the best in the sport. Over his last six races he has two wins, three second places, and one third place finish.

He’s carrying tons of momentum heading into the race at Richmond Raceway on Saturday night. Rowdy has four career wins at the track, along with 15 top-5s over his 25 starts. Who can stop him??

2. Kevin Harvick



Change: ↑2

Kevin Harvick may be one of the few drivers who can stop Kyle Busch. After all, he does have three wins already this season. “Harv” ran outside the top-10 for most of the day at Bristol but brought home a solid seventh-place finish in the end. He sits third in the standings heading into Richmond this weekend. He’s earned three career wins at the track, with the most recent coming back in April of 2013.

3. Joey Logano


Change: ↑1

Logano continues to plug away each week and produce solid results. He snagged his seventh top-10 of the season Monday at Bristol with his ninth-place finish. His seven top-10s is tied with only Kyle Busch for the most in the series. It was one year ago this weekend that Logano won his last race. He started fifth and led 25 laps en route to his only win of the season. As we all know, the win was encumbered, meaning it didn’t count towards the playoffs. He didn’t’ win again in 2017 and missed the playoffs on points. He’ll look to repeat and win Richmond again this year, but avoid the post-race inspection failure and solidify his playoff berth.

4. Ryan Blaney


Change: ↓1

Post Bristol

Photo from NASCAR’s Instagram (@NASCAR)

Ryan Blaney had an incredible run going at Bristol until he got caught up in a wreck. He easily had the best car on the track and had already led 100 of the first 118 laps run as the end of stage one neared. Lap cars wrecked in front of him and he was unable to avoid the crash. The result was a 35th place finish. He slips to sixth in the standings, 98 points behind points-leader, Kyle Busch. He’s got some serious work to do at Richmond where he has an average finish of 30.25 over his four career races there.

5. Kyle Larson


Change: ↑6

Larson ran a stellar race, Sunday and Monday, but was unable to secure the victory. He led a race-high 200 laps en route to his second runner-up finish of the season. While leading midway through the race, he spun off the front of Ryan Newman’s car while putting him a lap down. He made an incredible save and kept his car off the wall as several cars miraculously avoided him. Larson has an average finish of 10.38 at Richmond, with his lone win at the track coming back in September, the last time NASCAR visited the circuit.

6. Clint Bowyer


Change: ↔

Clint Bowyer pieced together his fifth top-10 of the season. He had 13 all of 2017, and is nearly halfway there through only eight races. He has an average finish of 8.9 so far this season, the third-best in the entire series. Bowyer has two career victories at Richmond, with the most recent occurring back in the fall 2012 race. But, he’s been on a bit of a rough streak over his last four races at the track. He has four straight finishes of 15th or worse, with three outside the top-20.

7. Martin Truex Jr.


Change: ↓2

Post Bristol

Photo from motorsport.com/LAT Images

The defending series champ has a had a rough go the last two weeks. He blew a right front and crashed out at Texas, finishing dead last. Then, he got caught up in the lap three wreck at Bristol which damaged his car far beyond being competitive. He finished the race 42 laps down, with a car that was missing the hood and the majority of the front end. He’s slipped to seventh in the points and in the rankings after his two race skid.

Richmond is one of the few tracks that Truex Jr. could use some work at. He owns an average finish of 20.04 at the track with eight top-10s over his 24 starts at the track.

8. Brad Keselowski


Change: ↓1

Keselowski’s finishing position at Bristol isn’t indicative of how he ran all day long. He won both stages and led 67 laps between Sunday and Monday. Late in the race his car faded a bit and also developed a tire rub. The tire eventually blew and he smoked the outside wall, requiring repairs that would put him five laps down. The silver lining is that he earned two playoff points from the stage wins that will be huge when the playoffs begin. “Kes” has one win at Richmond that came back in the fall of 2014.

9. Aric Almirola


Change: ↑3

Almirola’s surprise season just keeps on chugging. He came into Bristol with only two top-10s over his 18 starts there, but he earned his third top-10 by the end of the race. He brought it home in the sixth position after starting back in the 19th spot. It appears that the new Stewart Haas Racing (SHR) equipment is making the difference this season for Almirola as he puts together great runs week after week. He’s only finished outside the top-15 once, 32nd at Texas, after getting caught up in a wreck that wasn’t his fault. He’ll look to keep the strong runs coming this weekend at Richmond.

10. Denny Hamlin


Change: ↓2

Hamlin finished the day a lap down in the 14th position. He was battling for the lead at one point and led four laps, but developed a loose wheel and was forced to pit under green. He went two laps down at the time and was only able to earn one lap back the rest of the race.

Hamlin sits eighth in the standings heading into his home track, Richmond Raceway, where he’ll be one of the favorites. His three wins at the track are the second-most in the series, one less than teammate Kyle Busch. He’s captured three poles, the most of active drivers, and has led 1,653 laps at the track. The next closest active driver in laps led is Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch with 1,061 and 1,057 respectively.

11. Alex Bowman


Change: ↑3

Bowman put together his best run of the season and the result showed it. In his first four Bristol races he had finished 32nd three times and 20th once. On Monday afternoon he ripped off a fifth-place finish, his first career top-5. He was one of two Hendrick drivers earning a top-5 on the day, veteran teammate Jimmie Johnson being the other. Bowman looked excellent throughout the race and climbs to 13th in the standings, the highest of the Hendrick stable.

Similar to Bristol, Bowman has an average finish of 33.75 at Richmond over his four career starts at the track. Expect him to run much better than that on Saturday night in his Hendrick ride.

12. Erik Jones


Change: ↓3

Post Bristol

Photo from NASCAR’s Instagram (@NASCAR)

Jones had a rollercoaster day at Bristol, and unfortunately for him it ended on a low-point. On Sunday, he found himself battling for the lead and turning fast laps at the front of the pack. But once the race resumed on Monday, he quickly tanked outside the top-20. Then he sustained heavy damage to the grill of his car and wasn’t able to bounce back from that, resulting in the disappointing 26th place finish, six laps down.

He slips a bit to 12th in the points and also 12th in the rankings. Look for a bounce-back race Saturday night at Richmond. In the fall race he finished sixth at the track in just his second career start at the track.

13. Kurt Busch



Change: ↓3

Busch qualified second, on the outside of the front row with his younger brother, Kyle. After qualifying, things really went downhill from there. He was forced to start at the rear after he crashed in final practice. The race didn’t necessarily go his way either as he finished 22nd, four laps down. He’ll look to fare better this weekend at Richmond. Kurt has two career victories at the track, the most recent coming back in April of 2015. He’s on a streak of four straight top-10s at Richmond, including a finish of fourth in the race back in the fall.

14. Jimmie Johnson


Change: ↑5

The Jimmie Johnson we’ve all been waiting for finally showed up on Sunday and Monday afternoon. Jimmie finished seventh and third in the first two stages and then finished the race in the third position. This was his best finish of the season and his first top-5 run of the year. He battled for the lead with Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski for several laps but still wasn’t able to lead his first laps of the season. Johnson is tied with Hamlin and Harvick for the second-most wins at Richmond with three. He’ll look to carry this momentum into Richmond and grab his first win of the season.

15. Austin Dillon


Change: ↔

Dillon finished the race 15th but ran inside the top-10 for a good majority of the race. It was a decent bounce back race for him as his previous two finishes were outside the top-25. He sits 14th in the point standings but has already solidified his playoff berth with his win at Daytona. Heading into Richmond, he has his work cut out for him. In his eight career starts at the track he has seven finishes of 20th or worse, and the other start was a respectable 13th place finish.

16. Ryan Newman


Change: ↑2

Newman had a wild day at Bristol. He battled for the lead several times, was a lap down several times, and even spun the leader out while fighting to stay on the lead lap. Plus, he sustained heavy rear end damage early on in the race but it barely affected him. He ended the day on the lead-lap and finished 10th, his second top-10 finish of the year. Newman has one win at Richmond over his 32 starts at the track, but it came 15 years ago.

17. Paul Menard


Change: ↔

Post Bristol

Photo from NASCAR’s Instagram (@NASCAR)

Menard had a car that, for most of the day, looked like a top-5 car that could challenge for the win. But as the race went on he faded outside the top-10. He finished the race in the 13th position, and finds himself 16th in the point standings. He hasn’t earned a top-10 finish since the third race of the season when NASCAR visited Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Menard may have a tough day ahead at Richmond, as he’s only earned one top-10 at Richmond over his 22 starts and it came back in 2013.

18. William Byron



Change: ↓2

Byron looked like a top-10 car early in the race as he drove his way into the top-10, but he wasn’t able to keep it there. He faded outside the top-10 and eventually into the high-teens. By the end of the race he slipped down two laps and finished in the 18th position. He did have his bright spots throughout the day, driving his way into the top-10 and avoiding several wrecks. In Byron’s two Xfinity starts at Richmond, he finished seventh and 30th due to a crash.

19. Chase Elliott


Change: ↓6

Elliott had yet another rough day at the race track. He got caught up in a wreck on lap three, and like many times this season, it wasn’t his fault. Elliott was behind the eight ball for the rest of the race as he needed several extra pit stops to repair his car. He ended the day 29th, 27 laps down. He continues to slide in the point standings and my power rankings as he now sits 23rd and 19th in the two. Over his five starts at Richmond, he has an average finish of 16.20 with one top-10, a 10th place finish that he earned in the fall race in 2017.

20. Darrell Wallace Jr.



Change: ↑NPR

Post Bristol

Photo from NASCAR’s Instagram (@NASCAR)

Darrell Wallace Jr. finds his way back into my power rankings for the first time since he fell out of the rankings after the Phoenix race. Bubba led his first career laps in NASCAR’s top series on Monday, a total of six. This was the first time that an African American driver led laps since 1963 when Wendell Scott did at Jacksonville. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to keep the lead and he eventually faded down the stretch to a 16th place finish. He’ll be making his first career Cup start at Richmond this weekend, look for an energetic and motivated Bubba on Saturday night.

Falling out of the rankings: — AJ Allmendinger (previously 20th)

 

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