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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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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