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NASCAR Power Rankings After Bristol

There have been two action-packed races since the last edition of The Game Haus NASCAR power rankings. The Cup Series had races at both Charlotte and Bristol with Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski capturing wins.

Following rain that forced the event to be moved to Thursday, NASCAR put on its second race at Charlotte. The Alsco Uniforms 500 saw Chase Elliott race his way into victory lane, snapping a streak of unlucky incidents that had prevented him from capturing his first win of the season. The race featured 15 lead changes during the 208 laps around the 1.5-mile oval. Chase Elliott held off second and third place finishers Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney to take the win.

On Sunday, NASCAR returned to Bristol Motor Speedway. The grueling 500 lap race came down to a late-race restart where Brad Keselowski was able to escape trouble to steal a win. With only a few laps to go, Chase Elliott drove into turns 3 and 4 too hard and got loose. He then carried the #9 car up the race track forcing Joey Logano into the wall. The two were running first and second at the time of the incident. With the door now open,  Keselowski was able to stay low to avoid the incident. The caution flag did not come out allowing Keselowski to hold off Clint Bowyer to capture the win.

Click here to see last week’s power rankings.

1. Brad Keselowski

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Bad Brad holds onto the number one spot after capturing a win in the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Keselowski cruised to a win after an incident between Joey Logano and Chase Elliott allowed him to race into the lead late in the race. Coming off a win in last Sunday’s Coca Cola 600, Keselowski continues to roll. He earned stage points in each of the stages at Bristol and finished with a top-10 at Charlotte. Keselowski has two Cup Series wins at Atlanta, the site of the next NASCAR race this season.

2. Chase Elliott

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Chase Elliott looked poised to take over the first place spot in the power rankings. However, a big mistake at Bristol relegated the #9 to 22nd place on the night. With two laps to go, Elliott was battling hard with the #22 of Joey Logano. Logano was able to pass the #9 before Elliott executed a bump-and-run in turns 1 and 2 that allowed him to regain the lead. As the two battled for the lead Elliot dove low into 3 and 4 and was unable to hold the bottom. He got loose and went hard into Logano. This allowed most of the field to pass him in the closing laps. Elliot went from battling for a win to falling out of the top-20 in a matter of seconds. Elliott maintains his spot in the power rankings with an impressive win in the second race at Charlotte. Elliott admitted to holding his breath in the closing laps, expecting a repeat of what happened in the Coca Cola 600. Fortunately for him, the caution never came out and Elliott captured the win.

3. Kevin Harvick

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Unfortunately, Kevin Harvick’s streak of 13 top 10s in a row came to a close on Sunday at Bristol. Coming one spot short of yet another top 10, Harvick continues to show he is one of the most consistent drivers this season. At Charlotte, Harvick finished with points in both stages and brought home the #4 Ford in 10th place. Despite finishing in the top ten in both stages at Bristol, Harvick fell just short of a top ten that would have made his streak 14 in a row. Harvick continues to lead the point standings by 24 over Joey Logano. Harvick has two wins at Atlanta, his last coming in 2018.

4. Denny Hamlin

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Denny Hamlin moves up one spot in this week’s power rankings after two respectable races. On Thursday, Hamlin captured a runner-up position despite not earning points in either stage. It was quite a different story at Bristol where Hamlin finished in the points in both stages before bringing the #11 Toyota Camry home in 17th. A mistake in the closing laps prevented Hamlin from achieving a better finishing position. While battling for the lead, Hamlin got loose exiting turn two. This allowed both Joey Logano and Chase Elliott to pass him. While entering turn 3, Hamlin got into the back of the #22 which sent the #11 around to bring out the caution. Hamlin currently sits at seventh in the points standings with two wins on the year.

5. Joey Logano

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Logano’s car seemed strong during both races this past week. In the first race, Logano won stage one and finished in third in stage two. He was able to bring the #22 home in sixth place garnering an impressive 49 points at Charlotte. The race on Sunday seemed to be going similarly well for Logano, who had a chance to capture his third win on the season. However, a late-race battle with the #9 turned into a disaster for Logano when Elliott forced him into the wall. Logano fell all the way to 21st despite earning points in both stages. After the race, Logano walked over to Elliott to express his frustration with the driver of the NAPA Chevy. Their confrontation can be seen below:

6. Kyle Busch

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Kyle Busch jumps up in the rankings mostly due to some struggles from those ahead of him. Busch did not run well at Charlotte where he failed to finish in the points in either of the stages. He brought his Toyota home in a disappointing 29th on the night. The driver of the #18 turned it around at Bristol with a top-five. Despite not being much of a factor early in the race due to a speeding penalty on pit road, Busch charged through the field to contend for the win late. As the #18 looks forward to Atlanta, he has two wins and five top-fives in 21 races at the 1.5-mile oval.

7. Martin Truex Jr.

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Martin Truex Jr. has not been himself this season with the departure of his crew chief, Cole Pearn. The driver of the #19 does not have a single top five this season and has yet to win any stages. Although the season standings may not show it, Truex has struggled this season and is surely not where he wants to be nine races into the season. With that said, struggles continued for Truex at both Charlotte and Bristol. He failed to earn a single stage point in either race this week. He managed to earn a top 10 finish at Charlotte but finished a disappointing 20th at Bristol. Truex will look to turn things around at Atlanta, however, Truex does not have any wins in 21 races at the track.

8. Kurt Busch

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Kurt Busch was impressive in each of the races this week. He finished in the top 10 in both races and finished in the points in half of the stages. Kurt Busch continues to be the picture of consistency with six top 10s in nine races this season. Expect Busch to run well at Atlanta, a track where he boasts three wins.

9. Alex Bowman

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Alex Bowman had two disappointing races this week with finishes of 31st and 37th. At Charlotte, Bowman was running second when he spun coming out of turn three causing a tire rub. He would make it around to pit road where his crew worked to fix the damage. He would go on to finish the race two laps down despite winning stage 2. Trouble continued at Bristol, but this time it wasn’t his fault. Bowman got caught up in a big wreck that would end his day early. Making matters worse, Atlanta has been one of Bowman’s worst tracks since ascending to the Cup Series. He has zero top 10s and has an average finish position of 23.2.

10. Ryan Blaney

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Power Rankings - Ryan Blaney

Image courtesy of NASCAR Media

Ryan Blaney looked very strong in both races this past week. He was a contender for the win late at Charlotte where he brought his Ford home in third place on the night. He finished second in both stages as well and brought home the most points of any driver with 52. His drop in the rankings can mostly be contributed to his run at Bristol. Blaney looked very strong early and looked to be a potential pick to win the race. However, a mistake in the second stage would relegate him to last place. While running second, Blaney spun exiting turn 2. It appeared Blaney had averted damage but the #13 of Ty Dillion came in late to take the front nose off the #12. He also suffers from a lack of top 10s at Atlanta and a disappointing average finishing position of 19.2 at the track.

11. Erik Jones

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Erik Jones is still struggling to find the consistency he will need to be a contender for the championship this season. Barely sitting inside the top-16 in points, Jones needs to put together some more consistent finishes if he hopes to contend come time for the playoffs. This problem could be seen this past week where Jones earned a top-five at Bristol but settled for a disappointing 26th at Charlotte. The good news for Jones is that he has the second-highest finishing position among active drivers at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He must capitalize to turn around what has proven to be a rough season.

12. Jimmie Johnson

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In the last two races, Jimmie Johnson showed something that has eluded him this season; consistency. The driver of the #48 finished in 11th and third in races at Charlotte and Bristol. He needs to work on running better in the early stages of the race where he only managed to grab one playoff point across the two races. Johnson looks forward to Atlanta where he has five wins and 14 top-fives in 28 races.

13. Austin Dillon

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Austin Dillon jumps into the top 15 in this week’s power rankings after two strong runs. He finished the weekend with two top 10s in each of the races this week. Dillon has been more impressive since NASCAR returned from hiatus. Dillon finds himself in the top 16 in points after his strong runs at Charlotte and Bristol. The #3 team hopes to keep the good times rolling at Atlanta.

14. John Hunter Nemechek

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JHN has been nothing short of impressive in his rookie season in subpar equipment. In his first season in the Cup Series, Nemechek currently sits at 20th in points despite being a driver for an underfunded team in Front Row Motorsports. His #38 car finished last season in 30th in points with David Ragan at the wheel. If it wasn’t for some unfortunate incidents this season, JHN very well could have seen himself in the top 16 in points.

15. Tyler Reddick

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Similar to John Hunter Nemechek, Reddick has been impressive in his rookie season. The #8 was poised to have yet another strong at Bristol before being caught up in the same wreck that took out Alex Bowman. At Charlotte, Reddick posted a top-15, finishing in 14th place. Reddick currently sits just outside the top-16 in points at 18th.

Falling out of the rankings: Aric Almirola (was 12th) and Matt DiBenedetto (was 14th)

Featured Image courtesy of NASCAR Media

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