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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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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