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NASCAR power rankings: Post Atlanta

NASCAR power rankings

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 an  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. Joey Logano

Change: 1

NASCAR power rankings
Photo from Matthew T. Thacker/LAT Images

Logano takes over the top spot after a solid run at Atlanta where he brought his Ford home in sixth place. He also took over the top spot in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series (NMECS) standings. He’s one of only two drivers that have finished in the top 10 in both races this season.

Logano’s comeback season is in full swing, and he’ll look to continue his early season success this week at Las Vegas. He has three top-4 finishes and an average starting position of 2.75 over the last four Las Vegas races.

2. Denny Hamlin

Change: 1

Hamlin moves up one spot this week after finishing fourth at Atlanta. He attempted to run a risky fuel mileage race to beat the dominating Kevin Harvick, but a late caution ruined that strategy. He led 26 laps throughout the race and was able to put together a full race and a solid finish.

He’s finished in the top-6 at two of the last three Vegas races. Look for him to be strong again this week.

3. Kevin Harvick

Change: 7

NASCAR power rankings
Photo from kevinharvick.com

Harvick vaults up seven spots after his thoroughly dominating victory over the weekend. After leading the most laps in the previous four Atlanta races, he had no victories to show for it. This time around, he finally was able to close out the race and earn his nickname, “the closer.”

Harvick is already locked into the playoffs now, and from here on out, he’ll look to earn wins and playoff points to boost his playoff seed when the regular season ends.

4. Martin Truex Jr.

Change: 

The defending series champ remains fourth in the power rankings following a fairly uneventful day at Atlanta. He started all the way back in 35th, but drove his way up through the field relatively quickly. He then hung near the front and kept his car clean, finished the race fifth and earned seven stage points along the way.

As NASCAR heads to Las Vegas this weekend, watch out for Truex Jr. Everyone knows of his overall domination on mile and a half tracks, plus he won this race last season.

5. Brad Keselowski

Change: 2

Keselowski ran top-3 for the majority of the race and finished his Penske Ford in the runner-up spot to Kevin Harvick. He won the second stage of the day, picking up one playoff point for the postseason. Keselowski continues to climb the standings following his wreck at Daytona.

He’ll be a force to reckon with at Las Vegas this weekend. He’s won two of the last four races there, and has finished in the top-7 across the last five at the track.

6. Kyle Busch

Change: 

Busch stays put in the power rankings this week after his average day at Atlanta. “Rowdy” started out on the pole, but was really no match for Harvick or Keselowski throughout the day. He led nine laps and scored points in both stages for a total of 13 stage points on the day. He finished the day with a solid seventh place finish.

This week, he heads to Las Vegas where he’s finished fourth twice over the last four races at his home track. He should be a factor throughout this Sunday’s race.

7. Kyle Larson

Change: ↓2

NASCAR power rankings
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Larson falls two spots in the rankings even though he ran a pretty good race.

He really only falls because a few drivers behind him had stellar races that can’t go unnoticed. He wasn’t ever a factor for the win, and he didn’t lead any laps, but he gained eight stage points and finished ninth.

Larson had a runner-up finish last year at Las Vegas, so look for him to be much more of a threat to win this weekend.

8. Ryan Blaney

Change: ↓7

Following a dominating Daytona 500 where he finished seventh, Blaney ran most of the Atlanta race around the 15th position. His car got a little stronger late in the final stage, and he was able to work his way up to a respectable 12th finishing position. He was never much of a contender, especially because of how strong Harvick’s car was.

Look for the third-year driver to continue to flourish with his new team, Penske Racing. He finished seventh and sixth in his last two Vegas races.

9. Kurt Busch

Change: 5

Kurt Busch was one of the three strongest cars throughout the day at Atlanta. He led the second most laps (52), and amassed 12 stage points. Although he battled for the lead with Harvick and Keselowski throughout the race, he faded late and finished in the eighth position.

He was very strong at Daytona last week before getting caught up in a late wreck, and he again looked strong at Atlanta. Busch is starting the season off hot and he’ll look to build off that as he rolls into his home track at Las Vegas.

10. Clint Bowyer

Change: 9

NASCAR power rankings
Photo from Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Bowyer takes home the honor of the biggest mover in this week’s power rankings. He jumped nine spots following his third place run at Atlanta.

Bowyer, in his second season with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is looking rejuvenated and looks to be benefiting from the success of teammate Kevin Harvick. SHR is looking fantastic as a whole so far this season, and Bowyer will look to be the second member of the team to reach victory lane when they travel to Las Vegas this week. He finished 10th there last season.

11. Chase Elliott

Change: ↓2

The third-year Hendrick driver was the best finisher on his team Sunday at Atlanta. He didn’t really run in the top 10 until the final restart where he moved up as high as fifth, but faded back to 10th for the finish. He salvaged a top-10 from the race even though he didn’t run better than 14th for most of the afternoon.

Hendrick Motorsports has been slow out of the gate with the new ZL1 and will look to right the ship this weekend at Las Vegas. Elliott finished third in this race a year ago.

12. Austin Dillon

Change: ↓3

Last week’s winner experienced a minimal slide in the rankings this week. He finished 14th one lap down and is surely looking forward to Las Vegas this week.

Dillon is already locked into the playoffs from his huge Daytona win and he’ll look to accumulate more playoff points moving forward to better his playoff seeding. Last year he started and finished fifth at Vegas and would love to replicate that this weekend.

13. Aric Almirola

Change: 

One week after experiencing heartbreak on the final lap of the Daytona 500, Almirola finished 13th at Atlanta. He ran around 13th for most of the afternoon, so the finishing spot really sums up his day.

He’s looked much stronger this season with SHR than he did in his last few years with Richard Petty Racing (RCR). One explanation for that could be that he now has three experienced teammates at SHR, as opposed to having zero teammates with RCR.

He’s never had a top-10 finish at Las Vegas. If he can get one this week, it would really show that the strong start he’s experienced thus far isn’t just a fluke.

14. Erik Jones

Change: 2

NASCAR power rankings
Photo from John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Jones ran a clean race at Atlanta and finished his 20 car in the 11th position. It was a much better result than he experienced at Daytona, where he was wrecked out of the race early.

Jones is expected to take another big step forward in his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing. He can do that by improving on his 15th place finish that he earned at Las Vegas last season.

15. Paul Menard

Change: ↓4

Menard experienced a little slide this week in the rankings after his unimpressive 17th place finish at Atlanta. He ended the race one lap down and looked much less competitive than he did at Daytona.

In his first season with Wood Brothers Racing, he’s trying to show that he can run with the big guns and make the postseason. He has an average finish of 11th over his last six races at Las Vegas and will try to improve on that stat this weekend.

16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Change: 1

Stenhouse Jr. salvaged a 16th place finish at Atlanta after experiencing some damage during a caution late in the race. When Trevor Bayne’s engine blew, the entire track was covered with white smoke, and the drivers were essentially blinded.

Darrell Wallace Jr. was unable to see and rear-ended Stenhouse Jr. His crew did some quick work on the car and got him back out there and enabled him to gain a decent finish.

Stenhouse Jr. has never finished in the top 10 at Las Vegas, so he’ll be looking to break that trend this weekend.

17. Jamie McMurray

Change: 3

NASCAR power rankings
Photo from motorsport.com

Jamie “Mac” moved up a few spots because of the misfortunes of a few drivers ahead of him. He finished a paltry 19th at Atlanta, two laps down. He’ll need to step up his speed and be much more competitive moving forward if he wants to reach the playoffs again.

He’s unlikely to break his winless streak this week that dates back to 2013, as he has never won in his 15 starts at Las Vegas. He has four top-10 finishes, his last coming last season when he finished eighth.

18. Alex Bowman

Change: ↓6

Bowman rounded out the top 20 as he finished 20th at Atlanta. He got off to a quick start during the race, driving from his 18th starting position all the way up to eighth fairly quickly. But for the rest of the day he ran between 18th and 24th and finished the day three laps down.

Bowman has finishes of 43rd an 37th in his only two Las Vegas starts, good for an average of 40th. He literally has nowhere to go but up this weekend.

19. Darrell Wallace Jr.

Change: ↓4

“Bubba” Wallace Jr. had a decent run going for almost the entire race. He had run just inside the top 20 for most of the day and was looking to finish there until Trevor Bayne’s engine let go. He was blinded by the smoke from Bayne’s car and accidentally rear-ended Stenhouse Jr. while he was blinded.

His crew was able to patch up his car and get him back on the track, but the damage took it’s toll as he finished 32nd, six laps down.

He’ll look to bounce back this week at Las Vegas in his first ever MENCS start there.

20. Daniel Suarez

Change: ↑NPR

NASCAR power rankings
Photo by LAT Photographic

Suarez is new to the standings this week, sliding into the top 20 in place of Jimmie Johnson. He had a great run going at Daytona until he was involved in one of the big ones. Suarez started fourth at Atlanta and gained one stage point from his 10th place finish in the second stage. He finished the race in the 15th position, one lap down.

Last season he finished 20th at Las Vegas in his first MENCS start at the track. He’s much more experienced now and we should expect a better finish than 20th this weekend.

 

Falling out of the rankings: Jimmie Johnson (previously 18th)

 

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