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
Second, second, third, and second. Those are Busch’s last four finishes. He led 24 laps at Martinsville but ran second most of the afternoon behind either Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney or Clint Bowyer. With his runner-up finish, he takes over the top spot in the points and the power rankings. He’s been so close to winning and he’s bound to reach victory lane very soon. Following the Easter bye week, NASCAR travels to Texas Motor Speedway. Busch has two career wins at Texas, with the most recent coming back in 2016.
2. Martin Truex Jr.
Truex Jr. started on the pole but didn’t last out front very long. He led the first four laps but that would be it on the day. He finished fourth but didn’t place in the top-10 during the first two stages, resulting in a mediocre points day. Truex has six straight top-10s at Texas and has led 363 laps over the last four races on the mile and a half circuit.
3. Ryan Blaney
Blaney had a spectacular race on Monday, leading 145 laps en route to winning the second stage and grabbing another playoff point. He dominated stage two but faded early in the final stage until he battled back for a third-place finish. The youngster is on the rise headed into the bye week. He snagged a sixth-place finish during his last trip to Texas Motor Speedway, his best finish at the track in his short career.
4. Kevin Harvick
Harvick finished fifth at Martinsville and ran in that position for the majority of the afternoon. He got into a little bit of trouble on pit road early in the race when he collided with his teammate, Aric Almirola. Fortunately for him, the damage wasn’t bad enough to slow his car so he was able to continue on for a solid race and top-5 finish. Harvick has one win at Texas, coming in back in the fall of 2017. He also has eight top-10s over his last nine races at the track.
5. Joey Logano
Logano nabbed another top-10 with his sixth-place finish at Martinsville. He never had the speed to compete for the win, but he remained inside the top-10 all afternoon. Logano is running consistency in the top-10 each week, it’s safe to say the Logano of old has returned and his ready to compete for a championship once again. It’s only a matter of time before he gets back to victory lane. Logano has one win at Texas that came back in the spring of 2014, and his average finish over the last four Texas races sits at an incredible 3.75.
6. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer had a stellar race on Monday and was able to secure his first win since 2012. He led a race-high 215 laps, which is more than he had led in his previous 159 races. With the victory at the Paperclip, he snapped a 190 race winless streak and secured his spot in the postseason. Bowyer is experiencing the hottest start of his career and he finds himself eighth in the point standings because of it. He’ll need to use the bye week to brush up on his Texas skills, as he hasn’t had a top-10 at the track since 2014 when he finished eighth. In his last seven Texas races, he has a best finish of 11th and an average finish of 25.00.
7. Denny Hamlin
Hamlin won the first stage on Monday, earning his first playoff point of the season. He ran solidly in the top-10 all day until Kevin Harvick brake-checked him late and damage the nose of his car. Hamlin was forced to re-pit to fix the damage and fell back in the pack. He was able to work his way back up to the 12th position by the end of the race, but his finish wasn’t very indicative of how good his car was all day. Hamlin sits sixth in the standings heading into the bye week. He has two previous wins at Texas, but both back in 2010. He finished third in the 2017 fall playoff race at the track.
8. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski was the lowest finishing Penske driver on Monday and is also the lowest Penske driver in the point standings. But, it’s tough to say that’s bad because he finished 10th at the Paperclip and is fifth in the standings. He’s running very well, but his teammates are just running a tad better. His first-year teammate, Ryan Blaney, sits third in the standings while Logano sits fourth. There’s only a seven-point difference from Blaney to Keselowski so he can easily leapfrog both of them with a good run at Texas in two weeks. Keselowski has five top-6 finishes in his last seven Texas starts.
9. Kyle Larson
Larson is off to a slow start to the season, at least compared to his 2017 start. While he sits ninth in the standings, which is a very respectable position, he hasn’t looked very fast yet this season. He’s only led 54 laps over the first six races and has only finished on the lead-lap in three of the six races this season. Over his last six Texas races he has an average finish of 21.67, with one second place finish coming in the spring race in 2017. Outside the second place, he’s finished 14th, 15th, 25th, 37th, and 37th in the last six at Texas.
10. Aric Almirola
Almirola had an eventful day at Martinsville. He was running in the top-10 until he collided with teammate Kevin Harvick on pit road. He was forced to re-pit to repair some damage and fell to the back of the pack. Almirola had to drive back through the pack to get back towards the front and ultimately finished 14th. He’s having a stellar season thus far and finds himself 11th in the standings heading to the bye week. He only has one top-10 finish at Texas, seventh, back in 2013. He should contender for his second top-10 because he’s run well at every track in his new Stewart Haas ride.
11. Kurt Busch
Busch finished 11th at the Paperclip but earned points in both stages with his eighth and seventh place finishes in them. He’s 10th in the standings going into the bye week, 80 points behind his younger brother Kyle who owns the points lead. Kurt has one win at Texas, way back in 2009. He has an average finish of 11.00 over the last seven Texas races, slightly better than his 15.07 career average finish at the track.
12. Erik Jones
Jones never really had it at Martinsville, as he concluded the day in the 17th position three laps down. He’s still 12th in the season point standings, firmly in the playoff picture at this point. Jones earned his first top-10 at Texas in the fall of 2017 and should contend for another top-10 or even top-5 this time around. Jones is in the midst of a solid sophomore season and he’s only gaining steam as he gains more experience each week.
13. Alex Bowman
Bowman locked up his best finish of 2018 and first top-10 of the season with his seventh-place finish at the Paperclip. He ran in the mid-teens most of the day until his car came alive in the final stage. Bowman drove his way all the up to the seventh position by the end of the race. He was the best finishing Hendrick driver and is also the highest Hendrick driver in the point standings. Bowman finished 16th at Texas back in 2016 filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
14. Chase Elliott
Elliott was expected to compete for a win but barely squeezed a top-10 out of Martinsville. He ran around 15th all afternoon but found speed late to get into the top-10 for a ninth place finish. He’s started the season off slow, but two DNFs that weren’t his fault certainly don’t help. He’s slowly climbed up to 18th in the standings, 142 points behind the points leader. Elliott has been stellar at Texas in his career so far, earning four top-10s in all four of his starts with an average finish of 6.5. Watch for Elliott to get back on track at Texas, maybe even with his first career win.
15. Jimmie Johnson
Johnson battled to earn two stage points as he stole the 10th finishing position in both stages on the day. He faded in the final stage for a paltry 15th place finish. He hasn’t had the speed this season to run in the top-10 at any track yet, but he’s shown improvements over the last few races. He’s made his way up to 17th in the standings and should continue to improve heading to Texas. He has seven career wins at the track and spectacular average finish of 8.76.
16. Paul Menard
Menard finished 13th at the Paperclip and failed to secure any stage points as Johnson out-ran him in stage two for the 10th position. Albeit early in the season, he still finds himself in the playoff picture ahead of contenders such as Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Daniel Suarez and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He’ll need to continue to earn top-15 finishes to stay in the playoff hunt down the stretch.
17. Austin Dillon
Dillon had a miserable day at Martinsville from the start. He started the race 12th but quickly tanked after having to pit several times to fix a faulty radio. He ended up finishing the race 30th, seven laps down. He’ll look to bounce back after the bye week at Texas, but he has some work to do. At Texas he has an average finish of 23.00 and only has two top-15 finishes (11th and 13th) over his 10 starts at the track.
18. Ryan Newman
Newman is in the midst of a small slump. He’s finished 19th and 21st over the last two races and has looked relatively uncompetitive. He’ll need to find some speed over the bye week for the race at Texas. While he has one victory at the track, it happened all the way back in 2003, 15 years ago. He’s only earned three top-10s over the last 19 races at Texas, with an average finish of 16.10 over those races.
19. William Byron
The rookie ran around 20th all day at the Paperclip and thats where he finished. He’s still a young kid, only 20 years old, in his first full-time NASCAR Monster Energy Cup season. There’s going to be a learning curve and himself and his team are still working out the kinks. During the bye week he’ll begin to look forward to Texas, where he’s never ran in a cup car. In his two Xfinity starts at the track he had solid finishes of seventh and ninth and led a total of 34 laps. He’ll hope some of that Xfinity success will translate and he can earn his first career top-10.
20. AJ Allmendinger
Allmendinger cracks the power rankings for the first time this season with his great run at Martinsville. He finished eighth at the end of the race and placed seventh and eighth in the two stages of the races. He hadn’t earned stage points all season so the fact that he earned points in both stages was a major step for the team. His eighth place finish was his best of the season and his second top-10 since he earned one in the season-opening race at Daytona. He currently has an average finish of 20.00 this season. “Dinger” only has two top-10s in his career at Texas, back in 2009 and 2011. His average finish of 18.75 over the last four Texas races ranks 20th among active drivers.
Falling out of the rankings: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (previously 19th)
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