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In what may be the messiest race we've seen to this point in the season, Tyler Reddick outdueled the field to stake his claim as the best current road racer in the field. A late-race battle between him and Chase Elliott was denied when the No. 9 was spun by his friend Ryan Blaney, who in turn was spun by Daniel Suarez one restart later. It would take too long to describe all the mayhem.
On the last lap, Reddick was challenged by Ross Chastain, who was in position to race him because of one of the gutsiest moves of 2022. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course has a run-off area so drivers can avoid the carnage of Turn 1, but they are supposed to slow down while going through that portion of the course and cannot advance their position.
Rally racing uses something they call a Joker Lane. It is a longer section of the track that all drivers are required to navigate once during a race. Chastain treated the runoff area like the Joker Lane and as a result was penalized 30 seconds by official at the end of the race. For the second straight week, one of the top two finishers incurred the wrath of NASCAR. Here's hoping this does not develop into a trend.
1. Chase Elliott (Last week: 1)
Weeks in the top 10: 22
Weeks as #1: 10
Wins: 4 (Dover, Nashville, Atlanta 2, Pocono)
Power Average: 4.10
Elliott was one restart away from scoring his sixth consecutive result of first or second. In the closing laps of a NASCAR race, there is no give – only take – and Elliott was spun out by his best friend in the field. Momentum has been stalled by less, so this week's Michigan International Speedway race is going to be incredibly important to make certain the No. 9 doesn't spiral downward.
2. Christopher Bell (Last week: 8) +6
Weeks in the top 10: 14
Wins: 1 (New Hampshire)
Power Average: 8.11
Bell ran much better than he finished at Indy, but a big part of the reason for his rapid rise is because a 27th-place result from Sonoma Raceway aged out of the 45-day formula. That poor performance snapped a five-race, top-10 streak and he hasn't been able to reclaim his momentum. Something more important happened in the past 45 days, however, because he won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to claim a spot in the playoffs.
3. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week: 7) +4
Weeks in the top 10: 22
Power Average: 8.46
Still winless in 2022, Truex got a momentary reprieve since there was a repeat winner at Indy. He dodged one wild card, but there are still two Jokers in the deck and Truex is not running consistently strong enough to find Victory Lane unless the pulls out a magical setup like he had in New Hampshire and his team stops making mistakes on pit road and on the pit box.
4. Ross Chastain (Last week: 2) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 18
Weeks as #1: 4
Wins: 2 (Talladega 2; COTA)
Power Average: 9.21
Better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Chastain must have known he would be penalized for taking the Joker Lane, but since he has a pair of wins and regular season points are not important, he figured ‘what the heck.' If nothing else, it proves to just what lengths he will go to get another win and the five playoff bonus points that go along with that. Currently, he would be seeded second to Elliott with 11 fewer bonus points.
5. Denny Hamlin (Last week: 9) +4
Weeks in the top 10: 6
Wins: 2 (Richmond 1, Charlotte oval)
Power Average: 9.92
In the past two weeks, a 34th at World Wide Technology Raceway and 31st at Sonoma aged out of the Power Rankings formula and helped propel Hamlin up the chart. One of the important questions asked after many races is whether on track performance has an impact above and beyond simple results. For Hamlin, at this stage of the season, the answer seems to be a resounding yes. He doesn't have any top-five finishes in the last month and a half, but his Pocono Raceway performance was dominant before NASCAR stripped him of the win.
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6. Daniel Suarez (Last week: 3) -3
Weeks in the top 10: 5
Wins: 1 (Sonoma)
Power Average: 10.29
Suarez's four-race top-10 streak ended in the tumultuous final few laps at Indy. He spun Blaney out of a top five position, but didn't get away scot-free and tumbled to 28th. The shuffling of the deck was so intense in the Verizon 200 that literally the only position with any weight to it was the win by Reddick. It's time to put the speedway package in play and see how much ground Trackhouse Racing has gained on unrestricted, intermediate speedways.
7. Ryan Blaney (Last week: 6) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 22
Weeks as #1: 1
Wins: 1 (All-Star)
Power Average: 10.49
Blaney used his car as a battering ram after the race to express displeasure with getting spun by Suarez. He seemed to have overlooked the fact that only one restart earlier, he had wrecked Elliott. It's demoralizing to lose opportunities and with the gloves off in the closing laps of a road course race, Blaney might have won if fate was more favorable. There are now four races remaining until the playoffs and he will almost certainly make it unless there are two new winners before Darlington Raceway rolls around.
8. Kyle Larson (Last week: 4) -4
Weeks in the top 10: 22
Weeks as #1: 1
Wins: 1 (Auto Club)
Power Average: 10.51
Auto Club Speedway must seem like a long time ago to Larson. Entering Indy, Larson had a nine-race streak of top-15s. In the past 45 days, three of these were top-fives and that has sustained him in the rankings, but with one of the worst Average Running Positions in the field and a poor Driver Rating at Indy, this is going to affect him for a while. He certainly doesn't know or care about our formula, but he desperately needs momentum with the playoffs looming.
9. Tyler Reddick (Last week: 12) +3
Weeks in the top 10: 8
Wins: 2 (Road America, Indy road)
Power Average: 10.55
Is Reddick the new king of the road? We'll find out at Watkins Glen International in a few weeks, but he now has two wins and four top-fives in his last five attempts on this track type. Most importantly, he has nothing to worry about even if there happen to be 17 winners during the regular season. He can breathe easy until Darlington and use the next four weeks to work on the playoff package.
10. Kevin Harvick (Last week: 5) -5
Weeks in the top 10: 11
Power Average: 12.03
One more bad finish will drop Harvick from the Power Rankings top 10. His last two efforts fell outside the top 25 and the elusive victory needed to snap his now 65-race winless streak seems more distant than ever. The NextGen car seems to reset the stats each week, however, and there are four distinctly different tracks coming up in the next four weeks. Harvick's best opportunity to win, will probably come at Richmond Raceway.
Drivers outside the top 10 with wins: William Byron  (Atlanta 1, Martinsville 1), Joey Logano  (Darlington 1, Gateway), Austin Cindric (Daytona 1), Alex Bowman (Las Vegas), Chase Briscoe (Phoenix 1), Kyle Busch (Bristol dirt), and Kurt Busch (Kansas 1).
Dropped from the Top 10
11. Kurt Busch (Last week: 10) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 3
Wins: 1 (Kansas 1)
Power Average: 13.34
Busch missed the last two races as he goes through concussion protocol. With an exemption from NASCAR, he should not be in jeopardy of missing the playoffs unless there is a 17th winner, and if that happens, he is the low hanging fruit in the points standings among drivers with one win. Since winning at Kansas Speedway, he's earned two more top-three finishes while landing outside the top 20 three times. He needs to find consistency to make it through the first round of the playoffs.
Winners, Last 45 Days (Outright Odds to win)
Verizon 200, Tyler Reddick (+650)
M&Ms 400, Chase Elliott (+650)
Ambetter 301, Christopher Bell (+1300)
Quaker State 400, Chase Elliott (+1000)
Kwik Trip 250, Tyler Reddick (+2500)
Ally 400, Chase Elliott (+900)
Power Average, Last 45 Days
Martin Truex, Jr.
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