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Power Rankings

Power Ranking After Charlotte Roval: Austin Dillon; Kyle Busch out

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 11, 2021, 6:17 pm ET

Placing the Bank of America Roval 400k at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the heels of the Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway was clever. Given the chaos that erupted on the Roval – and the disorder that has ensued in previous seasons – suddenly Talladega looks less like a lottery.

The randomness of the ‘Dega finish tightened the points to a degree that last Sunday’s cutline storylines were reminiscent of a telenovela with improbable plot twists, violence, and intrigue. Barring a win by Alex Bowman, William Byron, or Christopher Bell, the battle was going to come down to nine drivers for eight spots. But with Byron leading at significant moments in the race, the cutline was a busy place.

Last week all 10 drivers at the top of the Power Rankings were members of the Round of 12. This week, two drivers who were not on that list were elevated to top of the order while another strong driver was eliminated from playoff contention largely because of a lack of playoff bonus points. The race for supremacy will remain tight for another month.

The 45-day period that makes up the Power Ranking formula this week runs from Daytona International Speedway through the Roval.

Top 10

1. Denny Hamlin (last week: 1)
Weeks in the top 10: 33
Weeks as #1: 12
Cup wins: 2 (Darlington 2; Las Vegas 2)
Power Average: 4.32
Hamlin must have been pleased for most of the Roval 400k. He watched as his principal rivals were embroiled in controversy that has the potential to distract them when the Round of 8 gets underway with back-to-back, similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track events. Hamlin has won the opening race of the first two rounds and is the only driver in the field with a perfect record of top-10s since the playoffs began.  

2. Ryan Blaney (last week: 2)
Weeks in the top 10: 20
Cup wins: 3 (Atlanta 1, Michigan, Daytona 2)
Power Average: 7.32
For the most part, Blaney stayed out of last week’s drama. He was involved in a couple of close calls and would almost certainly have preferred to finish better than ninth on a track that counts as one of his best in terms of average finishes. The most important thing is that he advanced in the playoffs, however, along with his Team Penske mates. That organization has been strong on 1.5-mile tracks this year, so the momentum should continue.

3. Kevin Harvick (last week: 5) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 25
Cup wins: 0
Power Average: 8.24
When Harvick saw Elliott looming in his rearview mirror after earlier contact between the two sent the No. 9 into the wall, he drove too hard into the corner and wheel hopped his way into the SAFER barrier. And out of the playoffs. Harvick has been one of the strongest competitors during the playoffs, but without any playoff points to speak of, he practically needed to win in order to advance out of the Round of 12. Harvick’s accident came late enough in the race, however, to give him a solid Average Running Position and Driver Rating to allow him to move up this grid.

4. Joey Logano (last week: 8) +4
Weeks in the top 10: 28
Weeks as #1: 1
Cup wins: 1 (Bristol Dirt)
Power Average: 8.40
Consistency has played a critical role in getting Logano and the remainder of the Team Penske organization this far through the playoffs. In six races, Logano has finished 11th or better each week, but he has only two top-fives and one of those came in the Talladega lottery. Last week’s seventh at the Roval keeps his hopes alive and as long as Hamlin and Larson continue to dominate Victory Lane, it may (just may) keep him relevant for the next few races.

5. Chase Elliott (last week: 3) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 33
Weeks as #1: 5
Cup wins: 2 (COTA, Road America)
Power Average: 8.93
Even with a car that looked like it should belong at Martinsville Speedway at the end of a local late model show, Elliott had enough road racing skill to almost crack the top 10. He is going to have to worry over the next four weeks about whether his feud with Harvick ended when that driver booted him into the wall midway through Charlotte. In order to advance to the Championship 4, Elliott really needs to win one of the next two races at Texas Motor Speedway or Kansas Speedway when it is less likely that Harvick will make another attempt at retaliation. The gloves will come off again at Martinsville Speedway.

6. Kyle Larson (last week: 4) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 29
Weeks as #1: 11
Cup wins: 7 (Las Vegas 1, Charlotte, Sonoma, Nashville, Watkins Glen, Bristol paved, Charlotte Roval)
Power Average: 9.28
Larson’s massive number of playoff bonus points came into play as soon as the No. 5 was collected by another car early at Talladega. In fact, they were not going to be enough when an alternator belt came off his engine at the Roval. Larson was actually below the cutline for quite a few laps as teammate William Byron led the field. Now Larson has a 65-point advantage over the field as the standings reset for the Round of 8 and there are far fewer variables in play in the next three weeks. Anything can happen at NASCAR’s top level, however, and everyone’s eyes were opened over the past two weeks.

7. Martin Truex, Jr. (last week: 6) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 25
Weeks as #1: 2
Cup wins: 4 (Phoenix 1, Martinsville 1, Darlington 1, Richmond 2)
Power Average: 10.21
Truex dodged a couple of bullets over the past couple of weeks. He sustained damage at both the Roval and Talladega, but there was enough hardship for four other drivers that he survived into the Round of 8. Over the past five seasons, Truex has the most 1.5-mile wins with 10 and he’s been inside the top 10 in 45 of 51 races. In all likelihood three of the Championship 4 will get there with victories – and the real question is whether Truex will be one of them. Of his four wins this season, the "cookie-cutters" have not been included.

8. Brad Keselowski (last week: 7) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 19
Cup wins: 1 (Talladega 1)
Power Average: 10.88
It wasn’t pretty, but Keselowski rightfully thanked his crew chief for helping him keep a level head and get far enough into the race to ensure he could advance. After all, his head was spinning from multiple on-track incidents. Finishing 20th on the Roval was only the second time during the playoffs that he was worse than 10th and his previous low was a 13th. Consistency is important for fantasy players, but he’s going to need more raw strength to be part of the conversation for the outright win or advancement to the Championship 4.

9. Austin Dillon (last week: 12) +3
Weeks in the top 10: 7
Cup wins: 0
Power Average: 11.68
Dillon did not get the result he earned last week, but that will happen as a multitude of strategies play out. That fact is one of the major reasons we track Average Running Position, Driver Rating, and other strength-base stats each week. Dillon has finished in a narrow band of 10th through 17th in the last 45 days to accrue an average finish of 13.1. Given the inconsistencies of the drivers around him, that has been enough to climb back inside the Power Rankings top-10.

10. Tyler Reddick (last week: 11) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 19
Cup wins: 0
Power Average: 12.17
The last two road course races have almost featured first time winners. Chase Briscoe was running up front at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before a black flag sidelined him. Reddick did not quite have enough skill or speed to dethrone this year’s winningest road course racer. Given his relative inexperience, however, his position among the top 10 in 19 of 32 race weeks is nothing short of remarkable.  

Other drivers with wins, not among the top 10: Alex Bowman ([3] Richmond 1, Dover 1, and Pocono 1), Kyle Busch (Kansas 1, Pocono), William Byron (Homestead), Michael McDowell (Daytona 1), Christopher Bell (Daytona road), Kurt Busch (Atlanta 2), Aric Almirola (New Hampshire), AJ Allmendinger (Indy Road), and Bubba Wallace (Talladega 2).

Dropped from the Top 10

11. Kyle Busch (last week: 9) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 30
Weeks as #1: 1
Cup wins: 2 (Kansas 1, Pocono 2)
Power Average: 12.28
We’ve been saying for weeks that Busch looked numb and he finally he fell out of the Power Rankings top 10. Again. He earned a top-five finish, but did not run with the leaders long enough at the Roval to keep from being overtaken by the Richard Childress Racing drivers. In the past 45 days, Busch has been unable to back up one strong run with another and that makes him a big unknown entering Texas.

12. Christopher Bell (last week: 10) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 12
Cup wins: 1 (Daytona Road)
Power Average: 12.28
Bell fell from the top 10 this week because the Power Points have been just as tight around the cutline as they have been for playoff advancement. It is not that Bell has run badly, but finally posting back-to-back, top-10s in the final two races of the Round of 12 was too little, too late. Now that the playoff stress is off his shoulders, he could settle into a much faster rhythm.

Winners, Last 45 Days (Opening Outright Odds to win)
Charlotte Roval, Kyle Larson (+400)
Talladega 2, Bubba Wallace (+3300)
Las Vegas 2, Denny Hamlin (+750)
Bristol, Kyle Larson (+460)
Richmond 2, Martin Truex, Jr. (+480)
Darlington 2, Denny Hamlin (+625)
Daytona 2, Ryan Blaney (+1400)

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Power Average, Last 45 Days

This
Week

Driver

Power
Avg.

Last
Week

Difference

1.

Denny Hamlin

4.32

1

0

2.

Ryan Blaney

7.32

2

0

3.

Kevin Harvick

8.24

5

2

4.

Joey Logano

8.40

8

4

5.

Chase Elliott

8.93

3

-2

6.

Kyle Larson

9.28

4

-2

7.

Martin Truex, Jr.

10.21

6

-1

8.

Brad Keselowski

10.88

7

-1

9.

Austin Dillon

11.68

12

3

10.

Tyler Reddick

12.17

11

1

 

11.

Kyle Busch

12.28

9

-2

12.

Christopher Bell

13.24

10

-2

13.

Ross Chastain

14.25

15

2

14.

Kurt Busch

14.46

13

-1

15.

William Byron

15.00

14

-1

16.

Chris Buescher

15.83

20

4

17.

Alex Bowman

16.49

16

-1

18.

Bubba Wallace

16.62

17

-1

19.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

18.40

19

0

20.

Erik Jones

18.80

23

3

21.

Aric Almirola

18.92

21

0

22.

Matt DiBenedetto

19.31

18

-4

23.

Chase Briscoe

19.62

22

-1

24.

Daniel Suarez

21.03

26

2

25.

Cole Custer

22.06

27

2

26.

Ryan Preece

22.11

24

-2

27.

Corey LaJoie

22.43

25

-2

28.

Ryan Newman

25.12

28

0

29.

Michael McDowell

26.86

29

0

30.

Anthony Alfredo

27.14

31

1

31.

Justin Haley

27.41

30

-1

32.

Landon Cassill

28.40

32

0

33.

BJ McLeod

30.40

33

0

34.

JJ Yeley

31.36

35

1

35.

Cody Ware

31.63

34

-1

36.

Josh Bilicki

32.03

36

0

37.

Quin Houff

32.76

37

0

38.

Joey Gase

32.79

40

2

39.

David Starr

33.30

38

-1

40.

Garrett Smithley

33.47

39

-1

41.

James Davison

35.81

41

0

 

Power Rankings after Indy Road
Watkins Glen
Road America

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.