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Power Rankings

Power Ranking After New Hampshire: Truex replaces William Byron

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: July 19, 2021, 7:53 pm ET

As NASCAR pauses so that America can watch the Olympics, the drivers have a great opportunity to catch their collective breath and prepare for the last four races of the regular season.

Last week’s win by the longshot Aric Almirola keeps the field in a state where more than 16 winners might occur in the regular season. At this moment there are three slots remaining to be filled and four races to be run on the road courses of Watkins Glen International and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, plus Michigan International Speedway and the ultimate wild card, aero-restricted superspeedway of Daytona International Speedway. 

Chase Elliott has dominated the road courses, but there is always the potential that someone can break into Victory Lane with strategy. If that driver comes from below the cutline that currently sits at 12th – like Almirola did last week – the picture gets progressively cloudier. Denny Hamlin will take one of the positions if he remains the points’ leader, so even with 16 unique winners the tiebreaker could come into effect.

In any event, the parity among winners this year has kept this storyline active and it won’t cease to be as topic of conversation – and a big factor in the drivers’ minds – for at least another couple of weeks.

Top 10

1. Kyle Larson (last week: 2) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 19
Weeks as #1: 6
Cup wins: 4 (Las Vegas 1, Charlotte, Sonoma, Nashville)
Power Average: 6.00
Momentum is such a tricky thing. When a driver has it, nothing seemingly can go wrong. And as quickly as it appears, it can disappear. Larson was an innocent bystander at Road America when his teammate Alex Bowman lost his brakes and spun the No. 5. The next week his car looked numb at Atlanta Motor Speedway and last week he was outside the top five for a third consecutive race. Wins at Sonoma Raceway and Nashville Superspeedway are still part of the 45-day formula, however, and Larson remains the hottest driver on average.

2. Kyle Busch (last week: 1) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 22
Weeks as #1: 1
Cup wins: 2 (Kansas 1, Pocono 2)
Power Average: 6.87
Busch hopes that his early departure from the Foxwood Resort Casino 301 doesn’t affect his momentum. He was leading the race when Turn 1 got soaked and as the first one through the rain squall, he hit the wall hard enough to make him the first driver out. That is only the second time since his Kansas Speedway win that he’s finished worse than 11th, however, so you should expect him to bounce back quickly.

3. Kurt Busch (last week: 8) +5
Weeks in the top 10: 5
Cup wins: 1 (Atlanta 2)
Power Average: 7.35
Busch finished only 16th last week at New Hampshire, but he ran with the leaders for a while and momentarily seemed to carry his Atlanta momentum forward. The biggest reason for his rise up the chart, however, is that a 38th-place finish from the Coke 600 aged out of the formula leaving him with five top-10s in seven races during the past 45 days.

4. Denny Hamlin (last week: 4)
Weeks in the top 10: 23
Weeks as #1: 8
Cup wins: 0 (Points leader by +13)
Power Average: 8.63
So long as there are not 17 winners – meaning there would need to be a new victor in each of the last four races – Hamlin is relatively safe. If he keeps the points’ lead. A 13-point margin is not much, but with Larson’s drive currently stalled and solid runs by Hamlin should keep him in contention. If he needs to make the playoffs on points, he has enough of a cushion to cover the field. A single bobble combined with three more winners could still be his undoing. That has to weigh heavily on Hamlin’s mind.

5. Alex Bowman (last week: 5)
Weeks in the top 10: 10
Cup wins: 3 (Richmond 1, Dover 1, Pocono 1)
Power Average: 9.125
Bowman has been consistent enough over the past 45 days to make a big difference in his ranking. In the past seven races he has finished worse than 14th one time and outside the top 10 twice. His single poor finish of 22nd at Road America came after he raced with the leaders for most of the afternoon and it’s offset by his Pocono 1 victory. The trouble is he has not been dominant enough to warrant a weekly outright win bet while his odds makes him a bad bet for anything other than a first-place finish.

6. Chase Elliott (last week: 3) -3
Weeks in the top 10: 23
Weeks as #1: 4
Cup wins: 2 (COTA, Road America)
Power Average: 9.133
Elliott really needs to win on an oval to establish himself as a favorite for the championship. New Hampshire was pivotal because it behaves a bit like Phoenix Raceway, where the finale will be held. Elliott did not improve his odds with a disappointing run that was further hampered by a mistake in the pits. For the moment, he needs to concentrate on winning the next two road course races. He’s going to desperately need the bonus points when the playoffs begin.

7. Joey Logano (last week: 7)
Weeks in the top 10: 23
Weeks as #1: 1
Cup wins: 1 (Bristol dirt)
Power Average: 9.61
Last week’s fourth-place finish for Logano was a step in the right direction, but he needs to make more of those. The good news for Team Penske is that all three of their drivers had strong runs last week with top-five finishes for each. Logano earned a hard-fought fourth after getting penalized two laps early when a crewmember worked on his car under red flag conditions. He has another opportunity to continue in the right direction after the Olympic break because he has four top-five finishes in his last five road course races.

8. Brad Keselowski (last week: 10) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 15
Cup wins: 1 (Talladega 1)
Power Average: 9.71
After last week’s announcement that Keselowski will be leaving Team Penske, we suspected their drivers would have above average performances. We weren’t quite prepared for Kez to challenge for the win, however, and that has some ripple effects in our predictions. Keselowski has only seven playoff points; there are nine drivers with more. But if he can make his way into the finale, this run gives Keselowski a strong shot at the Cup.

9. Tyler Reddick (last week: 9)
Weeks in the top 10: 11
Cup wins: 0
Power Average: 10.50
Reddick remains in the top 10 for another week with a solid top-15 finish on the heels of three top-10s and an 11th. He contended for a single digit result last week for most of the race and managed to earn points in all three segments of the Foxwood Resort Casino 301. That might not matter if Reddick does not win one of the next four races. He is on the cusp of being eliminated as four drivers (Ku. Busch, Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell, and Aric Almirola) are below him with victories to their credit and only three seats currently available to the highest points’ finishers.

10. Martin Truex, Jr. (last week: 11) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 15
Weeks as #1: 2
Cup wins: 3 (Phoenix 1, Martinsville 1, Darlington 1)
Power Average: 10.63
Truex may have had a great opportunity to win last week if not for the damage he sustained when he crashed in the early-race downpour. The fact that he was able to finish within sight of the top-10 and never lose a lap with his damaged car was impressive, however. After some pretty disappointing weeks, he is heading in the right direction with four consecutive top-12 finishes and a pair of road course races on the horizon.

Other drivers with wins, not among the top 10: William Byron (Homestead), Michael McDowell (Daytona 1), Christopher Bell (Daytona road), Ryan Blaney (Atlanta 1), and Aric Almirola (New Hampshire).

Dropped from the Top 10

11. William Byron (last week: 6) -5
Weeks in the top 10: 16
Weeks as #1: 1
Cup wins: 1 (Homestead)
Power Average: 11.13
That Byron did not fall out of the top 10 until now is a testament to the late spring/early summer that HMS had. Byron has been struggling for a while, however, with three results of 20th or worse in his last three attempts. What kept him from falling even further were a pair of third-place finishes at Nashville and Pocono in June.

Winners, Last 45 Days (Opening Outright Odds to win)
New Hampshire, Aric Almirola (-9000)
Atlanta, Kurt Busch (+3300)
Road America, Chase Elliott (+300)
Pocono 2, Kyle Busch (+700)
Pocono 1, Alex Bowman (+2200)
Nashville, Kyle Larson (+300)
Save Mart 350k, Kyle Larson (+850)

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Power Average, Last 45 Days

This
Week

Driver

Power
Avg.

Last
Week

Difference

1.

Kyle Larson

6.00

2

1

2.

Kyle Busch

6.87

1

-1

3.

Kurt Busch

7.35

8

5

4.

Denny Hamlin

8.63

4

0

5.

Alex Bowman

9.125

5

0

6.

Chase Elliott

9.133

3

-3

7.

Joey Logano

9.61

7

0

8.

Brad Keselowski

9.71

10

2

9.

Tyler Reddick

10.50

9

0

10.

Martin Truex, Jr.

10.63

11

1

 

11.

William Byron

11.13

6

-5

12.

Kevin Harvick

11.67

12

0

13.

Ryan Blaney

12.05

14

1

14.

Christopher Bell

13.02

17

3

15.

Ross Chastain

13.48

18

3

16.

Aric Almirola

13.55

16

0

17.

Austin Dillon

15.57

13

-4

18.

Matt DiBenedetto

16.17

20

2

19.

Bubba Wallace

16.76

15

-4

20.

Chase Briscoe

18.67

22

2

21.

AJ Allmendinger

19.67

24

3

22.

Daniel Suarez

19.74

19

-3

23.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

20.47

21

-2

24.

Chris Buescher

20.94

23

-1

25.

Michael McDowell

21.13

25

0

26.

Erik Jones

21.72

26

0

27.

Cole Custer

22.35

28

1

28.

Austin Cindric

23.83

27

-1

29.

Corey LaJoie

24.43

29

0

30.

Ryan Newman

25.70

30

0

31.

Ryan Preece

25.76

31

0

32.

Ty Dillon

27.00

32

0

33.

Justin Haley

27.77

33

0

34.

JJ Yeley

27.80

34

0

35.

Scott Heckert

28.40

36

1

36.

Anthony Alfredo

29.29

35

-1

37.

Ben Rhodes

30.00

39

2

38.

Justin Allgaier

30.25

40

2

39.

BJ McLeod

30.28

41

2

40.

James Davison

30.41

38

-2

41.

Cody Ware

30.87

37

-4

42.

Garrett Smithley

31.87

42

0

43.

Josh Bilicki

32.37

43

0

44.

Joey Gase

32.40

44

0

45.

David Starr

32.50

47

2

46.

Timmy Hill

34.45

46

0

47.

Quin Houff

34.66

45

-2

48.

Chad Finchum

35.40

48

0

49.

Kyle Tilley

36.80

49

0

50.

Ryan Eversley

37.60

50

0

 

Power Rankings after Atlanta 2
Road America
Pocono

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.